When Genie Bouchard arrives in Melbourne in January for the 2016 Australian Open, it will be, at age 21, her eighth consecutive visit – four times in the juniors, and now four times in the pros without missing a year.
Still just 14, she made her junior Slam debut there in 2009, winning two matches in qualifying before losing to Ksenia Pervak in the secound round of the main draw.
In 2010, at 15, she faced Akiko Omae of Japan in the first round – and was defeated 7-6, 4-6, 6-3.
Here's some match video we recently rediscovered (back in our early video experimentation days, sadly only available in SD on the server where it was stored). Still fascinating to watch nearly six years later.
Bouchard teamed up with Luksika Kumkhum of Thailand in doubles (Bouchard called her by her last name, which was hilarious); they came in hot after winning the title at the main tuneup event in Traralgon the previous week.
After defeating Canadian compatriots Elisabeth Abanda (older sister of Françoise) and Eliane Douglas-Miron in the first round, they lost in the semis to Chantal Skamlova and Jana Cepelova of Slovakia, who won the title by defeating another Canadian, Gabriela Dabrowski, and Timea Babos of Hungary in the final.
Here are some Bouchard pics from that event.
Where is this cast of characters nearly six years later, you ask?
*Pervak, the winner in that 2009 match, just announced her retirement this week at age 24 after several injury-plagued years.
*Omae, who lost in the very next round, stopped playing juniors later that year (two years before Bouchard ended her junior career) and went out as a full-time professional. Currently ranked No. 385 in singles and No. 278 in doubles, she peaked at No. 222 in singles in 2012. She hasn't played outside Asia in a couple of years, and hasn't played at all since July.
*The winner of the 2010 Australian Open junior girls' title was No. 6 seed Karolina Pliskova, who defeated Bouchard's then-BFF Laura Robson (who was unseeded) in the girls' singles final. Robson had prevented an all-Pliskova final by defeated twin Kristyna, a qualifier, in the semi-finals. The last two years of Robson's career have been sabotaged by wrist surgery; Pliskova has been in the top 10 this year.
No. 2 seed Heather Watson of Great Britain and Ukraine's Elina Svitolina lost in the first round of that 2010 Oz Open junior tournament; American Madison Keys lost in the second round. They've done all right for themselves.
Canadians Douglas-Miron and Abanda, both early students in the National Tennis Centre program, went on (as most of them seem to) to play NCAA college tennis. Abanda is at Barry University in Miami, Division II; Douglas-Miron is at the University of Washington, where for several years she was coached by fellow Ontarian Jill Hetherington-Hultquist.
Bouchard, well, we know what she's been up to.