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Wimbledon finalist Genie Bouchard hits tennis comeback trail

Updated November 9, 2019 - 3:07 pm

Genie Bouchard was asked to be interviewed after she and partner Fanny Stollar of Hungary won their first-round doubles match at the Henderson Tennis Open at DragonRidge Country Club last week.

She seemed embarrassed by the attention.

Not that long ago she would have expected it.

It has been five years since she lost in the Wimbledon final — and in the Australian and French Open semifinals — and attained a world top-five ranking, the first Canadian to attain such a lofty status.

She was only 20 then.

Now she’s 25 and — as so often happens in tennis due to injuries and other circumstances — on the comeback trail.

“I haven’t played a match in a while, singles or doubles, so I just wanted to come out and get some match play,” said Bouchard, partly explaining her presence at a challenger event paying a modest $40,000 purse.

The other part: Las Vegas is home for her new trainer Gil Reyes, famous for once having worked with Andre Agassi.

“I love Las Vegas and want to call it my second home,” said Bouchard, who has been hitting at the Fertitta Tennis Complex on the UNLV campus. “Gil is one of the most amazing people I’ve ever met — words can’t describe how it is to train with him and (have him as) a mentor.”

During her injuries and inactivity, not all of which was tennis related — one of Bouchard’s biggest setbacks was suffering a concussion when she slipped in the locker room at the 2015 U.S. Open — she has tumbled to No. 224 in the computer rankings.

She has received more notice for her off-court activities, such as going on a date with a fan to honor a losing Super Bowl bet, than her tennis since her 2014 breakthrough in the majors.

“I’m so grateful to achieve whatever I have achieved in my career,” Bouchard said of her $6.3 million in career earnings, 1.7 million Twitter followers, Sports Illustrated swimsuit model gig and million-dollar endorsements. “It gives me confidence that I did it before, so I can do it again.”

She said she will play singles in Houston next week, and is in it for the long haul.

“It’s a long road. But I love tennis so much that it doesn’t matter if I’m at a challenger and on a court like this — which is beautiful — or at Wimbledon.”

Before the interview, a reporter asked if she could hold her own microphone, a request that seemed to surprise Genie Bouchard.

She wasn’t at Wimbledon anymore. But getting back there remains the goal.

Around the horn

— Near as I can tell the major shortcomings of Chris Shaw, fired this week as UNLV’s women’s soccer coach, were having one losing season after five consecutive winning ones and taking the Rebels to their first NCAA Tournament berth in 10 years. Shaw also won with local kids — 15 of the 28 players on this year’s roster were from Las Vegas and Henderson.

Apparently NCAA Tournament appearances and winning seasons are not the barometer by which UNLV’s Olympic sports are measured. Kathy Olivier, who on Saturday began her 12th season as Lady Rebels coach, has yet to take the team to the big dance and has had only four winning seasons in 11.

— UNLV athletic director Desiree Reed-Francois has taken to referring to herself as “Desiree” in promotional athletic department videos. One name only. Like Cher, Madonna, Bono and Redfoo.

— The teams have been set for Major League Weekend at Las Vegas Ballpark. Not Big League Weekend, but Major League (Rugby) Weekend. The New England Free Jacks will battle Rugby United New York on Feb. 9, followed by additional games between additional teams Feb. 15 and 16.

Aviators president Don Logan said the teams and dates for Big League (Baseball) Weekend still have not been determined, adding that negotiations with the Chicago Cubs and other teams are continuing.

— Former Las Vegas Thunder goalie and fan favorite Clint Malarchuk will be profiled in a special on sports and mental health called “Headstrong” airing on NBC Sports Network regional affiliates in November. “I’m a suicide survivor. I don’t want to go down that road again,” the Cowboy Goalie says in promotional materials.

0:01

Chad Knaus, NASCAR award-winning crew chief, on intervention during postrace altercations between stock car drivers:

“When somebody starts to bleed, then you break it up.”

Contact Ron Kantowski at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352. Follow @ronkantowski on Twitter.

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