Doubles on the Rise

By Jane Voigt

August 3, 2013 (Washington D. C.) -- Martina Hingis may singlehandedly raise the game of doubles to new heights of viewership. It's a dream come true for doubles players around the world irked their game isn't televised more frequently.

Hingis returned to the WTA Tour this week in Carlsbad, California, after six years of retirement. She was paired in doubles alongside Daniel Hantuchova, a career Grand Slam Mixed Doubles champion. However, they were eliminated yesterday in the quarterfinals of Carlsbad at the Southern California Open. 

The numbers of doubles players certainly exceeds those that play singles. Down The Tee readers frequently speak out for more coverage, too. 

A packed Grandstand 2 Court at Citi Open proved the point. After several brief rain delays, fans were antsy for the Women's Doubles Final to begin. 

American teen Taylor Townsend and Canadian teen Eugenie Bouchard, called 'Genie,' were up against the No. 1 seeded team of Shuko Aoyama and Vera Dushevina

Aoyama and Dushevina have not played regularly together. Aoyama was half the finalist doubles team in D. C. two years ago. Last year, she won the title with Cham Kai-chen. 

Townsend is one of the bright developing stars in the America Tennis galaxy. She is the 2012 ITF Junior Champion, 17, a fierce competitor, and keeps things light during a match. Bouchard has skyrocketed in the rankings this year -- to No. 55 -- and is the No. 1 player in Canada. 

Townsend and Bouchard are a new item in women's doubles; they hope to team up again and again. They were the ones having a bit of fun on court, but ultimately were defeated 63 63.

"Yeah … I'm happy about being in the final," Townsend began, as Bouchard sit quietly next to her, her eyes averted. "But I wanted to win. I'm sad we didn't win."

To keep herself upbeat, like in the match … as she described it, Townsend smiles and makes fun of errors. She whiffed on a volley today, glanced up at Bouchard, and burst out laughing. 

"If I don't do that, I'll go all over the place," Townsend said, moving her hands around her head as if shooing a swarm of flies. 

Natalie Tauziat, former world No. 3 and 1998 Wimbledon finalist, is Bouchard's coach. She was on hand during the match. After the girls lost the first set, Tauziat came on court to coach the team.

"She told us to be more aggressive," Bouchard said. "That's our best game, being aggressive. So that's what we did." 

In the fall of 2012, Tauziat, who is 46 now, was asked to leave the French Federation of Tennis management committee. She had testified in favor of her former coach, 70-year-old Regis de Camaret, who was found guilty of raping two young players aged 12 and 13. Gilbert Ysern, Roland Garros tournament director and one of the most influential men in tennis, was 'deeply disturbed' with Tauziat's statements. But Tauziat stood her ground, as she did on a tennis court, at times irritable, obstinate and argumentative. 

Today, she sat quietly in the bleachers, yet you could hear, 'allez,' when Bouchard was within earshot of her coach. 

Townsend and Bouchard plan to play other tournaments, but are not scheduled to trip the light fantastic at the U. S. Open. "She picked someone else," Townsend said, making a pouty face. Bouchard has teamed up with Mallory Burdette instead.  

Martina Hingis knows what winning at a young age means. She won the Australian Open, her first slam trophy, in 1997 at 17. According to the WTA, that victory remains one of her most memorable career experiences. She has more career singles titles -- 43 -- than doubles -- 37, but the spread is pretty narrow.

She will partner with Daniela Hantuchova at this year's U. S. Open. Could she add to her trophy collection? No doubt. 


© Jane Voigt Tennis 2013