Overhead shot of Eugenie Bouchard tossing a ball up and preparing to hit a serve.

Photo : Tennis Canada

When Eugenie Bouchard dons the red and white at the Billie Jean King Cup Finals in November, it will be her first time representing Canada at the team competition in over five years. 

In fact, technically it will be her first time competing at the “Billie Jean King Cup” as it was still called the “Fed Cup” when she last competed and was still the old format rather than the current version with the Finals. 

Her last appearance was in April 2018 when Team Canada presented by Sobeys played host to Ukraine in a World Group II play-off. Bouchard was playing at home in Montreal and played a pivotal role in Canada’s 3-2 victory, winning both of her singles matches. 

Hometown hero 

But Bouchard’s heroics were more than just winning a few matches over a couple of days. 

The Montrealer was the leader of an underdog squad looking to try and avoid falling into the regional zones of the competition. Bouchard was the top Canadian with a singles ranking of 117 and was joined by a pair of young teammates, 21-year-old Francoise Abanda and 17-year-old Bianca Andreescu, along with doubles specialist Gabriela Dabrowski.  

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On the other side of the net stood an experienced Ukrainian team led by two Top 100 players, Lesia Tsurenko and Kateryna Bondarenko. Bondarenko, the Ukranian No. 2, was nearly 40 spots ahead of the Canadian No. 1 in the rankings, meaning no matter what match-ups the Canadians got, they were fighting an uphill battle. 

Things went from bad to worse for the hosts when Abanda, the second-ranked Canadian, got injured in warm-up and had to be replaced by Andreescu, who herself ended up retiring in the third set against Tsurenko to put Team Canada in an early hole. 

Bouchard had to come out for the second singles match after a massively deflating opening match. Not only did Canada need a win just to avoid a brutal 0-2 hole, but just to have any positive feeling going into the second day of the tie.  

Needing a spark, Bouchard provided.  

The Canadian No. 1 raced through the opening set against Bondarenko before settling in for a fight in the second. The Ukrainian hung tough but Bouchard was not to be denied, breaking late to take the set and level the tie heading into day two. 

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Scoring that win was massive and gave the Canadians some much-needed momentum going into the second day, where it looked like everything was going to be stacked against them. 

Neither Abanda nor Andreescu were ready for singles action, so it was going to be doubles specialist Dabrowski playing the second singles match of the day. That added more pressure onto Bouchard heading into the battle of No. 1s with Tsurenko, knowing she likely needed to win to keep Canada’s hopes alive. 

Tsurenko was heavily favoured, ranked a full 70 spots ahead of the Canadian, and grabbed the opening set to put Canada on the ropes. But Bouchard was not about to let her hometown fans, her team, or her country down. She rallied to force a third set. 

The decider came down to a tense tiebreaker and it the was home favourite who held her nerve. Bouchard took the tiebreak 7-5 to give Canada the 2-1 lead. 

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Having done all she could to put Canada in position to win, Bouchard was left to watch as Dabrowski had two shots to close out the tie. While the Ukrainians did force the tie to a fifth and deciding rubber, the doubles, Dabrowski and Andreescu finished the job that Bouchard had started with a three-set win to clinch the tie 3-2 and keep Canada in the World Group II. 

For her performance, Bouchard earned the Billie Jean King Cup heart award.

Bouchard at the Billie Jean King Cup 

The 2018 meeting with Ukraine was Bouchard’s 10th tie for Canada in Billie Jean King Cup/Fed Cup competition. 

She made her debut in 2011 at the age of 16, also in the World Group II Play-Offs, this time against Slovenia where she won one and lost one singles rubber. Her win kept Canada alive, leveling the tie at 2-2 although Slovenia did go on to win the decisive doubles. 

Read also: Fernandez, Dabrowski Send Canada Into Billie Jean King Cup Finals

Overall, Bouchard has a 13-4 match record in the competition, 12-4 in singles and 1-0 in doubles. 

Losing to Slovenia in 2011 sent Canada back to the Americas Zone, where the country had spent most of its history at the Billie Jean King Cup since the World Group format was adopted in 1995. But Bouchard put the nation on her back starting in 2013 and helped her country climb into the World Group for the first time in their history. 

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After not playing for Canada in 2012, Bouchard went 6-1 in 2013, her busiest year in the competition, helping them get out of the Americas zone and past Ukraine in the World Group II Play-Offs, coincidently the same stage and opponent as five years later. Like the 2018 clash, Bouchard was clutch, winning two matches on the final day, including a singles win over Tsurenko and the decisive doubles match. 

In 2014, she was a perfect 4-0 in Canada’s two ties, including the clinching match that sent Canada past Slovakia and into the top group of the Billie Jean King Cup competition for the first time. 

The 2023 Billie Jean King Cup Finals will be Bouchard’s first time at the reorganized event.