The results are in, and 18-year-old American Catherine “CiCi” Bellis has been named the WTA Newcomer of the Year for 2017.
After finishing 2016 as the youngest player in the Top 100, the American teenager shot up the rankings this season, marking several milestones along the way.
1. Bellis reached her first Premier 5 quarterfinal at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. To reach the quarters, Bellis had to beat No.6-ranked Agnieszka Radwanska, and the teenager came away with a three-set victory, notching the first Top 10 win of her career in the process.
2. At the Bank of the West Classic in Stanford, she reached her maiden Premier-level semifinal. After beating Alizé Cornet and Veronica Cepede Royg to reach another Premier quarterfinal, Bellis upset second seed Petra Kvitova, 6-2, 6-0, claiming another Top 20 win.
3. She became only the third American this century to reach the third round of the French Open before age 19. This marked Bellis’ first time in the third round of a major other than the US Open.
She upset No.18 seed and 2016 French Open semifinalist Kiki Bertens in the second round before falling in a tough three-setter to Caroline Wozniacki.
4. Success also came at the International level, on disparate surfaces. Bellis reached the semifinals of the Mallorca Open on grass and the quarterfinals of the Grand Prix De SAR La Princesse Lalla Meryem in Rabat on clay.
Bellis saved a match point to defeat defending champion Timea Bacsinszky, a two-time French Open semifinalist, during her Rabat run.
5. More milestones. Bellis improved her ranking from WTA World No.90 at the start of the year to a career-high No.35 in August.
She also claimed her second Top 10 win of the year at the Rogers Cup in Toronto, where she beat No.8 Svetlana Kuznetsova en route to the third round.