My choices for the 2022 WTA Player Awards — Must-click women’s tennis links

The IX: Tennis Tuesday with Joey Dillon, Nov. 22, 2022

Howdy, everyone and Happy Tennis Tuesday! If I’m going to be quite honest, the first week of the offseason was a bit dull, but fortunately, the WTA announced their nominees for the 2022 Player Awards yesterday! As a writer who’s voted for the awards in the past, I decided to continue my tradition of sharing my choices.

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WTA Player of the Year

  • Iga Swiatek
  • Ons Jabeur
  • Coco Gauff
  • Jessica Pegula
  • Caroline Garcia
  • Elena Rybakina

I mean — seriously? Iga Swiatek was unreal in 2022 once Ashleigh Barty announced her retirement in February. Speaking of, I’m surprised Barty wasn’t listed here as one of the Grand Slam winners. Elena Rybakina hadn’t done much outside of her Wimbledon run and is on the list. Anywho, back to Iga. 67 match wins that led to 8 singles titles — including two Grand Slams and four WTA 1000s? Incredible. Toss in her 37-match winning streak, which is the longest this century.

WTA Doubles Team of the Year

  • Barbora Krejcikova/Katerina Siniakova
  • Veronika Kudermetova/Elise Mertens
  • Coco Guff/Jessica Pegula
  • Gabriela Dabrowski/Giuliana Olmos
  • Lyudmyla Kichenok/Jelena Ostapenko

WTA Most Improved Player of the Year

  • Veronika Kudermetova
  • Beatriz Haddad Maia
  • Ekaterina Alexandrova
  • Liudmila Samsonova
  • Ajla Tomljanovic

Beatriz Haddad Maia has been known to WTA fans for quite some time, but then she struggled massively with injuries and then an anti-doping ban. She worked her way up from the ground — qualifying for the lowest levels of the ITF World Tour. She entered 2022 inside the Top 100, but her surprising grass court run by winning two consecutive WTA 250s put her on notice. Then at the WTA 1000 in Toronto, she stormed her way to the final and broke into the Top 20. She also was competitive in doubles, winning Sydney and making the Australian Open final before finishing the year at the WTA Finals.

WTA Newcomer of the Year

  • Zheng Qinwen
  • Linda Fruhvirtova
  • Jule Niemeier
  • Mayar Sherif
  • Harriet Dart
  • Laura Pigossi

To be quite frank, I was a little disappointed in the overall nominee pool here but Qinwen and Fruhvirtova are the two standouts — by far. However, Fruhvirtova’s run to the fourth round of Miami was eye-opening, followed by her winning Chennai at just 17 solidified all of the think pieces of her being one to watch. Qinwen was already in the Top 150 entering the year and had more results on paper compared to Fruhvirtova, but I can see the overall media list choosing the Chinese. However, Fruhvirtova going from playing and winning W25 ITF World Tour events in February to capturing a WTA 250 and cracking the Top 100 by September is quite the feat.

WTA Comeback Player of the Year

  • Daria Saville
  • Tatjana Maria
  • Serena Williams
  • Donna Vekic

While you know I’m a Serena stan, the GOAT doesn’t and shouldn’t be on this list. Sure, her US Open run was inspiring, but also, should a retired player be up for a comeback award? Donna Vekic came back from injury, but nothing really stood out outside of her San Diego final run. Tatjana Maria made a strong case where she was playing qualifying of a W60 in January and then found herself in the Wimbledon semifinals. Unfortunately, she didn’t earn a single ranking point due to the ban on Russian/Belarussian players, but a title in Bogota as a qualifier helped lift her back into the Top 100. However, this one is all Saville. She ended her 2021 season after the Australian swing to have Achilles surgery and came back in the off-season to partake in the Billie Jean King Cup Finals. In her formal WTA return, she was extremely consistent with a Miami quarterfinal and Granby final among her highlights. She found herself back in the Top 50 as a result, but her 2022 season ended with her second ACL injury and she hopes to be back in time for the US hardcourt swing.

WTA Coach of the Year

  • David Witt (coaches Jessica Pegula)
  • Tomasz Wiktorowski (Iga Swiatek)
  • Carlos Martinez (Daria Kasatkina)
  • Issam Jellali (Ons Jabeur)
  • Bertrand Perret (Caroline Garcia)
  • Corey Gauff and Diego Moyano (Coco Gauff)
  • Rafael Paciaroni (Beatriz Haddad Maia)
  • Tom Hill (Maria Sakkari)

While part of me wants to pick Bertrand Perret for his incredible work to bring Caroline Garcia back to the Top 10 when she was essentially already written off, you really can’t deny the work Tomasz Wiktorowski has done for Iga Swiatek. Also, Perret and Garcia breaking up on the eve of the WTA Finals doesn’t help in picking my pick. Wiktorowski and Swiatek’s first year together built one of the most dominant WTA seasons in recent memory. I’ll give credit where credit’s due and Swiatek has a really good team around her that can perhaps keep her cemented atop of the game for a very long time, which is a bit scary.

Let me know your thoughts if you have any, but now, onto links!

This Week in Women’s Tennis

It was the third time lucky for Panna Udvardy, who won her first WTA 125 title in Buenos Aires with a win over Danka Kovinic. The doubles title went to Irina Bara and Sara Errani, who downed Jang Su Jeong and You Xiaodi.

The WTA announced a 2023 provisional calendar featuring a couple of new tournaments in Austin, Texas and Merida, Mexico. So far still not on the list? China — for now.

Wimbledon is finally altering their all-white dress code to accommodate women who play through their menustrual cycles.

You always hear about bettors threatening players on social media, but Hannah Jane Parkinson’s account of her own tennis gambling addiction is an eye-opener and this week’s must-read.

2022 was quite a year for Caroline Garcia, who says she learned a lot about herself as both a player and person following this year’s success.

I constantly say who representation matters and getting women’s tennis events in new countries is a must. India hopes their WTA 250 in Chennai will see long-term growth that includes the rise of potential star Jennifer Luikham, while Kenya is hosting two W15 ITF World Tour events, where Angella Okutoyi became the first Kenyan to reach an ITF final.

Congratulations to Storm Sanders, who got married over the weekend. She will officially have the best name in tennis:

Laura Robson continues to stay involved with the game following her premature retirement due to injuries. The Brit was announced as the Tournament Director for the WTA 250 in Nottingham.

Fiona Crawley was utterly ruthless in the NCAA Fall season, but the Tar Heel wants the elusive team success that has plagued one of the best programs in Division I women’s tennis.

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Tweet of the Week

Legendary tennis coach Nick Bolletteri is still hanging in there after some posts were shared where he looked in significantly poor health.

Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson, AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By: Joey Dillon, @JoeyDillon, Freelance Tennis Writer
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal, The Next
Thursdays: Golf
By: Addie Parker, @addie_parker, The IX
Fridays: Hockey
By: @TheIceGarden, The Ice Garden
Saturdays: Gymnastics
By: Lela Moore, @runlelarun, Freelance Writer

Written by Joey Dillon