Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
One of the WTA Tour teenagers to keep an eye on next season will be surging Hungarian Agnes Szavay.
The 18-year-old Szavay, who will turn 19 on December 29, entered 2007 as the 185th-ranked woman in the world, and exited it a career-high No. 19.
The youngster from central Europe, she of the big serve and fierce two-handed backhand, captured a pair of titles this year, marking the first ones of her blossoming career. She prevailed in Palermo and Beijing and also posted a runner-up finish in New Haven the week before the U.S. Open commenced.
It was at the U.S. Open where Szavay (pronounced SHAH-veye) enjoyed her best showing at a major, as she soared all the way to the quarterfinals in only her third career Grand Slam event before succumbing to 2004 champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, who also topped the Hungarian in the finale in New Haven less than two weeks earlier.
Szavay was a second-round loser at Wimbledon and the French Open, and did not compete in the main draw at the Aussie Open this year.
Agnes Szavay captured her first two WTA Tour titles this year.
The 5-foot-7, 139-pound Szavay closed out her 2007 campaign by winning 22 of her last 26 matches, including the titles in Palermo and Beijing. She beat former top-10 star Nadia Petrova in the third round at the U.S. Open, clipped current top-10 performer Daniela Hantuchova in the second round in New Haven, and stunned world No. 3 Jelena Jankovic of Serbia for the biggest win of her young career in the hardware match in Beijing.
Szavay, who joined the pro ranks in 2004, piled up 56 match wins in '07 (56-14). She enjoyed a great junior career, which featured a French Open title and a runner-up finish at the Aussie Open in 2005. Also in '05, Szavay did have some senior success, as she reached a semifinal in Modena as a 16-year- old qualifier. Unfortunately for the talented teen, she struggled a bit in 2006 before righting the ship for her quality '07 run.
In 2007, Szavay reached at least the quarterfinals in eight of her 12 WTA tournaments, including a semifinal appearance on home soil in Budapest. The Kiskunhalas (that's in Hungary) native may not have captured the singles title in Budapest, but she did manage to secure her first career doubles championship in her adopted hometown that week.
Hungary's top player landed in at least the quarters in her last six events this year, including a trio of finals, after dropping her second-round tilt at Wimbledon. And she tallied over $500,000 in prize money for the season -- not bad for an 18-year-old, who, by the way, is also ranked inside the world's top-30 in doubles (26th).
Szavay reached at least the quarterfinals in her last six events of 2007.
It mentions in Szavay's WTA bio that her preferred surfaces are clay and hardcourt, which means that since she fails to recognize grass among her faves I, unfortunately, was unable to refer to her as "Agnes of Sod" at any point during this article.
I'll get over it.
Did You Know?: Szavay's 14-year-old sister, Blanka, is also a professional tennis player.
Did You Know?: The Hungarian Tennis Federation celebrated its 100th anniversary this year.
That one I knew.
The athletic Szavay will kick-off her 2008 season at Gold Coast, a hardcourt Aussie Open tune-up that gets underway December 31.