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HIGH ACHIEVERS: Gabriela Dabrowski, Samuel Charron repeat as annual award winners

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By Martin Cleary

As we approach the end of another year, the sports world always likes to put the spotlight on certain athletes who have made a significant impression in their discipline during the past 12 months.

Tennis doubles specialist Gabriela Dabrowski and para soccer striker Samuel Charron are two long-time, high-performance athletes from Ottawa, who were worthy of special recognition in 2022.

Dabrowski is a double honouree by two different organizations, while Charron has been singled out as the best Canadian in his discipline by his national association.

For a record-tying 10th time, Dabrowski was the recipient of a Tennis Canada Excellence Award as the Female Doubles Player of the Year. She has become the first female and only the second Canadian to be named a player of the year 10 times. Daniel Nestor, who was an exceptional men’s doubles player, also is a 10-time Men’s Player of the Year.

“Gaby has continued to establish herself as one of the world’s best doubles players,” said Tennis Canada president and CEO Michael Downey.

Dabrowski finished her 12th season as a professional tennis player ranked No. 7 in women’s doubles, while her partner for most of her 21 tournaments, Mexico’s Guiliana Olmos, is No. 8.

By winning three doubles tournaments on the WTA circuit – the 1000 Mutua Madrid Open and the 500 Toray Pan Pacific Open with Olmos and an event in Chennai, India with Brazil’s Luisa Stefani – Dabrowski has a career 13 pro titles.

Dabrowski and Olmos also qualified for the WTA Finals in Fort Worth, Texas, and finished with a 1-2 record.

She also competed in the Billie Jean King Cup Finals, where Canada defeated Italy 3-0, but lost to eventual gold-medallist Switzerland 2-1 and finished second in its preliminary pool at 1-1. Dabrowski and Leylah Fernandez comfortably won their two doubles matches, defeating Italy’s Lucia Bronzetti and Jasmine Paolini 6-1, 6-1 and Switzerland’s Jil Teichmann and Simona Waltert 6-2, 6-1.

Dabrowski, who has been ranked as high as fourth by the WTA, posted a 2022 women’s doubles record of 42-21 and earned $588,575. She has earned more than $3.7 million in her career and owns a match record of 387-276.

The WTA also honoured Dabrowski with her third Peachy Kellmeyer Player Service Award. She received the award “for her support for fellow players at all levels of the tour as well as wider WTA initiatives,” a WTA press release said.

Dabrowski also earned the Peachy Kellmeyer award in 2019 and in 2020, when the award was given to the entire WTA Players’ Council for that season’s work.

In 2019, Dabrowski was elected to the WTA Players’ Council for the first time. One of eight members on that council, Dabrowski is responsible for helping players outside the top 20 and is the doubles-only representative. She was recently re-elected for another term on the council.

Sam Charron. File photo

Meanwhile, Samuel Charron was named the Para Soccer Player of the Year for the third time by Canada Soccer. He also earned the same award in 2016 and 2019.

Charron, 24, was the team leader as Canada placed ninth at the International Federation of Cerebral Palsy Football’s World Cup and was named the Player of the Tournament for a second time. He also was pinpointed as the World Cup Player of the Tournament in 2019.

A striker in the Canadian para program since 2010, Charron has represented his country in five IFCPF World Cups (2013, 2015, 2017, 2019 and 2022).

At the 2022 World Cup, he was Canada’s top offensive player with five goals and three assists and played every minute of the team’s five games. The Ottawa TFC Soccer Club player scored the winner in Canada’s 1-0 decision over The Netherlands and two late goals against Australia to send the game into extra time. His other two goals came against Venezuela.

Canada finished a team-best tying ninth out of 15 countries, which matched its performance in 2009, when the World Cup had only 11 teams.

“Samuel is a great captain and leader both on and off the field for our national team,” Drew Ferguson, Canada Soccer’s para soccer national team head coach, said in a press release.

“We had a great World Cup and Samuel was the most valuable player as we finished ninth in the world. He suffered a fractured finger in our first game, but he played the next four games with a soft splint and never once doubted himself. He is just not the type of player who plays at less than 100 per cent or wants to sit on the sideline.”

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Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 50 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.

When the pandemic struck, Martin created the “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at OttawaSportsPages.ca.

Martin can be reached by e-mail at martincleary51@gmail.com and on Twitter @martincleary.

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