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IMG Academy alum Heather Watson named Sunday Times Young Sportswomen of the Year

Watson celebrates her win in the HP Open in Osaka, Japan, Oct. 14 (AP Photo)

It has been a big year for IMG Academy alumnus Heather Watson. The 20-year old tennis sensation was named to the U.K. tennis team to compete in the London Olympic games, and became the first British woman to win a WTA Tour tennis singles title in 24 years when she won the HP Open, held in Osaka, Japan, Oct. 8-14. With the win she reached her current career high singles ranking, checking in at No. 49 in the world. Watson added another prestigious honor to her résumé when she was awarded theYoung Sportswomen of the Year Award at the 2012Sunday Times Sportswomen of the Year Awards ceremony, the Lawn Tennis Association announced on Thursday. She was co-honored alongside fellow tennis star, and 2012 London Olympics teammate Laura Robson.

Watson's rise in the tennis world began more than eight years ago when she arrived atIMG Academy at the age of 12. She made the journey across the Atlantic to train with the IMG Academy Bollettieri Tennis Program and attend school. While a student at IMG Academy, Watson took home a number of junior titles including the British U-14 Championship (2006), British U-16 Championship (2007), and most impressively, took the title at the 2009 U.S. Open Juniors singles, defeating Russia's Yana Buchina 6-4, 6-1. Watson graduated in 2009, and continues to train at IMG Academy.

From the Lawn Tennis Association:

Heather Watson and Laura Robson have both been jointly named Young Sportswomen of the Year Award at the 2012Sunday Times Sportswomen of the Year Awards

The duo were both honouredat the Awards ceremony which took place at the Sunday Times offices on Thursday evening and sawOlympic heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis win the Sunday Times Sportswoman of the Year Award.

Watson has finished the year as British No.1 with one singles title and two doubles titles. InOsaka 20 year-old Watson became the first British player to win a WTA title since Sara Gomer in 1988, saving four match points in the third set to end a 24 year title drought among British women.

Her run at Osaka was the first time she had advanced beyond the quarter-finals at a WTA event.Earlier in the year Watson advanced to the third round of Wimbledon, her best Grand Slam result to date.

Watson also won the first two doubles titles of her career in Stanford and Dallas, both with MarinaErakovic.

Robson, at Guangzhou in September, became the first British woman to reach a WTA final since 1990 where Jo Durie, was the runner-up at Newport.

2012 marked the first year Robson played in main draw at all four Slams, including her first direct entry at the US Open. In Flushing Meadows, she defeated Kim Clijsters in her final singles match of her career and followed this up by beating Li Na in round three as she became the first British woman to reach round 16 at a Slam since 1991.

Earlier in the year, Robson reached the semi-finals at Palermo, her first career WTA appearance in a semi-final.

Robson finished the year as the second youngest player in the top 100,at No.53, the youngest being the recent winner of AEGON GB Pro-Series Barnstaple, Annika Beck of Germany. Robson also won a silver medal in mixed doubles at the 2012 London Olympics with Andy Murray.

The pair received these awards shortly after finding out they were nominated for the 'Newcomer of the Year' category at the 2012 WTA Awards as voted upon by the media.

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