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Oudin Jumps Up To No. 70 In World Rankings

June 29, 2009 06:20 PM

In two weeks, Melanie Oudin skyrocketed from No. 124 to No. 70 on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour singles rankings. The boost was due to upsetting three players including former No. 1 Jelena Jankovic and reaching the Wimbledon round of 16.

Oudin, of Marietta, Ga., is the second youngest player in the Top 70, behind Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia. Oudin turns 18 on Sept. 23.

In the week since her defeat by No. 14 Agnieszka Radwanska in fourth round, Oudin flew into Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport at midnight to be greeted by three television camera and a swarm of well-wishers. She told reporters that she was extremely surprised and pleased by the reception because her flight was four hours late and everyone still waited for her.

Oudin: A Sister And A Star
It’s 7 a.m. on a Monday morning and most everyone is trying to drag themselves out of bed after a hot summer weekend.

Unless you’re an eleven-year-old girl tennis player and your big sister just happens to be playing on TV. In the fourth round. At Wimbledon.

For Christina Oudin and a packed house in the Racquet Club of the South’s restaurant, this was a wake-up call for tennis acclaim. Melanie Oudin, the Marietta, Ga. teen sensation, is emerging as one of America’s newest tennis stars and there was no better place to watch her match than at her home club in Norcross, Ga. With a free breakfast buffet and a roomful of TVs, the club hosted juniors and adult players alike, all of whom roared at any winner from the local-girl-done-good.

With wins in six straight matches (three in qualifying and three in the main draw) on the English grass, Melanie graced newspapers, local TV shows and ESPN’s SportsCenter throughout the weekend. The instant notoriety followed a storybook three-set victory over former No. 1 Jelena Jankovic on Saturday. With a ranking of 124, all of Oudin’s last three victories were upsets.

The first Sunday of Wimbledon is a day off for the players but not for parents of a skyrocketing star. Melanie’s parents, John and Leslie, flew to London to see the Monday match.

As the first Georgia woman in the Open Era to make it to Wimbledon’s round of 16, Oudin had to face No. 14 Agnieszka Radwanska. A grinder similar to Oudin, Poland’s Radwanska has much more experience in pressure-filled Grand Slam matches and kept the heat on Oudin. Unable to hold her last game of the first set, Melanie fell 6-4.

Meanwhile, sister Christina was concentrating on the match whenever she could. With camera operators from three Atlanta TV stations, another videographer from the Matchpoint television show and a photographer from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution milling around her, she had to make time for interviews. A smattering of giggles were heard from Christina’s tennis-playing buddies as the lights came on and the video was recorded.

Sensing the need for Melanie to take charge in the second set, the crowd of more than 50 rode the 17-year-old's fortunes up and down. When her killer down-the-line backhand went untouched, the applause crescendoed. When a forehand sailed long, a communal sigh dampened the room.

By the end of the match, Oudin would have a 31 to 23 lead in winners based on an all-out performance from both wings.

But, also challenging Oudin at the end of the second set, was the need to hold her serve. Down 5-6, the American was facing the same position as in the first set: Hold or lose the set. But, it wasn’t to be.

In Norcross, it was time for a standing ovation. Even with a 6-4, 7-5 defeat, Oudin was the champion of Atlanta and the darling of U.S. hopes. Except for Christina, who probably still thinks of Melanie as the big sister with a bedroom down the hall.

 

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