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Gullickson, Parrott Win Mixed Doubles; Oudin, Isner Win Upsets

August 26, 2009 11:37 AM
Carly Gullickson won the US Open Mixed Doubles title.
Oudin pumps herself up at the US Open. Photo: Cynthia Lum

Thursday, Sept. 10
Just two days before the US Open began, Carly Gullickson received a text from Travis Parrott, asking if she needed a mixed doubles partner. The answer was a very fortunate yes.

As a wild card, the makeshift team went on to knock off the third seeds in the quarters and the top seeds in the semis.

The final meant a showdown with the defending champions and No. 2 seeds Cara Black and Leander Paes. Gullickson, originally of Brentwood, Tenn., and Parrott, formerly of Atlanta and two-time NCAA champion with the Georgia Bulldogs, won the US Open Mixed Doubles Championship with a convincing 6-2, 6-4 win. The pair earned a $150,000 check and a part of Grand Slam history.

Asked who was the dominant player, Parrott said about Gullickson in the post-match interview, "She's the MVP. She won that 10-point rally with Max Mirnyi," Parrott added about an important point in an earlier match.

Television commentators agreed with Parrott, noting that Gullickson's play dominated the final.

Wednesday, Sept. 9
With her trademark saying "Believe" emblazon on her shoes and the t-shirts worn by her family and coach, Melanie Oudin walked into Arthur Ashe Stadium to the rising cheers of the American crowd. But, Oudin could never raise her level of play to the heights that carried her to upsets over four Russian foes.

In the US Open quarterfinals, Oudin faced No. 9 Caroline Wozniacki, the Dane who has won three times on tour this year. Wozniacki did what Oudin's other opponents couldn't: kept the unforced errors down through two sets. The result was an easy 6-2, 6-2 victory for Wozniacki.

Match statistics show the key to the match: Oudin made 43 unforced errors to Wozniacki's 20. While Oudin did more than double the Dane's winners -- 11 to 5 -- Wozniacki's winning formula was built on consistency not power.

Oudin's showing moved her ranking to No. 44, her highest ever. She also become a member of the prestigious US Open Final 8 Club, open to players who advance to the final eight (quarterfinals in singles, semifinals in doubles) of a US Open main draw event.

Tuesday, Sept. 8
Carly Gullickson and Travis Parrott knocked off the top seeds in the US Open mixed doubles and have advanced to the finals.

Gullickson, formerly of Brentwood, Tenn. and Parrott, formerly of Atlanta and two-time NCAA champion with the Georgia Bulldogs, dominated the match over Liezel Huber and Mahesh Bhupathi 6-3, 6-4. The Southern pair hit 12 winners compared to none from the No. 1 team.

Gullickson and Parrott still have work to do in the final as they face the No. 2-seeded team of Cara Black and Leander Paes. The match is scheduled for Thursday at 11 a.m

Monday, Sept. 6
Another Russian, another rollover.

Marietta, Ga.'s Melanie Oudin dug out from a 6-1 first-set loss to defeat her fourth-straight Russian opponent and vaulted into her first Grand Slam quarterfinal.

Nadia Petrova dominated the first set with her power and first serve. But the resilient American capitalized on Petrova's mistakes and loss of focus, winning 1-6, 7-6(2), 6-3.

Oudin's family were center stage on television. Melanie's fraternal twin sister, accomplished junior Katherine, burst into tears of joy when Oudin pulled out the victory. Commentator Mary Carillo called Katherine's reaction "my favorite part of the match." Parents John and Leslie, along with little sister, Christina, were seen cheering throughout the contest. Her coach, Brian de Villiers of the Racquet Club of the South, was keeping track of the match by writing notes.

"They gave me more motivation. It was just awesome" Melanie said of her family's presence in the Player's Box.

Noting that she couldn't solve Petrova in the first set, Oudin said in an oncourt interview, "She kept moving me left to right. But I started playing better and gained more confidence and started to believe." Television cameras have zeroed in on Oudin's shoes that display her new one-word mantra: Believe.

"She was all over me but I kept fighting," Oudin said.

The 17-year-old continued with her successful strategy of hitting deep, pentrating strokes and allowing her frustrated foes the chance to make unforced errors. She has defeated, in succession, No. 4 Elena Dementieva, former No. 1 Maria Sharapova and No. 13 Petrova.

The teenager from Georgia will face Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki, seeded No. 9, on Wednesday. Both players are in their first Grand Slam quarterfinal.

John Isner capitalized on the momentum he’s had this year – his best ever – by reaching the round of 16. But, then he ran into No. 10 Fernando Verdasco. The former four-time All-American from the University of Georgia took the first set 6-4 but dropped the next three by the same score. Isner is a native of Greensboro, N.C.

Sunday, Sept. 6
In the mixed doubles, Carly Gullickson, formerly of Brentwood, Tenn., and Travis Parrott defeated Sania Mirza and Daniel Nestor 6-1, 6-4. Russians Maria Kirilenko and Elena Vesnina, seeded tenth, eliminated Gullickson and Alexa Glatch 7-6(3), 6-2 from the women's doubles.

Saturday, Sept. 5
Southern tennis players took down not one but two former No. 1 players in a glorious day at the US Open.

John Isner, former Georgia Bulldog and native of Greensboro, N.C., knocked off former No. 1 Andy Roddick 7-6(3), 6-3, 3-6, 5-7, 7-6(5). Earlier in the day Melanie Oudin, the pride of Marietta, Ga., dusted off her second former No. 1 opponent, defeating Maria Sharapova in the third round of the US Open 3-6, 6-4, 7-5.

Isner took the first two sets against Roddick, who nearly won Wimbledon in July and has had a strong year. As the match progressed Roddick, gained momentum behind ever-growing crowd support.

But, Isner fought Roddick and progressed into a final-set tiebreak. There, Isner won the only point not won on serve -- a dipping backhand passing shot -- that decided the match.

Advancing to the fourth round, Isner is having his most successful Grand Slam ever. Next up for the 6'9" American is Fernando Verdasco, the No. 10 seed from Spain.

On the women's side, Oudin put way a forehand on match point and then showed her youthful enthusiasm, dropping her racquet and putting her arms up in joyfully triumph.

The 17-year-old has had only two strong tournaments this summer and she's wisely picked Wimbledon and the US Open to shine. In the span of two months she's become a household name, even if America has learned how to pronounce her traditionally-pronounced French surname.

At Wimbledon she defeated former No. 1 Jelena Jankovic to reach the fourth round. At the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center she upset No. 4 Elena Dementieva to set up the matchup with Sharapova.

Even though Sharapova is usually the fan favorite, the American crowd backed the young Georgian, helping her recover in the second and third sets. Oudin was also helped by a horrible serving effort by Sharapova, who set a women's tournament record by double faulting 21 times.

Tied 5-5 in the final set, Oudin broke the Russian. Then, the American served boldly and without nervousness, blasting her way to a self-assured hold and the match.

Oudin's next match is another faceoff with a top Russian. Her opponent is Nadia Petrova, whose currently ranked No. 13 but was ranked No. 3 three years ago. Petrova has won nine tour titles.

Friday, Sept. 4
Robby Ginepri overcame appendicitis, the loss of 30 pounds and a nine-day stay in the hospital this spring to win the Indianapolis tournament in July. But, he ran into the No. 32 seed in Nicolas Almagro in the second round and lost a 3-hour, 35-minute match 6-7(7), 6-2, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4.

Carly Gullickson teamed up with Alexa Glatch to defeat the seventh-seeded team of Su-Wei Hsieh and Shuai Peng 7-5, 6-3. In the mixed doubles, Gullickson and Travis Parrott of Portland, Ore. Prevailed over the sixth-seeded team of Nadia Petrova and Max Mirnyi 6-2, 2-6, [11-9].

Americans John Isner and Sam Querrey couldn’t get past the second round as they lost to Ivan Ljubicic and Michael Loodra 3-6, 7-6(12), 6-2.

Thursday, Sept. 3
In the biggest upset of this US Open and the biggest win of her still-young career, Melanie Oudin took down No. 4 Elena Dementieva in a shocking 5-7, 6-4, 6-3 victory on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Oudin showed the spark, spunk and competitive drive that has become her trademark, battling with Dementieva, who was the women's US Open Series winner and the hottest player on tour since Wimbledon.

"I didn't want to waste my last (match point), so I went for a big serve. I was just happy it went in," said the Marietta, Ga. native in a on-court TV interview just after the match. While she didn't have an ace in the second-round match, Oudin's service winner on her third match point secured the victory. Oudin won seven of the 13 breaks in the match.

While she defeated former No. 1 Jelena Jankovic at Wimbledon this year, Dementieva is the highest ranked player at the time of the match that Oudin has defeated.

Oudin's next opponent just may be another Russian of note. She'll face the winner of the match between former No. 1 Maria Sharapova and 17-year-old American Christina McHale, who earned a wild card into the main draw by winning the USTA Girls’ 18s National Championships.

Wednesday, Sept. 2
Robby Ginepri started slow but eventually mowed down Andrei Pavel to win his opening round match 5-7, 6-2, 6-4, 6-0. The Kennewaw. Ga. resident knocked off 45 winners and eight aces. The loss effectively ended the Romanian’s Grand Slam career as he announced earlier that he would retire at the end of 2009.

The 26-year-old Ginepri will face Nicolas Almagro, the 32nd seed, in the second round. Almagro has been touted as the one of the strongest player from Spain since Rafael Nadal but his rise up the rankings has been slower than predicted.

Former Southern doubles partners had success in the first round, but with different partners. Julie Ditty, of Ashland, Ky., and Liga Dekmeijere of Latvia defeated the veteran doubles players Alicia Molik and Meghann Shaughnessy 7-6(4), 6-1. Brentwood, Tenn. native Carly Gullickson and American Alexa Glatch edged out Polona Hercoq and Roberta Vinci 4-6, 6-2, 7-6(7).

John Isner and Sam Querrey, an imposing duo in size, defeated Americans Qayne Odexnik and Michael Shabaz 6-3, 6-4 in the first round. Atlanta’s Donald Young and doubles partner David Martin fell to Michael Kohlmann and Rogier Wassen 7-6(3), 4-6, 6-4. Scoville Jenkins and Shenay Perry lost in the opening round to Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Nenad Zimonjic 6-3,  6-2.

In upcoming action, Isner has an afternoon second-round match versus little-known  Turkish player Marsel Ilhan on the Grandstand.

Melanie Oudin has one of the toughest matches of her career as she is scheduled to face No. 4 Elena Dementieva in the second round. Even though the Marietta, Ga. resident has defeated a former No. 1 player – Jelena Jankovic at Wimbledon – Dementieva is the highest ranked player Oudin has ever faced. Oudin is ranked No. 70.

Oudin is also schedule to play women’s doubles with Ayumi Morita of Japan against the No. 2-seeded Spanish pair of Anabel Medina Garrigues and Virginia Ruano Pascual.

One of the most intriguing matchups is a first-round mixed doubles match: all Southern and all NCAA-champion. That’s right … the two reigning NCAA Division I singles champions – Mallory Cecil, formerly of Duke, and Devin Britton, formerly of Ole Miss – will team up in doubles. Long-time friends Cecil and Britton will face Americans Jill Craybas and Eric Butorac.

Tuesday, Sept. 1
Melanie Oudin made short work of Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova with a 6-1, 6-2 opening round victory. Oudin, of Marietta, Ga., will have a tougher contest in the second round as she will face No. 4 Elena Dementieva, who defeated France's Camille Pin.

Mallory Cecil, who won the NCAA Division I championship this year for Duke, had a tough match and lost to Tathiana Garbin 6-0, 6-1.

Robby Ginepri and Scoville Jenkins, both of metro Atlanta, lost in the first round of doubles competition. They were bested by Spaniards Oscar Hernandez and Albert Montanes 6-4, 1-6, 6-1.

Monday, Aug. 31
Surprise, surprise! Devin Britton lost to No. 1 Roger Federer.

But the reigning NCAA Division I singles champion Britton, of Brandon, Miss., made a match of his first-round encounter with Federer 6-1, 6-3, 7-5. He pushed the Swiss in the third set before losing his serve one too many times. The tone of the match was set from the beginning with Federer taking the first set in only 18 minutes.

"It's hard not to think about who I'm playing," Britton said, drawing laugther. "I didn't really start thinking about my own game until late in the second set.''

The summer continues to sizzle for John Isner as he upset Victor Hanescu in straight sets 6-1, 7-6(14), 7-6(5). The former Georgia Bulldog and NCAA doubles titlist saved 10 set points in a mammoth 30-point, second-set tiebreak. Isner survival skills kicked in at 3-6 when he needed to save three set points to even the tiebreak.

“Obviously, I didn't really want to go to a tiebreaker. I had a 3-1 lead or whatnot in the second set. I think I was down 5-2, and he was serving, so he had two serves at 5-2 and 6-3," Isner said of the second-set tiebreak. "I played two good service points at 6-3 and 6-4 and played a really good point at 6-5, so I leveled it up. I think he had maybe five on his serve, and each one of his points I played really, really well. I just told myself if I could just get one advantage I might be able to take it. That's what happened," the Greensboro, N.C. native added.

Isner will face Marsel Ilhan of Turkey, who upset Christophe Rochus, in the second round.

Carly Gullickson wasn’t able to overcome the American veteran Jill Craybus. 6-3, 7-6(5) in the first round. Gullickson was able to convert four of seven break points but Craybus had a bundle of chances – 15 to be exact – and got one more break by converting five.

Donald Young ran into Spain’s longtime stalwart Tommy Robredo and lost 6-4, 3-6, 6-2, 6-3. Young, of Atlanta, reached the first round of the main draw after moving through the qualies.

Sunday, Aug. 30
Donald Young defeated Lukas Rosol of the Czech Republic 6-3, 6-4 to gain a spot in the US Open main draw. The 20-year-old from Atlanta will face 14th-seed Tommy Robredo in the first round.

With her straight-set victory over Bojana Jovanovski, Carly Gullickson advanced to the main draw. The 22-year-old is a native of Brentwood, Tenn. She will play veteran American Jill Craybus, now ranked No. 75.

Atlanta’s Scoville Jenkins missed a shot at making the main draw when he lost to Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci 6-2, 6-4 in the last qualifying round.

Devin Britton’s surprise 2009 NCAA Division I Singles crown helped get him a wild card into the US Open main draw.

What an opportunity! What a joy!

Then came the draw.

Britton’s first round opponent is none other than Roger Federer, five-time defending champion, No. 1 seed and, according to many pundits, the greatest player who ever lived.

As quoted by Rick Cleveland of the The Clarion-Ledger of Jackson, Miss., the 18-year-old said, "It's crazy, isn't it? … I grew up watching Federer play. He's always been one of my favorites to watch." Click for full story.

"It's a great showcase for Devin, for Mississippi tennis, for Ole Miss tennis, for college tennis," Ole Miss tennis coach Billy Chadwick said. "He's going to be nervous. That's a given, but Devin is that rare individual who does not show the pressure. There's something about him that thrives on pressure."

Three other Southern players are all underdogs according to the rankings.

No. 67 Melanie Oudin  will face No. 38 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia. If Oudin, of Marietta, Ga., wins, she could face No. 4 Elena Dementieva in the second round.

Mallory Cecil, also the reigning NCAA Division I Singles champion, will face Italian veteran Tathiana Garbin, who’s ranked No. 58. Cecil, who play for Duke, lives in Spartanburg, S.C.

No. 55 John Isner, who grew up in Greensboro, N.C., will play Victor Hanescu, who is ranked No. 29.

Robby Ginepri, of Kennesaw, Ga., is now ranked No. 75. His opponent is Andrei Pavel of Romania. Pavel’s is ranked No. 720 but got entry into the US Open based on a injury-protected ranking. Pavel's highest ranking was No. 13 in 2004; Ginepri’s highest ranking was No. 15 in 2005.

Thursday, Aug. 27
Atlanta continues to be well-represented at the 2009 US Open Qualifying Tournament as Donald Young and Scoville Jenkins advanced with straight-set victories.

Young won his second-round contest versus Spaniard Guillermo Olaso 7-5, 6-2. Jenkins prevailed over American Michale McClune 6-3, 6-4.

Carly Gullickson, a long-time resident of Brentwood, Tenn., defeated Zuzana Kucova of Slovakia 7-6(8), 6-2.

Former LSU standout Michael Venus lost a two-hour, five-minute battle with Giovanni Lapentti of Ecuador 6-3, 7-6(1), 6-3.

 

Wednesday, Aug. 27
Donald Young matched fellow Atlantan Scoville Jenkins' first-round victory when he won his first match in the 2009 US Open Qualifying Tournament.

 

Young, ranked 185, defeated Italian Marco Crugnola 7-6(2), 6-4.

 

Another winner with Southern ties was former LSU Tiger Michael Venus who downed Marcel Felder 7-6(5), 6-4. 

 

Two other young Southerners did not have as much success. Jordan Cox, of Duluth, Ga., was overmatched by the 23rd seed, Sebastien De Chaunac of France, 6-1, 6-2. Tennys Sandgren, of Gallatin, Tenn., lost to Juan Pablo Brzezicki 6-4, 6-3.

 

On the women’s side, two veterans ran into trouble. Lindsay Lee-Waters, of Norcross, Ga., lost to another long-time American player Angela Haynes 6-3, 6-2. Ashland, Ky’s Julie Ditty fell to Russian Anna Lapushchenkova 7-6(3), 6-3.

Tuesday, Aug. 26
Scoville Jenkins won his first-round 2009 US Open Qualifying match, defeating Dominik Hrbaty, the former No. 12 player from Slovakia, 6-3, 6-4. No. 256 Jenkins, from Atlanta, has been competing in USTA Pro Circuit tournaments throughout the summer.

Also winning was Carly Gullickson, the No. 132 player originally from Brentwood, Tenn. Gullickson, ranked No. 132, defeated Bulgarian Tatiana Poutchek 6-1, 6-3.

Georgia Tech sophomore Irina Falconi, a 2009 All-American, lost her match to Lauren Embree 6-4, 6-1. Also falling in the first round was Ryan Lipman, of Nashville, Tenn., Illya Marchenko  of Ukraine defeated Lipman 6-4, 7-6(5).

Other Southern players in the qualies include Jordan Cox, of Duluth, Ga.; Julie Ditty, of Ashland, Ky.; Lindsay Lee-Waters, of Dunwoody, Ga.; Tennys Sandgren, of Gattalin, Tenn. and Donald Young, of Atlanta.

 

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