Tag Archive: Melanie Oudin


USA F3 Futures Update – What The Hell Is Going On In Weston?

“So, what the hell is going on in Weston?” you may be wondering, if you’re a particularly curious type. After all, I’ve been going there almost every day since last Friday and have yet to write a damn word about it. But keeping my Westonian insight and experience from the world only increases it as a commodity by making it scarce and in demand, don’tcha know?* And yet here I go cheapening things again by pressing fingers to keyboard.

Well, after witnessing the madness that was the Jesse Witten vs. Daniel Garza USA F2 Tamarac semi on Friday, I hightailed it over to the Midtown Athletic Club in Weston, a gorgeous and sprawling 25-court establishment located off the same lot as the Weston City Hall (which is decidedly less gorgeous and sprawling); the sign on the street literally directs you to the “City Hall/Midtown Athletic Club.” Which is a pretty convenient setup when it comes to enforcing code violations, I suppose. I thought it was strange at first, but after five days I’m starting to kind of like it. If I ever run for office now, it’ll be on a “racquet club for every city hall” platform, I think.

So tennis? Of course. A ridiculous amount of it. Sickening, even. Or maybe that was just the smell of the wet clay – hard to say. The 128 qualifying draw format employed on these USTA Pro Circuit Futures events ensures an orgy of frenzied activity in the early going. On the first days, with 64 matches, no posted court assignments, and no on-court officials, it’s as close to athletic anarchy as one could hope to find at a combination tennis club/city hall.

On the way past one of my favorite signs on the grounds…

…I catch my first recognizable player sighting, and it’s none other than Wayne Odesnik, walking back to the clubhouse, sweaty, towel around his neck. Since it’s only about 45 minutes after his match was scheduled to begin, I just assume that Wayno took Nikki Madregallejo to the cleaners. Turned out, however, that Odesnik retired in the first set tiebreak. Some spectators I spoke with later told me they saw Odesnik actually win that breaker (which wouldn’t be the first time the ITF, the USTA, the spectators and/or the players haven’t been in agreement on the score or even outcome of a particular match). Hard to say for sure either way, and I haven’t yet been able to determine what exactly happened in that one.

I wander out near Court 23-ish to the player check-in and ask annoying questions about court assignments. Then I complete my trek over the spacious layout and plop my ass in the comfy grass near Court 22, where Austin Smith takes on 7th seed Joel Kielbowicz. For those who don’t remember (or never knew in the first place), it was Austin who’s credited with coming up with that infamous B-word on then-girlfriend Melanie Oudin’s sneakers during her spirited US Open run (“Believe”, by the way – I have no idea what you’re thinking). Kielbowicz is a 27 year-old four-year UNLV product with a monster serve. As there are no chair umps and players only sometimes call the score (or call it loudly enough when they do), the only way to determine where one is in a match is by checking the tennis ball scoring devices or by paying very close attention.

I’m not doing a good job of either, but it seems like Smith is handling the heat from Kielbowicz, so I amble away to the opposite corner of the grounds; there, 18-year-old, 12th-seeded 1,068th-ranked Brit Jack Carpenter, semifinalist of the 2009 Eddie Herr International junior championships, is taking on unranked 19-year-old American Kurt Thein. The only other people watching the match are each player’s coach. That is, until the affable Alex Ward comes round the corner.  The 8th seed in the main draw and the funniest sub-250-followed tennisser on the twitter had seen me skulking about Tamarac for the better part of the week, and now here I am in the furthermost corner of the complex at the other place, watching his roommate play quallies. What else was there to do but point and laugh? (Amiably, of course.)

I pick myself up out of my comfy chair to have a chat. I plead guilty to their suspicion that, yes, I am the idiot who’s been tweeting every last bit of nonsense from Tamarac the past few days (although they phrase their accusation in a much friendlier fashion). I, in turn, ask Alex whether Katie O’Brien is still kicking his ass in fantasy footy, but he insists he’s had a good week. He tells me about a race to 500 Twitter followers he’s having with another British player and I promise to aid him in his quest. Later, I send out an urgent plea to my loyal minions (or so I thought) to start following him immediately, but his numbers don’t budge. Come on, disloyal minions – do what I tell you, damn it! You’re making me look bad. The next day, I see him again (the entire Brit crew must be convinced I’m stalking them at this point, but it’s not my fault they’re always at the damn tennis) and I ask, “Ya hit 500 followers yet?” “Not quite,” he says, diplomatically. Anyway, here’s you’re last chance to get in on the ground floor of the next Tennis/Twitter superstar. Follow him, you fools.

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USTA AO Wildcard Playoffs Final Day Recap

Well it’s all over for us crazy tennis fans in 2010.  The Australian Open Wildcard play-offs have finally come to an end here in Atlanta and I must admit that I already miss my friends, the fans, and the players of this wonderful sport.

Personally, this was such an incredible event for me because I was able to meet so many new people who are actively involved in the tennis world in one form or another.  I got to know UVA Senior Michael Shabaz since I was the lucky one to pick him up from the airport, and what a terrific guy he is.  I found out so much about him (mainly because I can’t keep my big mouth shut and I like to ask a lot of questions).  This is what Italian people do by the way, they talk a lot. 

Anyway, Michael is a 23-year-old anthropology major and lives in Fairfax Virginia (a suburb of Washington DC).  As we conversed, and I subsequently bored him to tears, he proudly told me that his grandfather, who was a talented soccer player, went to high school with Andre Agassi ‘s dad in Iran (many decades ago).  As most of you know, Agassi’s father was an Olympic boxer. You can read more detail about that in Agassi’s autobiography “Open”, which I highly recommend by the way!  I learned to love Andre even more than I already did after I read his book, and of course his wife shares my name.  I just wish I could have a modicum of her tennis talents.  Dare to dream …

There is no better way to learn about tennis players then by spending time in the players lounge of any tournament, and the AO WC event was no exception.  I was able to talk to, and listen in on many conversations and it was truly so much fun for me as the huge tennis fan that I am.  I am a huge sports fan in general, but tennis is undoubtedly one of my faves.  In case you haven’t figured it out yet, I also play A LOT of tennis too. 

Anyway,  in the course of one day I met Ryan Harrison, Rhyne Williams, Jack Sock, Melanie Oudin, Coco Vandeweghe, Jamie Hampton, Denis Kudla, Jordan Cox and Tim Smyczek.  I learned so many neat things about these players.  For instance, did you know that Tim Smyczek  and John Isner are roommates?  They live in Tampa, Fla and train at Saddlebrook together.  And they also just played  in a charity event up at Marquette University in Milwaukee, where Tim is from. 

Coco has a mean game of table tennis, Melanie Oudin is such an absolute sweetheart, and Rhyne Williams is one BIG guy!  When he got up to play table tennis with Kudla, I was like, “Whooaa dude!”  He is very funny by the way.  Ryan Harrison on the other hand was a bit harder to get to know, which at first I took for pretention, but learned that this wasn’t the case at all.  He is a truly a very nice guy, just very serious about his profession I guess.  He was really cracking the jokes on the court and had me in stitches, really. 

So, I have to save one of new favorite players for last I guess and that couldn’t be anyone else but Jack Sock.  Not only is he one of the sweetest young men that you will ever meet, but his whole family and camp are this way.  His brother Eric, his aunts and uncles and his coach, Mike Wolf, were just so gracious and appreciative of everything you did for them. They all must have said “thank you” a thousand times and to be honest, I really didn’t think I did anything to help them, not enough anyway. 

Jack Sock serving one up at the Racquet Club of the South

I can’t wait to see all these young players go out and compete again in the near future.  The Australian Open cannot come soon enough for me, I can assure you, but we have Auckland (amongst others) to look forward to.  Smyczek, for one, will be going to Auckland by the way, and his “roomie” is the defending champion.  When I mentioned to Tim that several top 20 players are now competing in that tournament, he made it very clear that Isner was to have NO problem defending his title.  It was very, very cute.  I definitely backed off at that point and went and got myself a beer, to which Tim replied, “oh could you get me one as well?”  LOL!  To  which I replied, of course, “Regular or lite?”  No, I really didn’t say that; I just said that they all had to go out and play Team Tennis with Patrick McEnroe so it probably wasn’t a good idea. 

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The Australian Open Wildcard semis were nothing short of spectacular today.  The women’s matches were both over in straight sets with CoCo Vandeweghe defeating Beatrice Capra and Lauren Davis defeating Krista Hardebeck.  I watched more of Coco’s match than Davis’ and I’ll tell you what… that Coco is full of fire and spunk no doubt.  And boy is she tall!  She has a tremendous amount of power and Capra did not know how to retaliate against Vandeweghe’s weapons.  Should be a great final between Coco and Lauren Davis starting at 1 p.m. on Sunday.

Now on to those fiery men who all brought their goods today for sure.  Jack Sock was unstoppable to say the very least and in such impressive form.  Even after rolling his ankle he managed to close it out in straights against Kudla, and Denis was not playing badly by any means.  I think that just says a lot about Sock; he has the talent, the spirit and the passion to become an elite player.  Mentally he is so stable.  And his touch at the net… beautiful.  He reminds me of someone so much older than an 18 year-old.  So sweet and humble.  One just hopes that he stays that way.

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