Ranked as high as No. 2 in Juniors, she turned pro in February 2008. Her breakout performance came a year later in Surprise, Arizona, in the first round of Fed Cup against Argentina. She kept the US alive, prevailing in a must-win fourth rubber over Betina Jozami 2-6 6-1 6-2. (Notice she lost the first set.) She solidified her place as America’s next-big (little)-thing when she took down Jelena Jankovic in the third round of Wimbledon. At the US Open, she’s now beaten four Russians – three of them seeded – to enter her first ever Major quarterfinal.
I’m talking about Melanie Oudin – you’ve heard of her, right?
Yeah, I’m kidding. Melanie Mania is starting to rival Wimbledon’s Murray Mania as a national tennis obsession. Fighting photographers, stories on NPR, gossip in the New York Post – this girl’s become a full-fledged media sensation in the space of a week. We might as well enjoy it while we can. She has a really tough match tonight against a more accomplished teen grinder, Caroline Wozniacki.
Here are a few more plot points in the Melanie Oudin Legend:
- Oudin was born on September 23, 1991 in Marietta, Georgia.
- Melanie’s family includes her parents, John and Leslie, her fraternal twin sister, Katherine, and a younger sister, Christina.
- She trains with coach Brian de Villiers, who runs the Racquet Club of the South in Norcross, GA. She was introduced to de Villiers at the age of 9 by her grandmother Joan Robertson, a tennis enthusiast who got Melanie started in the game.
- At age 12, Melanie decided to be home schooled so she could concentrate on her tennis. Her fraternal twin sister Katherine is a senior at Walker School, a private school in Marietta, where she plays first singles for the girls’ tennis team. (Click here for Katherine’s blog post at the NYTimes.)
Now onto the boyfriend! And really, he is just a boy:
AP Photo/Amy Sancetta
Oudin’s beau, Austin Smith, is a ranked junior player who also trains with Melanie’s coach Brian de Villiers. He’s the author of Melanie’s now-famous “Believe” sneakers:
AP Photo/Kathy Willens
(Tennis.com reports that these technicolor tennies are selling like hotcakces since Melanie’s appeared in Arthur Ashe stadium – proof that Melanie Mania really has set in!)
Here’s the refreshingly G-rated scoop on Melstin (the piece was titled “Ou Can Believe in her Love”):
He’s Melanie Oudin’s love, 15.
Though her long hours of tennis training leave little time for courtship, the 17-year-old Georgia phenom competing in today’s US Open quarterfinals has been going steady — with a younger boy. . .
News of her romance with Smith was as surprising to many back home as Oudin’s improbable dispatching of powerhouse Russians Maria Sharapova and Nadia Petrova.
“No one knew they were a couple,” another player at the club told The Post. “Everyone thought they were just friends.”
Roger Anderson, a trainer who works with several players at the Open, said if the two are playing mixed doubles, it appears to be the G-rated variety.
“It’s certainly not an adult relationship,” said Anderson, who has seen the pair lunching each day in Flushing Meadows. “They don’t hold hands or anything like that.”
Many of Oudin’s friends were surprised she’d be dating a younger guy.
“But I guess once you are in the US Open you can date whoever you want to and nobody gets to ask questions,” pal Chelsea Goodly said.
Actually, a whole lot of people are starting to ask Melanie Oudin a whole lot of questions! Here’s one interview:
This CNN interview came out before the Open, but it includes some great stuff from Melanie’s coach:
Okay, so we covered the shoes and the boyfriend. . .oh yeah, the hotel room! Here’s the scoop from ESPN:
Oudin, the 17-year-old surprise who faces No. 9 Caroline Wozniacki in a match Wednesday night at Arthur Ashe Stadium (7 p.m. ET, ESPN2), was reportedly forced to leave her room at the Marriott in Manhattan on Sunday because her reservation ran out.
Her management company quickly got her a room at the Intercontinental Hotel, according to the SportsBusiness Journal.
“Obviously, we will not be sending any of our players back to that hotel [the Marriott],” Oudin’s agent, BEST Tennis president John Tobias, told the SportsBusiness Journal.
The Marriott, through a spokesman, would not confirm if Oudin had stayed at one of its hotels.
Whoops! I guess Melanie Mania hadn’t reached the Marriott.