17-Year-Old Melanie Oudin Rocks The U.S. Open

Rooting for underdogs is fun. Especially when they’re 17, from Georgia, and count playing cards with grandma as one of their #1 favorite activities. Melanie Oudin started at the U.S. Open ranked 70th, a youngin’ who was not expected to make it very far. She won her first match against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova fairly easily. But in her second match, she found herself across the net from Elena Dementieva, ranked number four in the world. Melanie lost the first set and everyone thought she was toast. But then she somehow managed to come from behind for the win. Next, she took down tennis legend Maria Sharapova, and then Nadia Petrova, both in come-from-behind wins. Now Oudin is the youngest tennis player to make it to the Open’s quarterfinals since Serena Williams in 1999.

So how is Oudin creaming players who are bigger than her and have, oh, 90 times her tournament-playing experience? “It’s kind of hard to explain how I’ve done it,” she told ESPN. “It’s, like, now I know that I do belong here. I can compete with these girls, no matter who I’m playing. I have a chance against anyone.”

Hopefully, becoming an overnight phenomenon won’t have an effect on her play. Word has it that endorsement deals are already rolling in and that she can barely make it through her hotel lobby without being mobbed. Next up, Oudin will take on Caroline Wozniacki. And it will be a tough game— Wozniacki is ranked 9th in the tournament and leads the tour in the pure number of wins this year.

Goooooo, Melanie! [ESPN]