Remember Melanie Oudin, the teenager from Georgia who shocked the tennis world with an improbable run to the quarterfinals at the 2009 U.S. Open?
Now 20 and struggling to recapture her 2009 form, Oudin is optimistic she can become relevant again. She is one of the bigger names competing in the Lexus of Las Vegas Open, which begins today at Red Rock Country Club.
"I haven’t had the best year, but I’m trying to stay positive," Oudin said. "I don’t think there’s any one specific thing. I’m hitting the ball well in practice. I think it’s more about having confidence in my shots and going for it when the opportunities are there."
Though she is 141st in the WTA Tour singles rankings, down from a high of No. 31 only 17 months ago, Oudin arrives in Las Vegas with renewed confidence.
She teamed with Jack Sock to win the U.S. Open mixed doubles title on Sept. 9. Then on Sunday, Oudin and Grace Min played in the doubles final at the Coleman Vision Championships in Albuquerque, N.M., losing to Las Vegas’ Asia Muhammad and Alexa Glatch. Muhammad also is in the field at Red Rock, having been given a wild-card entry into the singles draw.
"It’s been great," Oudin said of her doubles success. "Hopefully, it translates to playing well in singles."
Oudin admits to being overwhelmed by all of the attention she received two years ago at Flushing Meadows.
"There were positive and negative things about it," she said. "I was playing really well, and that was the biggest positive; having the crowd behind me, it was awesome. But everyone knew everything about me and, suddenly, I was expected to win every time. That put a lot of pressure on me.
"At the Open, I kind of came out of nowhere and here I am winning all these matches and making it to the quarters."
Oudin was unable to meet the lofty expectations. She failed to advance out of the first round in 12 tournaments in 2010. She exited in the first round in each of this year’s majors in singles.
■ NOTES — Varvara Lepchenko of Russia is back to defend her title. She is ranked No. 109 in singles. … Las Vegas 14-year-old Kimberly Yee lost in the first round of qualifying, falling to Russia’s Vasilisa Bardina, 6-3, 6-4.
Contact reporter Steve Carp at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter @stevecarprj.LEXUS OF LAS VEGAS OPEN
■ WHEN: 10 a.m. today through Sunday
■ WHERE: Red Rock Country Club, 2250 Red Springs Drive
■ PURSE: $50,000 ($7,315 to winner)
■ DEFENDING CHAMPION: Varvara Lepchenko
■ PARKING: Free
■ TICKETS: $7.50 general admission (today through Thursday); $15 (Friday), $20 (Saturday), $25 (Sunday)
■ TOURNAMENT WEBSITE: lexuslvopen.com