Thursday, September 10, 2009

Oudin Adieu

Well, that's that.

I'll admit, I got a little caught up in the Melanie Oudin hoopla at the US Open. I still like tennis, even though I don't play anymore. Maybe my fascination was because of the local connection. Maybe because she's American. Maybe it was the string of improbably, come-from-behind wins. Maybe because she's cute. Maybe all of the above.

But a 6-2, 6-2 loss in the quarterfinals to some player I've never heard of before brought it all to a crashing halt last night. The feel-good sports story of 2009, at least so far, is now history and we've got to wait to see if Oudin makes any further impact on women's tennis, or if it's just a one-season-and-done, flash-in-the-pan deal for her. I'm still hoping not, but only time will tell.

In truth, Oudin killed herself more than the other player (I think it's Wozniak or Woznacki or something) did -- I watched a bit, and she was spraying shots all over the place, long and wide, losing point after point on unforced errors. It was pretty obvious from early in the match that she wasn't up to it. I'm sure fatigue had a lot to do with that.

She had her chances - a couple of break points early in the second set - but couldn't convert anything.

Now, some people are saying that Oudin got more buzz than the Williams sisters did when they first got on the scene, and that's because Oudin is white while the Williamses are black. I'm not really sure that Oudin got more buzz to begin with, because I don't really remember how much buzz greeted the Williamses - I recall it was a lot, but how do you measure such an entirely subjective thing?

Now, if Oudin did receive more adulation than Venus and Serena, that may be at least partially due to race. I can't deny the possibility, since Barack Obama's election has done nothing if not make the lingering racial issues in the US even more obvious.

But I prefer to think that if there really was any disparity in coverage, it was more due to the fact that Venus and Serena's father Richard is an wacko asshole--admittedly, one with some vision, but a wacko asshole nonetheless--and that Serena is a charter member of the Sore Loser Hall of Fame, but that's just me.

Then again, we just learned that Oudin's father is divorcing her mother because of her mother's affair with Melanie's tennis coach, so it isn't like everything is all cheery and proper and tidy in that family circle.

And there's the fact that even though she's only 17, Oudin oughta know better--and be coached better--than to get excited over her opponent's mistakes. It's obviously no formal violation of etiquette, but it's still really poor sportsmanship. If you hit an incredible winner, it's fine to get pumped up. But if you only get the point because your opponent hit the shot long or wide or into the net, that's no cause for celebration. You take the point and move on.

Same goes for the crowd, too. Cheering a double fault? That was embarrassing.

Well, anyway. That'll about cover tennis for a few months.

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