It was sad to see Melanie Oudin lose today in the US Open quarter-finals, but as much as it's the end of her story in this tournament, it's only the beginning for her career. I wish Pam Shriver wouldn't have interviewed her out there after losing, but she seemed to handle it well. Alec Baldwin actually had the best quote during the match, indicating that at least now she can realize that she belongs there.
At 17, she's the age of most of the kids that I've coached. Tonight aside, where frankly I think the match was hers to win or lose, her attitude and focus are generally way, way above her age. She's every coach's dream in terms of her ability to stay positive and hungry for the next big thing.
In volleyball, I've encountered two players who were prodigies. While neither was very tall, they both had great potential to play in college. The better one (as a junior in high school, anyway) ended up not doing anything with her gifts, was combative toward coaches, and thought she was better than everyone else. Her behavior was reinforced by her sister and she was self-destructive in the relationships with everyone else in the game. As much as I liked her, it bummed me out that things ended up that way.
The other one went on to play in college, got better every year after two seasons with me, and to this day is a well-rounded and awesome person. She endured suboptimal teams and coaches. She never stopped working to be better. All other things being equal, it was the attitude that made a difference over ability.
When you see Oudin in interviews, hear the commentary, the chats with her coach and family, I can only believe that this kid is the one with the attitude that will take her far. And it's refreshing to see someone play and get ridiculously and genuinely excited when they win. Some of the pros don't have that fire when they win anymore.
I can't wait until next year to see her play some more. I think she's exactly what tennis, especially in the US, needs.