A Phenomenal Teenager

Most 17-year-olds are busy with schoolwork and their friends. They are also busy thinking about colleges, being able to drive a car and playing high school sports. One 17-year-old, though, has put herself in the national spotlight and is taking the sports world by storm. Melanie Oudin, a teenager from Georgia, has become a surprise contender at the U.S. Open.

Rookie Sensation: Many professional athletes struggle early on in their careers. Oudin is no exception. In her first major tournament of 2009, the Australian Open, she lost in the first round. Then she didn't qualify for the French Open earlier this summer. She finally enjoyed some success at Wimbledon, reaching the fourth round. Now, at the year's final major, she has reached the quarterfinals and captured the attention of tennis fans around the world. Oudin has overcome her first-year jitters to be one of the top competitors in women's tennis. In fact, she is the youngest American women's player to advance this far at the U.S. Open since Serena Williams in 1999!

Beating the Best: Not only has Oudin had to overcome the nerves that come with playing on such an important stage, she has also had to play against some pretty tough competition. She is ranked No. 70 in the world, but has beaten some players ranked much higher. In the second round she beat fourth-ranked Elena Dementieva. In the third round, she shocked Maria Sharapova, a former U.S. Open champ and one of the most popular players in the world. Oudin then beat No. 13 Nadia Petrova in the fourth round.

How She Did It: At five-foot-six, Oudin is considered a very small tennis player. But she has proved that you don't have to be tall in order to be competitive. Oudin has succeeded by staying positive and not getting overwhelmed by bigger, stronger, older and more accomplished players. Most importantly, she never gives up. She is determined to show that she is one of the best players in the sport and will work extremely hard to reach her goals.

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