Georgian Makes Trip to Help Ashe Kids Day at the Open
It’s about 900 miles and 14-and-a-half hours on the road to drive from Atlanta to the Big Apple, but it was a drive worth making for tennis fan and QuickStart Tennis Pro Maria Dreaden.
The 23-year-old Atlantan has a passion for the sport. She was a collegiate tennis player, active in Atlanta’s tennis community and always looking for a way to give back to the sport that she loves. That’s why when she saw a chance to volunteer at the Arthur Ashe Kid’s Day event Dreaden jumped at it.
“I clicked on to the volunteer site for Arthur Ashe Kids Day and it just said to fill out the sheet and they would let me know about it,” said Dreaden. “I just thought it would be a great once in a lifetime opportunity so I was just hoping I would get picked.”
But as it grew closer to the tournament date, Dreaden hadn’t heard anything back from the USTA and she started to worry that she wouldn’t be selected to volunteer for the special day of events. Dreaden then wrote back to the person in charge of selecting the volunteers.
“I said I’m the director of QuickStart at RCS [Racquet Club of the South],” shared Dreaden. “I was just persistent and said I really wanted to do what I could to be involved and I love working with kids so I thought I could be a big help on Kid’s Day. I guess my persistence paid off.”
The weather, however, refused to cooperate on Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day, at least for the kids on court activities Dreaden had volunteered to help with. In spite of the rain the Atlantan stayed upbeat about it all. She did what she could to help as activities shifted indoors to the Smash Zone. There kids could see how fast they could serve, play a new version of a Wii Grand Slam Tennis game and take part in other interactive games.
“I’m glad I got to see the kids having a great time. I wasn’t feeling yucky even though the weather was because the kids still got to have fun and it was such a great experience to see that and be part of such a special event. I loved it.”
Junior ProAm Benefits Special Children’s Charity
Radio personality Yvonne Monet, of DaveFM, teamed up with Ansley Tennis for a very special Junior Pro Am.
Monet, who combined her passion of tennis and music to start RocknTennis.com, helped bring the event benefiting Camp Sunshine to life. More than a dozen junior players were paired with pros for the event. There was also an auction for various prizes including concert tickets and a Chateau Elan wine tasting. More than $15,000 was raised with the proceeds going to support Camp Sunshine’s year-round operations.
Monet hopes the Junior Pro Am at Ansley will not only continue to help raise awareness, but also become an annual event.
“It was just a great time had by all and for such a great cause,” said Monet. “I’m really proud that we could have an event like this that kids could participate in and have fun to help and support other children.”
Camp Sunshine offers special programs to children with cancer and their families. Home for many of Camp Sunshine’s recreational programs is Camp Twin Lakes, located near Rutledge, Ga. All Camp Sunshine programs work to spread love, support, fun and hope for children with cancer.
For more information on how you can support Camp Sunshine go to mycampsunshine.com and to learn about upcoming events with Monet go to rockandtennis.com.
Flex League Minus the Travel
Registration for the popular USTA Flex League is underway and there’s a big change aimed at reducing travel for participants for the winter ‘09 Season.
“We’ve had so much positive feedback about this league,” said Jessica Paul, USTA Atlanta Program Director. “We just wanted to make some small adjustments to keep it fun for everyone.”
Starting this season the league will be facility based. That means participants will choose from a list of more than 15 official USTA Flex League sites. All matches for the season, whether they are considered home or away, will be played at the selected site. Players will still arrange their weekly match play, but won’t have to travel anywhere except their designated site to play.
“USTA Atlanta and participating facilities are very excited to try out this new facility based format,” Paul added. “It alleviates the problem of long drive times in such a big community like Atlanta, and we are looking forward to a great new winter season!”
RC of the South Rallies Behind Melanie’s USO Run
Marietta’s Melanie Oudin caught the tennis world by storm with her gritty, Cinderella story U.S. Open run. She made the tennis world — just like her shoes said — “Believe” that dreams do come true.
“Coming into the tournament, I hadn’t done well last year, so believing was my key thing going into these matches, and knowing that I could compete with these women and beat them,” casino online Oudin said. “Now I realize that — I got to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open, so I know that hopefully I can do it again and again.”
The word “Believe” inspired many stories, much discussion and even the T-shirts worn by supporters in Oudin’s Players Box on the night of her match against No. 9 seed Caroline Wozniacki.
“I tell kids every time you enter a tournament you have to believe you can win the silly thing or else why play it,” said Oudin’s coach Brian de Villiers.
Everywhere on the grounds of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center fans were talking about “that 17-year-old from Georgia” and Oudin’s performance intrigued fans around the world. She became a fresh face for tennis and a wonderful story of one teenager living out her dream that transcended the sport.
“She’s a true fighter on mobile casino court,” said the USTA’s Tim Curry. “I also think she’s so open and honest and excited in her post match interviews that everybody can just see that here’s this teenage girl that’s living her dream and everybody’s along for the ride.”
Nowhere did fans “Believe” more than at Oudin’s home club, Racquet Club of the South, in Norcross. Members, friends and Oudin’s tennis family gathered together to cheer on their girl; the 17-year-old who addresses her elders with respect, still takes time to help clean the courts and hits with other juniors in her academy.
“I hate to keep using the word incredible, but it just really is incredible,” said Anne Keeton of RCS. “She’s given us this wonderful gift to share and the whole club is behind her, it’s wonderful.”
TV crews and journalists showed up for the viewing parties to watch Oudin play. Her tenacious play and exuberant personality made fans around the world t rally behind her, but the new fan favorite at the U.S. Open was already a favorite with the folks of RCS.
“We all expected her to do well and yet to go to the quarterfinals at the age of 17 is phenomenal,” added Keeton. “I think for anyone to be in the presence of someone living their dream like Melanie is makes us all realize dreams can happen anywhere.”
Nearly two hundred people gathered to watch the 17-year-old’s match against Wozniacki, two years her senior. The results did not go as many had hoped, but Oudin herself has learned from it all.
“I wanted to win. Losing isn’t good enough for me,” Oudin said after her quarterfinals loss. “But, you know, the whole experience here that I’ve had is going to take me a long way, I think. Just I’m going to remember this for a long time. I’ve gained a lot of confidence through this tournament and I think I can only get better.”
Oudin was gracious with her fans, thanking them all for their support, but she took time for a special thank-you to her hometown crowd. “I want to thank you all so, so much for supporting me. I really appreciated it and I hope you keep supporting me in all my other tournaments and definitely here again next year.”
Isner, Fish, Bryan Bros. Join Infinite Energy Lineup
Fresh off his thrilling five-set upset of pal Andy Roddick at the U.S. Open, John Isner will be joined by Mardy Fish and U.S. Open doubles semifinalists the Bryan Bros. at the Infinite Energy Atlanta Challenge on Fri., Dec. 4 (7 p.m.) at the Racquet Club of the South.
The star-studded exo is only part of what promises to be four days of exciting tennis action. On Sat.-Mon., Dec. 5-7, RCS will also host the USTA Australian Open Wildcard Playoffs, featuring eight of the top American men and women, who wil battle it out for main-draw entry into the 2010 Aussie Open.
Call (800) 514-3849 for ticket info or visit tandsevents.com. Proceeds benefit the National Tennis Foundation.
Tech’s Falconi Makes USO Appearance
All-American Irina Falconi made a brief appearance at the U.S. Open. The Georgia Tech sophomore earned a wild card form the USTA to compete in the women’s qualifying draw at the U.S. Open in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.
“I’ve dreamed of playing in the U.S. Open since I was a little girl,” Falconi said when she learned of getting the wildcard.
The native of Jupiter, Fla. was defeated in the first round by fellow Floridian Lauren Embree 6-4, 6-1 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Falconi was tied 4-4 in the first set, but then struggled to hold serve. She won her first service game of the second set before Embree took over and won the second set 6-1. Falconi would have needed to win three matches to advance to the main draw of the U.S. Open.
Embree, a University of Florida Freshman, and Falconi were the only two female college players to participate in the U.S. Open, the final Grand Slam of the year.
Earlier this summer Falconi earned two USTA Pro Circuit singles titles and was recently featured in Sports Illustrated’s Faces In The Crowd. Falconi joins Amanda McDowell (‘08) and Kristi Miller (‘05) as the only Yellow Jackets to participate in the U.S. Open.
The Georgia Tech women’s team kicks off its ‘09 Fall Season at home with the Georgia Tech Invitational Sept. 18-20.
Community Outreach Tied to Sampras Event
USTA Atlanta is reaching out to the community in connection with the inaugural Live United Tennis Classic featuring Pete Sampras and Todd Martin.
The exhibition match featuring the tennis greats takes place at the Atlanta Athletic Club on Nov. 7 and benefits United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta. All five events give tennis fans a chance to play their way into a chance to play on the same tennis court the American tennis legends will play on.
“We didn’t want to have just a one day tennis exhibition,” said USTA Atlanta executive director Matt Olson. “We wanted to involve the community and make it something that everybody feels like they can really be a part of.“
Roswell Park, Newtowne Park in Johns Creek, Harrison Tennis Center, Lost Mountain Tennis Center and Atlanta Athletic Club will each host one of the five events leading up to the Nov. 7 exhibition. Each of the sites will host a mixed doubles round robin, a parent/child round robin and a kids QuickStart tennis competition. Winners will be awarded trophies and tickets to the Live United Tennis Classic. In addition, winners will get a chance to compete in a similar event at Atlanta Athletic Club before the Sampras/Martin match.
“We really wanted to build a community connection with these events,” Olson added. “It’s literally about community engagement, getting out into the community and connecting with the mission of providing and growing tennis and educational programs.”
The five community events are open to participants of all ages and abilities. Proceeds will go to support tennis and educational after school programs run by United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta, USTA Atlanta and their Atlanta Youth Tennis Foundation.
For additional information on how to participate in one of the five events go to USTAAtlanta.com. To purchase tickets to see the ‘09 Live United Tennis Classic go to etix.com.