Melanie Oudin has been to hell and back since reaching the quarterfinals of the 2009 US Open, but after a solid six week streak, the 20-year-old managed to earn the USTA Roland Garros wild card by grabbing the most points in two out of the last three USTA Challengers.
Oudin, who had suffered 13 first-round losses in 2011 and five straight at the start of 2012, credited USTA Player Development for much of her progress. She split with longtime coach Brian DeVillers in September and eventually moved to New York to work with USTA coaches at the USTA Training Center-East at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
"My results definitely weren't as positive as they could have been," she said But the past couple months, ever since really started training in New York with the USTA up here, starting the tournaments, the first one was Osprey, the second one was Charlottesville, I've been playing much better at the Pro Circuit 50s to get the French wild card. It was definitely a good jump for me. You work extremely hard, four hours of tennis, about two and a half hours of fitness a day. So it's definitely a lot of hard work. But also I think Jay Gooding and Jorge Todero, my coaches now, they really have gotten through to me a little bit better. They know what to say. I think the biggest thing was me believing in myself again and getting confidence again. They definitely have helped with that a lot.
The toughest thing for Oudin was actually being able to put a win on the board. While she still hasn't won a WTA, non-retirement main draw match since last April, she did show some of her former consistent self in qualifying for the Family Circle Cup. But getting that first win of 2012 was difficult.
"I think after a losing streak, the first match that you win is definitely the toughest, getting through that," she said. :After I won that first match, I won pretty handily the next one. I think that was the toughest step for me. Since then, I've been much more confident. I mean, every match I've won I've become a little bit more confident. I think that's the biggest thing. In Charlottesville [where she won the title], I was really confident in all my matches and I think that's how I ended up winning the tournament there.
While Georgia native Oudin is not quite used to living under the bright lights of NYC, the change has done her good. But switching from DeVilliers -- who had coached her most of her life - to another group wasn't easy.
"After the year I had last year, I decided that probably it would be smart to make a change," she said. "I really didn't know what I was going to do exactly. But I think I needed to make some kind of change.
It was definitely a little bit scary because Brian is the only coach I've ever really known. I'd been with him since I was nine years old. It definitely was a big change. Wasn't really sure what to expect. Then starting with the USTA in Boca Raton, it was really nice. I think it was a good change for me. It was definitely a fresh start. I felt a lot better about everything.
I think I definitely found the place I should be training at."