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2009 Year in Review: USTA Pro Circuit

Michael Russell won a Circuit-best four singles titles in 2009
Melanie Oudin won back-to-back titles at two $50,000 events
Taylor Dent compiled a 17-6 record in Challenger play

By Sally Milano, USTA.com

The USTA Pro Circuit celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2009, and now that the season has come to a close, it’s a good time to reflect back on the last 12 months and what an exceptional year it has been. From breakthrough performances from rising stars like Melanie Oudin, who captured two Circuit titles this year, to Taylor Dent battling back from a serious back injury to work his way up the rankings, the year was full of moments that were both memorable and inspiring. Let’s take a look at just some of the players who made their mark on the USTA Pro Circuit in 2009.

Women:

Sharon Fichman. The Toronto native posted her best results to date in 2009, winning four titles in seven finals on the USTA Pro Circuit. Among her results, the 19-year-old right-hander swept the singles and doubles championships at $25,000 Lutz, Fla. She also won the singles title at $25,000 Osprey, Fla., doubles titles at $50,000 Phoenix and $25,000 Rock Hill, S.C., and she reached both the singles and doubles finals at $25,000 Boca Raton, Fla. Fichman finished the year ranked No. 123 in the world in singles, a career high. In doubles, she posted a year-end rank of No. 97, just two spots above her career-best No. 95.

Laura Granville. An injury kept the Chicago native out of competition since early 2008, but she couldn't have asked for better results when she returned to action in March, winning the singles title, as a qualifier, in her first tournament back at $25,000 Redding, Calif. Granville went on to win two more titles in 2009 -- one in singles at $10,000 Landisville, Pa., and another in doubles at $50,000 Carson, Calif. She also reached doubles finals at $50,000 Kansas City, Mo., and $25,000 Jackson, Miss.

Lindsay Lee-Waters. The veteran right-hander showed her consistency once again in 2009 with another strong year that included winning two doubles titles ($50,000 Grapevine, Texas; $25,000 Osprey, Fla.) and one singles championship ($50,000 Charlottesville). Among her other results, she reached three doubles finals and one singles final and finished the year as the women's Circuit prize money leader with $30,384.

Melanie Oudin. Teen sensation Melanie Oudin went from one of America’s top junior players in 2008 to a household name in 2009, and results she posted on the USTA Pro Circuit were among the first to launch her pro career. In May, the 18-year-old from Marietta, Ga., captured consecutive titles at two $50,000 events -- Indian Harbour, Fla., and Raleigh, N.C. Just a few weeks later, she reached the Wimbledon fourth round as a qualifier, stunning Jelena Jankovic in her third-round match, and later the US Open quarterfinals, upsetting – in order – Elena Dementieva, Maria Sharapova and Nadia Petrova before falling to eventual runner-up Caroline Wozniacki. Oudin, one of the stars of the U.S. Fed Cup team this year, as well, ended 2009 with a career-high ranking of No. 48.

Shenay Perry. Perry finished 2009 with her highest year-end ranking in three years -- No. 115 -- after winning singles titles at the $75,000 events in Albuquerque, N.M., and Dothan, Ala., and reaching the semifinals at $50,000 Las Vegas. The 25-year-old from Coral Springs, Fla., also qualified into the US Open, where she advanced to the second round before falling to fellow American Varvara Lepchenko.

Valerie Tetreault. The 21-year-old right-hander from Canada won more singles titles than any other woman on the USTA Pro Circuit in 2009, taking home championships at the $50,000 events in Grapevine, Texas, and Carson, Calif., and the $25,000 tournament in El Paso, Texas. Tetreault, who also reached the final at $50,000 Kansas City, Mo., also made her Grand Slam debut at the 2009 US Open, qualifying into the main draw before falling in the first round to Slovakian Magdalena Rybarikova in three sets.

Riza Zalameda. Zalameda cracked the top 100 in the WTA year-end doubles rankings after capturing a Circuit-best five doubles titles in 2009. Finishing the year ranked 95th in doubles, the Los Angeles native and former UCLA All-American picked up all five of her titles with different partners -- $75,000 Albuquerque (with Mashona Washington), $75,000 Vancouver (with Ahsha Rolle), $50,000 Grapevine, Texas (with Lindsay Lee-Waters), $50,000 Carson, Calif. (with Laura Granville) and $50,000 Raleigh, N.C. (with Lilia Osterloh). She also reached the doubles final at $25,000 Jackson, Miss. (with Granville).

Men:

Carsten Ball. Ball had a big year on the USTA Pro Circuit, capturing five titles in nine finals. Among his results, the 6-foot-6 lefty won doubles titles at four Challengers, including Aptos, Calif., with fellow Australian Chris Guccione, as well as Savannah, Ga., Yuba City, Calif., and Winnetka, Ill., all with American Travis Rettenmaier. He also took home the singles title at the Futures event in Sacramento, Calif. Ball, a member of the 2009 Australian Davis Cup team, notched solid results on the ATP Tour, as well. He became the first qualifier at the Olympus US Open Series’ LA Tennis Open to reach the final, where he lost to Sam Querrey. He also qualified into the US Open and advanced to the second round, where he fell to Novak Djokovic. Ball, 22, reached a career-high ranking of No. 123 in May and ended the year at No. 134.

Taylor Dent. After recurring back injuries kept him sidelined for three years, Dent battled back to finish in the top 100 for the first time since 2005, and he did it with some outstanding results on the USTA Pro Circuit. The 28-year-old serve-and-volleyer compiled a 17-6 record in Challenger play, winning titles in Tulsa and Knoxville and reaching the final in Champaign-Urbana. But one of the biggest moments for the 28-year-old right-hander came just prior to these events at the US Open, where he won one of the most exciting, dramatic matches of the tournament – a 6-4, 5-7, 6-7 (1), 7-5, 7-6 (9) second-round victory over Spain’s Ivan Navarro – before falling to Andy Murray in the third round. Dent’s ranking skyrocketed 803 positions from the end of 2008 (No. 879) to the end of 2009, finishing the year ranked 76th in the world.

Ryan Harrison. Harrison, 17, from New Braunfels, Texas, was one of the country's top junior prospects for several years, and he's making his mark at the pro level, as well. Harrison had his best year to date in 2009, sweeping the singles and doubles titles at the Laguna Niguel Futures and winning the singles championship at the Chico Futures. He went on a 12-2 stretch this fall, first reaching the final of the Costa Mesa Futures, then winning at Laguna Niguel, and finally reaching the semifinals at the Sacramento Challenger. Harrison reached career-high rankings the week of Dec. 7 in both singles (No. 361) and doubles (No. 421).

Alex Kuznetsov. The 22-year-old American finished second in prize-money earnings behind Michael Russell with $32,540 after winning the singles title at the Winnetka, Ill., Challenger and finishing runner-up at the Lexington and Savannah Challengers. He also reached doubles semifinals at the Challengers in Sacramento, Yuba City, Savannah and Tallahassee.

Cory Parr. The former Wake Forest All-American won more doubles titles than any other man on the USTA Pro Circuit this year with five. After finishing his collegiate career in May as the Demon Deacons’ all-time singles and doubles wins leader, the 22-year-old lefthander picked up four consecutive doubles titles at Futures events in Rochester, N.Y., Joplin, Mo., Godfrey, Ill., and Decatur, Ill. He also captured the Austin, Texas, Futures this fall. Parr took home three of those titles – Joplin, Godfrey and Decatur – with his former Wake Forest teammate Todd Paul.

Michael Russell. The 31-year-old veteran had one of the best years of any player competing on the USTA Pro Circuit in 2009, taking home a Circuit-best four singles titles. Russell, from Houston, started the year with a win at the Brownsville, Texas, Futures in February. He then competed mostly at the Challenger level, where he won titles at the $50,000 events in Savannah, Carson and Champaign-Urbana and dropped only two sets total in those tournaments, both to Michael McClune in three close sets. Russell, who also reached the final at the Calabasas Challenger, the semifinals in Yuba City, and four quarterfinals in Sarasota, Tiburon, Charlottesville and Dallas, was the leading prize-money winner for men on the Circuit in 2009, taking home a total of $37,520. He finished 2009 ranked 83rd in the world – up 176 spots from his 2008 year-end rank of No. 259 – to become the oldest American in the year-end top 100 for the second time in three years.

Jesse Witten. The 27-year-old Naples, Fla., native won four titles in 2009, sweeping the singles and doubles championships at the Plantation, Fla., Futures and winning two other singles titles at Futures events in Harlingen, Texas, and Loomis, Calif. Witten’s other results this year include reaching the singles final at the Mobile Futures, the doubles final at the Brownsville Futures and the singles semifinals at the Sacramento Challenger. But perhaps the highlight of the year for the University of Kentucky graduate was an outstanding performance at the US Open. After winning three matches to qualify into the main draw, Witten routed No. 29 seed Igor Andreev, 6-4, 6-0, 6-2, for his first ATP win. He then defeated Maximo Gonzalez in four sets in his second-round match before falling to Novak Djokovic in the third round, 7-6 (2), 3-6, 6-7 (2), 4-6.


2010 Women's USTA Pro Circuit calendar
2010 Men's USTA Pro Circuit calendar

 
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