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TV audience rallied behind U.S. Open upstart Melanie Oudin

The 17-year-old's bid to make the semifinals was part of the most-watched tennis telecast in ESPN2's history.

September 11, 2009|DIANE PUCIN | ON SPORTS MEDIA

Melanie Oudin drew tennis fans to television.

Wednesday's ESPN2 coverage of the U.S. Open quarterfinal match between the unseeded 17-year-old from Georgia and ninth-seeded Danish teenager Caroline Wozniacki plus five-time defending champion Roger Federer's four-set win over Robin Soderling was the most-watched tennis telecast in ESPN2's history.

Oudin captivated serious and casual tennis fans with her unlikely romp through a draw in which she had to beat four higher-ranked Russians. She was openly enthusiastic, squealing with girlish delight, and then she would cry in happiness, and on Wednesday, sadness.

But after her exit from the tournament, Sports Illustrated published a story on its website detailing allegations of adultery between Oudin's coach, Brian de Villiers, and her mother, Leslie. According to the court documents reported in the story, Melanie Oudin's father, John, filed for divorce in July 2008.

Whatever turmoil her family is facing, it didn't seem to affect Oudin's performance here.

On Thursday, ESPN2 did a wrap-up of Oudin's two-week odyssey without mentioning the Sports Illustrated story. ESPN2 spokesman Dave Nagle said the network had no plans to discuss the family turmoil.

CBS, which begins its final weekend of coverage with the women's semifinals live beginning at 9:30 a.m. today, also had "no plans" to report on the story, network spokesman Gerard Caraccioli said.

Good job by both networks for leaving alone an emotional story affecting a 17-year-old.

John McEnroe, who was commenting for ESPN2 on Thursday night's men's match, said Oudin will need to get used to extra scrutiny because she did so well in New York.

"Welcome to the Open," he said. "If she'd lost in the first round no one would care about this."

USC in 3D

Besides being available at 5 p.m. on ESPN Saturday, the USC at Ohio State football game is being shown in 3D at the Galen Center (as well as in Columbus, Ohio, Hartford, Conn., and Hurst, Texas). Mark Jones and Bob Davie will call the 3D telecast, and Davie said that since he has never seen a football game broadcast in 3D, he isn't quite sure what he'll see or say.

"From the mechanical part of it, I think we'll be seeing more tight stuff, more individual things," Davie said. "So I have to be conscious of describing what people might not be seeing. The other thing is I don't think we'll use the telestrator, not replaying and circling things. We'll see how it goes."

Let Ralph Lawler in

There will be extensive coverage of the Naismith Hall of Fame induction ceremonies from Springfield, Mass., this weekend, what with that Michael Jordan guy being inducted. TNT broadcaster and former NBA coach Doug Collins will also be inducted and receive the Curt Gowdy Media Award.

It's an honor that's not undeserved for Collins. But how is it that the extraordinary voice of the Clippers, Ralph Lawler, is not in the Hall of Fame? Doug Collins gets in before Lawler? That's just not right.

On the beach in Vegas

KTLA will announce today that it will televise the AVP Crocs Tour Best of the Beach tournament from Las Vegas on Sept. 19. KTLA also broadcast the finals of the Manhattan Beach Open last July.

Jason Hodell, the chief executive of the AVP Tour, said he credited the large crowds at Manhattan Beach in part because KTLA promoted the event heavily on television.

"Television coverage is a big driver of crowds," said Hodell, who hopes that happens again. Crocs, the title sponsor of the league, is not renewing its contract after this season.

Good today

The third-ranked UCLA men's water polo team plays at Princeton on ESPNU at 3 p.m. -- a quirky sport and fun. ESPN has the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame induction at 3:30 p.m.

Good on Saturday

For USC fans who want to scout a future opponent, the Notre Dame at Michigan game is on Channel 7 at 12:30 and UCLA at Tennessee is on at 1 p.m. on ESPN.

Good on Sunday

Channel 4 will have the PGA BMW Championship with Tiger Woods beginning at 11 a.m. And the WNBA game between the Sparks and Phoenix is on at noon on ESPN2, but who are we kidding? You all will be watching the NFL. The New York Jets are at Houston on Channel 2 and Dallas is at Tampa Bay on Channel 11 at 10 a.m. (advantage CBS, Mark Sanchez debut); at 1:15 p.m. Washington is at the New York Giants on Channel 11; and at 5:15 on Channel 4, Chicago at Green Bay.


Good on Monday (bonus)

"Monday Night Football," doubleheader, beginning at 4 p.m. with Buffalo at New England to be followed at 7:15 by San Diego at Oakland.

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