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U.S. Open: Beatrice Capra, the new Melanie Oudin?

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While 19th-seeded Mardy Fish posted an effective and efficient second-round U.S. Open win over Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay and second-seeded Roger Federer won so easily in his second-round match over Andreas Beck, 6-3, 6-4, 6-3, that he said, "I've been eating more than I've been playing," there was a frission of excitement on the grounds of the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center Thursday because 18-year-old Beatrice Capra, a student at the Evert Tennis Academy in Boca Raton, Fla., upset 18th-seeded Aravane Rezai of France, 7-5, 2-6, 6-3.

Capra, who is ranked 371st in the world (and, no, she is not related to famous movie director Frank Capra) and only got into the main draw because of a wild card given to her by the United States Tennis Assn., had taken down 95th-ranked Karolina Sprem of Croatia in the first round.

No one around here could help it. Capra is now the Melanie Oudin of the 2010 tournament.

Oudin was 17 last year when she beat four straight higher-ranked opponents in making what she called her "Cinderella run" to the quarterfinals. Oudin left this year's tournament beaten in the second round Wednesday night and wistfully hoping that she gets to be Cinderalla one more time before her career is over.

Capra said she watched every second of Oudin's fun last season.

Not many weeks ago Capra thought she'd just be playing the juniors here and mostly, her words, "chilling out." She had been upset in the national 18-under tournament. "I went home from that thinking I was going to take a week off," she said.

Capra had to earn her wild card spot in the U.S. Open main draw by winning a wild card playoff. Now she is in the third round and possibly facing a chance against 14th-seeded Maria Sharapova, probably on Arthur Ashe Stadium court. Sharapova plays Iveta Benesova Thursday night and, by the way, Sharapova was one of the higher-ranked players that Oudin beat last year.

"I looked up to Melanie last year," Capra said. "I watched all of her matches and was so happy for her. It was really inspiring to me because I played her a year before and then she was getting to the quarters of a Grand Slam. I think she's pushed all of the Americans to do better."

Capra, whose father was born in Monza, Italy, and whose mother was a two-time all-American when she played college tennis at the University of South Florida in Tampa, lives in Ellicott City, Md., said even with her success here she might not turn pro. "I'm going to keep college open," Capra said. "I'm looking at Duke." She may also play the junior tournament here next week. "I'm going to sign up and we'll see what happens," she said. "Yeah, I'm still signed up."

One suspects that should Capra win another round of the main draw, juniors will be out. And college? Maybe that too.

-- Diane Pucin in New York

Photo: Beatice Capra signs autographs for fans after her second-round victory on Thursday at the U.S. Open. Credit: Kathy Willens / Associated Press

 
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