It's a mixed bag for American women

Bethanie Mattek-Sands, the top-ranked American on the WTA Tour who does not have a last name of Williams, was bounced from the Family Circle Cup surprisingly early. The No. 12 seed lost a second-round match Wednesday to Russia's Anastasia Rodionova, 6-2, 6-4.

Mattek-Sands, a 24-year-old Miami resident who married since her last Family Circle Cup visit, was enjoying a No. 38 ranking.

Rodionova is No. 146.

But bubbly 17-year-old Melanie Oudin of the Atlanta suburb of Marietta thoroughly enjoyed her 7-5, 6-0 second-round upset of No. 9 seed and No. 29-ranked Aleksandra Wozniak.

"I'm so excited," said Oudin, a qualifier ranked No. 176. "I played a really, really good match from start to finish. So I was really happy with the way I played and how I kept it up."

Oudin called it one of the top two highlights of her upstart career, right up there with defeating No. 28 Sybille Bammer in Quebec.

"This is bigger than Quebec," Oudin said.

Two other Americans lost Wednesday after taking out seeded players.

Varvara Lepchenko, a native of Uzbekistan now living in Allentown, Pa., eliminated U.S. veteran Shenay Perry, 6-2, 6-3, and No. 121 Vania King was ousted by Hungary's Melinda Czink, 6-4, 6-2.

King opened Family Circle Cup play with a three-set upset of No. 14 seed Olga Govortsova. Perry started with a 7-5, 6-1 win over No. 15 seed Barbora Zahlavova Strycova.

'Hero' campaign

The WTA Tour on Wednesday completed production of its "Making of a Hero" online project of documentary films, videos and interactive games. The 16 players who participated include Family Circle Cup entries Venus Williams, Elena Dementieva, Vera Zvonareva, Caroline Wozniacki and Serena Williams.

Big Babe Brigade

A couple of years ago, talk of the "Big Babe Brigade" was all the rage on the WTA Tour, with the rise of imposing athletes such as Serena and Venus Williams.

But they've got nothing on 24-year-old Akgul Amanmuradova. The native of Uzbekistan, who beat Alexandra Stevenson in the first round Tuesday and lost to 10th-seeded Shuai Peng in three sets Wednesday, stands an eye-catching 6-3 and 163 pounds.

"She's a big girl," said Stevenson, herself a healthy 6-1 and 156 pounds. "I'm considered a big girl, and I looked petit, which I guess is always nice."

Amanmuradova, currently ranked No. 96, was ranked as high as 50th last year, when she reached two semifinals. She did not begin playing tennis until she was 10 years old, when her grandmother took her to a Tashkent tennis club to keep her busy. She didn't decide to make tennis her career until she was 18, when she was invited to join the Uzbekistan national team.

Attendance watch

The crowd for Wednesday's night match was 7,592, the largest for a Wednesday night session since the Family Circle Cup came to Charleston in 2001.

Attendance for Wednesday's day session totaled 7,523 fans, just off last year's 7,712 for the same day, but still the third-best since 2001.

That brought the total for this year's tournament to 42,800 thus far.

TV coverage

The Family Circle Cup will be televised on ESPN starting today from 1-2:30 p.m. Friday's broadcast also is set for 1-2:30 p.m. Saturday's semifinals will be on from 1-3 p.m., and the Sunday final is set for 1 p.m.

Cliff Drysdale, Mary Joe Fernandez and Pam Shriver will call the action.


Ticket packages and session tickets are available at (800) 677-2293 or online at