Youth on display at Music City Tennis Challenge

Thursday, December 3, 2009 at 11:51pm

An 18-year-old, a 22-year-old and a 24-year-old. That's the lineup for this Saturday’s Music City Tennis Challenge at Belmont’s Curb Events Center — a young lineup.

And that’s exactly what Trevor Short had in mind.

“This is the future of American tennis that people are getting to see,” said Short, the event’s director and president of T&S Events. “It is great for promoting the game of tennis.”

If it is indeed the future of American tennis, this crew has already set the bar high for their peers.

The youngest of the five-person group, which started a four-day tour Wednesday that featured stops in Pelham, Ala., Chattanooga and Atlanta, is Melanie Oudin. Just 18, Oudin burst onto the international scene earlier this year when she reached the fourth round at Wimbledon. The Marietta, Ga. native then stayed hot at the U.S. Open, where she reached the quarterfinals.

“She stole the show at the U.S. Open. I think she was the biggest story of the entire U.S. Open,” Short said. “She is awesome, awesome for this event.”

Filling in for injured Mardy Fish will be Sam Querrey, the No. 2-ranked American tennis player. The 22-year-old will face University of Georgia alum John Isner. The 24-year-old, who helped the Bulldogs to a national championship in 2007, is ranked third in America and 34th in the world.

After Querrey and Isner battle in singles play Saturday, they will face the top-ranked doubles team in the world. Twin brothers Bob and Mike Bryan, the oldest of the bunch at 31, have won 54 doubles titles together, including seven Grand Slam championships.

“They are a no-brainer,” Short said of having them in the lineup. “In my opinion, they are the greatest doubles team of all time… And they are so good with the crowd.”

That is what Short is hoping for too — a fun night.

A portion of the proceeds will go to the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt and Short said the event will have a laid-back atmosphere to it.

“The great thing about our event is that, one, you get to see competitive tennis. But, too, you get the entertainment value. It’s almost like a concert/tennis match,” Short said. “Tennis is always sort of thought of dressed in white, be quiet. The cool thing about these events is that you can get out there, you can yell, you can scream.”

At the same time, however, Short said this group will not take it easy.

“All these guys are professional athletes and they all have a real competitive drive,” he said. “These guys don’t want to lose.”

It also will be a homecoming of sorts for Short when the tour wraps up Saturday at Belmont. The Murfreesboro native played at Middle Tennessee State University earlier in the decade for his father Dale Short, who coached the Blue Raiders for 21 years.

“It will be very nice to be coming home,” Short said. “I’ve got a lot of friends, family, supporters of mine that will be there. I’m excited it is the last night of our road trip. I’ll really get to enjoy myself in Nashville.”

The event will start at 6:30 p.m., with the doors opening at 5:30. A a players’ party from 5-7 p.m. is also planned. To purchase tickets or for more information, click here.