U.S. Open Spotlight: Meet Shenay Perry

By Richard Kent
Updated: August 23, 2008

CONNECTICUT — One of the biggest surprises at the qualifiers at the U.S. Open this week was Shenay Perry. The 24-year-old native from Washington, D.C. has had a miserable year and little was expected of her in the qualifiers.

Instead, she won three matches in three days without dropping a set. The fan favorite clinched her position in the main draw with a 6-4, 7-6 win over seeded Olga Savchuk of the Ukraine.

Perry served well and hit excellent ground strokes in the win in perfect weather. Perhaps the person least surprised with the win was Perry, whose father is also one of her coaches.

Shenay, who stands 5-feet-7, will play Jie Zheng of China early next week probably on an outside court. She appears to shine in Grand Slam events. The former 40th-ranked player in the world was the last American to be eliminated at Wimbledon in 2006, making it to the quarters.

Perry is a Nike player and has won $666,164 in her career. She has an excellent 10-15 record in Grand Slam events over her career and has been best at the French Open even though she is adept on all surfaces.

Perry has won some big doubles events in her career but will only be playing singles at this year’s Open. She did not earn a wild card into the main draw because she has not had a great year.

For Perry, this is a very important Open. She has in the past been touted as a top American, but has really yet to realize her potential. She looked probably more comfortable in the qualifiers than she has all season in which her prize money has really dropped off.

Interest in this year’s Open is probably higher than in most past years. More tickets have been sold in advance than ever before. People anticipate a Federer-Nadal final for the first time ever in New York. The Williams sisters are at the top of their games.

Also, James Blake has been playing as well as he has all season.

Don’t count out Perry. She is not Venus or Serena but she can play and the crowd is behind her. Very much so. Upsets have been very prevalent in the early rounds in the majors this year and she can win a match or so.