With a three-set victory in the desert Wednesday evening, Rhyne Williams became the first Vol in more than a decade to reach the singles main draw of an ATP Tour event.
And what a major tournament to make a career debut.
Williams, a last-minute wild card, beat world No. 123 Jurgen Zopp of Estonia 7-6 (1), 1-6, 6-1 in the final round of qualifying to advance to the main draw of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Calif.
The former Vol held his nerve late in the match, saving four break points in the final set to earn his third career win against a top-150 opponent and the second in as many nights. He beat No. 109 Marsel Ilhan on Tuesday.
He will play world No. 86 and lucky loser Frederico Gil of Portugal in the opening round of the main draw. A win would give Williams a meeting with former Georgia Bulldog and world No. 11 John Isner.
The PNB Paribas Open is an ATP Masters Series event and one of the largest annual events in the United States with all top 10 players in the world rankings scheduled to compete. The champion wins $1 million in prize money.
The last Tennessee player to reach the main draw of an ATP World Tour event was also a Knoxville native: Chris Woodruff. The Vols current associate head coach played the 2001 U.S. Open before retiring less than a year later.
In Canada: John-Patrick Smith advanced to the second round of the Gatineau Futures in Canada, rallying to beat fellow Aussie Mark Verryth 3-6, 7-6 (5), 6-2. He faces former Texas A&M standout Jeff Dadamo next.
Smith and 2009 NCAA singles champion Devin Britton play in the doubles quarterfinals Wednesday as well.