Smith Starts Australian Open Playoffs Tonight

Former SEC Athlete of the Year John-Patrick Smith will compete for a wild card in his home Grand Slam starting today in the Australian Open Playoff at Melbourne Park.

Smith is seeded second of 16 Australian players competing for a main draw wild card into January's Australian Open. He faces 17-year-old Jay Andrijic on Monday at 10 a.m. to open the tournament. In Knoxville time (U.S. Eastern), the match starts Sunday at 6 p.m. Eastern and will be streamed live by Tennis Australia for free here: Live Streaming

Since finishing his college career with the Vols in 2011, Smith has spent a majority of his professional career still based out of Knoxville and is the official touring pro of the Knoxville Racquet Club. As the sixth-ranked Australian, his return Down Under makes headlines. He was featured in today's story by the Sydney Morning Herald.

Smith has played in this tournament the last two years, reaching the quarterfinals last season. This time around, the tournament format for the men this time will be a best-of-5-set format in every round.

Starting Friday, the USTA will host its Australian Open Wild Card Playoff, and former Vols Rhyne Williams and Tennys Sandgren both in the 8-man field. Williams has made the semifinals of that tournament the last two years, and it will be Sandgren's first appearance in the tournament in Norcross, Ga. Full match coverage, photos and video of that tournament will be available at 

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