May 26, 2010
ATHENS, Ga. -- Tennessee freshman Rhyne Williams won his 16th consecutive match and took out the second seed in the NCAA singles tournament in the process Wednesday evening.
One night removed from the Vols' 4-2 NCAA title loss to Southern California, Williams defeated USC's Steve Johnson 6-4, 6-3 in the first round at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex.
Junior Boris Conkic, one of three Vols in the singles draw, also won his first match of the tournament by beating Virginia Tech's Yoann Re 6-3, 1-6, 6-0 in the last contest at the facility Wednesday night.
Fellow junior and third-seeded John-Patrick Smith did not get going early and fell quickly 6-1, 6-1 to Louisville's Austen Childs to end his singles season. He will play doubles with Davey Sandgren as the No. 2 seed in the draw, which begins Thursday.
Williams picked up a break late to take the first set 6-4 against Johnson, who won his match on court 2 against Conkic in the championship match Tuesday. Williams was up a break and receiving in the second set when Johnson double faulted to end the match.
From here, Williams has reasonably good path to make a deep run in the tournament. He faces Marcelo Arevalo of Tulsa in the round of 32 Thursday at 1 p.m.
"Now I feel like I have a good shot to win a few more matches, and that would be nice," Williams said. "That's my goal."
Williams improved to 40-6 his season and is just three wins shy of the freshman record for wins in a season, set by Peter Handoyo in 1999. His 16-match winning is the longest by a UT player this year. Matteo Fago had a 16-match winning streak last season.
Conkic tied his season-high for victories by defeating Re for his 29th singles win of the season. His match was the last to start at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex, and by the time the third set rolled around, he and Re were the only ones left playing.
Conkic gave the remaining Volunteer fans and lingering Georgia workers a quick show in the third set, blanking Re 6-0 to advance to the round of 32. He faces Bradley Klahn of Stanford at 12:30 p.m.
NCAA Tennis Championships
Round of 64
Rhyne Williams, UT, def. Steve Johnson (2), USC, 6-4, 6-3
Boris Conkic, UT, def. Yoann Re, Virginia Tech, 6-4, 1-6, 6-0
Austen Childs, Louisville, def. John-Patrick Smith (3), UT, 6-1, 6-1
Round of 32
D. Sandgren/Smith (2), UT, vs. Juneau/Vidal, William & Mary, 5:30 p.m.
Conkic/Williams, UT vs. Klahn/Thacher, Stanford, 6:30 p.m.