Nov. 5, 2010
FLUSHING, N.Y. -- Sophomore Rhyne Williams earned two more victories Friday to advance to the semifinals of the USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships.
Williams quickly defeated Reid Carleton of Duke 6-1,6-3 in the round of 16 in the early afternoon at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. He had to fight for a 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 evening victory over Sacramento State's Kiryl Harbatsuik in the quarterfinals.
Williams, a Knoxville native, plays Florida's Alexandre Lacroix in the semifinals Saturday at noon. A live blog will be available on UTSports.com for all the Vols' matches.
"He showed a lot of character today," associate head coach Chris Woodruff said. "We've had some trouble in the past playing two matches in one day, and we've had trouble keeping our focus.
"He's clearly playing at a really high level right now, and I know he's looking forward to the opportunity tomorrow."
Senior John-Patrick Smith, a semifinalist last season, marched on to the consolation quarterfinals with a 6-2, 7-6 (2) victory over Fresno Pacific's Kirill Sinitsyn. With the win, Smith improved to 11-5 this fall.
He faces Virginia's Drew Courtney on Saturday at 11 a.m. The consolation semifinals are scheduled for later in the day.
Williams started the afternoon by avenging a loss from earlier in the fall. He had dropped a match in straight sets to Carleton at the UVa Ranked Plus One Invitational in late September.
In the round of 16 Friday, however, Williams took the lead early and never looked back. With well-placed and strong forehands, he broke Carleton's serve three times to take the first set 6-1. He then won the second set 6-3.
The evening match proved more difficult. Harbatsuik, who entered the tournament ranked 75th nationally, had already claimed two major wins in the draw. He upset fourth-ranked Guillermo Gomez of Georgia Tech and 20th-ranked Ryan Lipman of Vanderbilt to reach the quarterfinals.
Williams picked up a break midway through the first set to win 6-4. In the second set, he lost his serve and fell behind 0-3, eventually losing the set 2-6. After both players held serve to start the third set, Williams broke Harbatsuik at 1-1 and held the lead for the rest of the set. He broke Harbatsuik again at the end to win the set 6-3 and advance to the semifinals.
"I was proud of the way he hung in there in that third set and showed emotion at the right time," Woodruff said.
Williams improved his record to 11-3 this season. Six of those wins have come against nationally ranked opponents. Lacroix is ranked ninth nationally and defeated Williams in three sets at the ITA All-American Championships.
Two Vols have won singles titles at the Intercollegiate Indoors, but it has been 26 years since the last Tennessee champion. Mel Purcell won in 1980, and Paul Annacone captured the title in 1984.
USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships
Main Draw Singles
Round of 16
Rhyne Williams, UT, def. Reid Carleton, Duke, 6-1, 6-3
Rhyne Williams, UT, def. Kiryl Harbatsuik, Sacramento State, 6-4, 2-6, 6-3
Round of 16
John-Patrick Smith, UT, def. Kirill Sinitsyn, Fresno Pacific, 6-2, 7-6 (2)
Main Draw Singles
Rhyne Williams, UT, vs. Alexandre Lacroix, Florida
John-Patrick Smith, UT, vs. Drew Courtney, Virginia, 11 a.m.