July 3, 2011
Hot temperatures on the Florida clay hardly slowed down Tennessee's Rhyne Williams this week as he dropped only one set on his way to his second career singles title on the Futures circuit.
Williams fought through cramping in the final set of the championship match Sunday to complete a 4-6, 6-2, 7-5 comeback victory against Mississippi State's top player Artem Ilyushin at the PressEx Print Open in Innisbrook, Fla.
"It was extremely hot this week, so every match was a battle," Williams said. "You'd be dripping sweat after playing the first game out there. I'm glad I was able to rely on my fitness to get me through those matches, especially today."
Former All-American Vols John-Patrick Smith and Ben Rogers took the doubles title on Friday as Tennessee made a clean sweep of both tournament trophies in Innisbrook.
The victory was a long time coming for Williams, who snapped his four-year draught between Futures singles titles. The Knoxville native made an impressive run to the championship on clay as a 16-year-old at the Pittsburgh Futures but had been empty handed in his pro tournament appearances ever since.
Williams came close to that elusive second title multiple times. Last summer, he reached the finals again at Pittsburgh and also played his way into the semifinals in Peoria, Ill. In the meantime, he picked up his first doubles trophy in Pittsburgh last year with fellow UT rising junior Tennys Sandgren.
"I had a chance to win a couple tournaments last year, but it's definitely a good feeling to finally win again," said Williams, currently ranked No. 767 in the world. "Winning makes you really confident. Now I hope to stay focused on my game through the rest of the summer."
Williams does not have long to rest before hitting the road again for a cross-country trip. He is scheduled to play in the singles qualifying at the Comerica Bank Challenger in Aptos, Calif., beginning Saturday.
PressEx Print Open Innisbrook, Fla. Singles Main Draw Round of 32:  Rhyne Williams (USA) def. Morgan Mays (USA), 6-0, 6-4
Round of 16: Williams def. Austin Smith (USA), 7-5, 6-2
Quarterfinals: Williams def. Oleg Dmitriev (RUS), 6-0, 6-3
Semifinals: Williams def.  Daniel Kosakowski (USA), 7-6 (5), 6-1
Final: Williams def. Artem Ilyushin (RUS), 4-6, 6-2, 7-5