Aug 26, 2013
The final tennis Grand Slam of the year begins today as the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center opens its doors for the start of the U.S. Open in Flushing, N.Y.
To celebrate the start of America's major, here are some Tennessee facts about the U.S. Open:
1. WILLIAMS STARTS MONDAYOne year ago, Rhyne Williams made his main draw debut at the U.S. Open after playing his way through qualifying.
His first-round match was a memorable one for certain, as he squared off against American great Andy Roddick on Arthur Ashe Stadium. Williams lost in three sets as Roddick set off on what would be his final tournament as a professional tennis player.
Now a year later, Williams is back in the main draw thanks to a wild card. He is ranked No. 115 in the world, one place shy of his career-best rank. He's had the best year of his career thus far, winning his first Challenger-level singles title in Dallas and following that up later in the spring with a semifinal showing at the U.S. National Men's Clay Court Championships in Houston, an ATP 250 tournament.
Williams has started to become something of a regular at Grand Slams. He's appeared in the main draw of four of the last five majors. He's yet to record his first win on tennis' greatest stage, but he's come awfully close. He held match points against German Florian Mayer at the Australian Open before losing in five sets.
Instead of being on the premiere court to start the U.S. Open, this year Williams will start the U.S. Open out on court 7 against Russian Nikolay Davydenko. The match is scheduled to be the second on court.
2. SMITH'S WINNING STREAKJohn-Patrick Smith is rolling into the U.S. Open on a high note as he prepares for his doubles debut in New York.
On Sunday, Smith wrapped up his first singles title of the year by winning the $15,000 Manshield Futures in Winnipeg, Canada. He defeated Croatian Ante Pavic 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 in the title match and dropped just two sets en route to the trophy. He will move back into the top 275 with the points earned, comfortably putting him in most Challenger draws.
Now Smith sets his sights on U.S. Open doubles. He's teaming up once again with Aussie doubles veteran Paul Hansley. The two nearly upset the No. 3 seeds at Wimbledon earlier this summer before falling in a five-set thriller.
Smith has appeared in the main draw of all four Grand Slams this year and picked up opening-round wins at the Australian Open and Wimbledon. He is currently ranked No. 72 in the world rankings.
Doubles will start later this week. Smith and Hanley drew Fabio Fognini and Albert Ramos in the opening round.
3. THE MIXED TITLE + TOP VOL PERFORMANCESLefty legend and former top-100 doubles professional Shelby Cannon is responsible for the Vols' only Grand Slam title in Flushing.
He and Robin White teamed up to win the 1989 U.S. Open Mixed Doubles Championship, defeating Meredith McGrath and world doubles No. 1 Rick Leach 3-6, 6-2, 7-5 in the title match.
Cannon, a three-time All-American for the Vols from 1986-88, is still well-documented in the Vols' record book with the third-most combined career victories with 268. He played No. 1 singles most of his career and formed one of Tennessee's best and most successful doubles teams with Byron Talbot. The two still hold the career record in doubles wins as a team with 102.
Three-time All-American Paul Annacone enjoyed two finalist performances during his career, once in men's doubles and once in mixed. He will be on site this week serving as Roger Federer's coach, as he has the last few seasons.
In a three-year span from 1985-87, Mike DePalmer Jr. reached a doubles semifinal and two quarterfinals.