Dec. 2, 2010
Tennessee sophomore Rhyne Williams recently received an invitation to compete in the eight-player USTA Australian Open Wild Card Playoff scheduled for later this month.
The three-day tournament features eight players and runs from Dec. 17-19 at the Racquet Club of the South in Norcross, Ga. The winner of the event earns a wild card into the main draw of the Australian Open in January 2011.
Virginia senior Michael Shabaz was also recently named to the playoff field and joins Williams as the only college players in the draw. The six remaining players, announced by the USTA nearly one month ago, are Jordan Cox, Ryan Harrison, Denis Kudla, Tim Smyczek, Jack Sock and Donald Young.
Williams, a Knoxville native, finished his fall season with a 13-3 singles record and undoubtedly saved his best tennis for last. He defeated two top 10 opponents on his way to becoming the first Vol in 26 years to capture the singles title at the USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships in Flushing, N.Y. in early November.
"He definitely earned the right to compete with the way he played in the National Indoors," Tennessee associate head coach Chris Woodruff said. "He has a chance to compete against some great players and get some good experience. And hopefully, he'll also have an opportunity to go to the Australian Open."
Williams said he learned of his invitation to the playoff via text message Wednesday. He previously played in the USTA French Open Wild Card Playoff in 2009.
"The tournament for the French Open was really cool, and I'm excited about this opportunity," Williams said. "First, I've got to finish this semester strong with exams coming up next week. Then, I'm going to see about where I'm going to practice."
With teammates soon leaving for the holidays and the Goodfriend Tennis Center under construction on campus, Williams said preparations for the wild card playoff could possibly take him to Florida, where many professionals train during the winter months.
"I'm looking to maintain my fitness and keep playing at a high level," Williams said.
USTA Australian Open Wild Card Playoff