Dec. 16, 2010
Tennessee sophomore Rhyne Williams' bid for a position in a Grand Slam main draw begins Friday at the USTA Australian Open Wild Card Playoff in Norcross, Ga.
Williams faces second-seeded Tim Smyczek, who is currently ranked No. 171 in ATP World Tour rankings. The winner of the eight-player event is given a wild card into the singles main draw of the Australian Open in January.
The men's first-round matches start at 3 p.m. at the Racquet Club of the South in Norcross. Tickets are $10 for adults, and children 18 and under are admitted for free.
Williams and the 22-year-old Smyczek have never faced each other in professional or junior competition. Smyczek made his first career main-draw appearance at a Grand Slam in September, competing in both singles and doubles. Williams is currently ranked No. 769.
Williams, a Knoxville native, earned a position in the tournament in large part by the way he finished his fall collegiate season. He became the first Vol in 26 years to capture the singles title at the USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships in Flushing, N.Y., beating defending champion Steve Johnson of Southern California in three sets in the final round. He ended the fall with a 13-3 record.
He also enjoyed success on the USTA Futures Tour during the summer as a member of the USTA Summer Collegiate Team. He was a finalist at the Pittsburgh Futures and compiled a 8-3 record in three professional events.
Williams joins Virginia's Michael Shabaz as the only two college players in the weekend draw. While this is Williams' first appearance in the Australian Open playoff, he previously competed at the USTA French Open Wild Card Playoff in 2009.
USTA Australian Open Wild Card Playoff
Racquet Club of the South
(1) Donald Young (Atlanta, Ga.) vs. Jack Sock (Lincoln, Neb.)
(2) Tim Smyczek (Hales Corners, Wis.) vs. Rhyne Williams (Knoxville)
(3) Ryan Harrison (Cortez, Fla.) vs. Michael Shabaz (Fairfax, Va.)
(4) Jordan Cox (Duluth, Ga.) vs. Denis Kudla (Arlington, Va.)