Former Vol tennis standout Rhyne Williams -- who was runner-up in the 2011 NCAA singles tournament, the best singles player on the excellent 2010 and 2011 Vol squads, and also my homeboy -- qualified for the main draw of this year's U.S. Open after straight-up whupping tail in the qualifying tournament. He is the first Vol to make it to the main draw of a major since current assistant tennis coach Chris Woodruff did so in 2001.
Williams turned pro a couple months after the 2011 season where he came up just short of winning the individual singles title. I wrote at the time:
Tennessee would have been amazing next year -- possibly favored to win the NCAAs -- had Rhyne stayed for his Junior year. But that's okay. He is making the correct decision here, and making it at the right time. Williams is like a triple Volunteer legacy and is definitely all Vol, but his recent results tell the tale of a young man ready to play with the big boys.
And now he is officially playing with the big boys and on the biggest of stages. He plays his first round match tomorrow against fellow American Andy Roddick, who won the 2003 U.S. Open when he was 21 (Williams is currently 21). This is actually a pretty decent first round matchup for Williams. He could have had a much worse draw. The 2012 version of Andy Roddick is well past his prime and has been a model of inconsistency the last two years. Williams can win this match. He isn't favored to win, but it won't be the upset of the century -- or even of the week -- if he prevails against the more experienced but recently slumping Roddick.
I'm not the only person who thinks Williams can take out Roddick. Some in the tennis blogosphere who saw Williams' qualifying matches were quite enamored with his game. So much so that they went on record with the bold prediction of a Williams win.
Rhyne Williams beats Andy Roddick -- out with the old, in with the new, I always say. Williams was basically unheard of until the qualis and he can just as quickly go back into his Futures/Challenger hole if he gets mauled by Roddick, but I say the youngster has too much game for Roddick now.
Are you pumped up yet? I know I am. And the good news is that this match will likely be on TV. ESPN has coverage of the Open everyday this week from 1pm -- 11pm. And there is a high probability of them showing a good portion of the Williams/Roddick match. The schedule of play for tomorrow hasn't been posted as of yet -- and because of multiple rain delays today, there is a possibility that the match will get pushed back another day -- but I will be sure to update this post when the schedule is posted. So check back.
In the meantime, it might not be a bad idea to set your DVRs to record ESPN's tennis coverage tomorrow. That is, if you do in fact want to watch a former Vol take out Andy "my wife Brooklyn Decker is way way way too hot for me" Roddick. And surely you do.
ETA: Williams and Roddick are scheduled to play on Arthur Ashe Stadium at 1pm tomorrow (August 28th). ESPN2 has coverage tomorrow from 1pm -- 11pm (Tennis Channel from 11am -- 7pm). So there is a very good chance the first match shown on ESPN2 will be the Williams/Roddick match. The only way that I see this changing is if they aren't able to get Roger Federer's match on tonight. I'll do an update if this happens. Perhaps it would be easier if I just do a new post. For your reference, here is the link to the US Open website where they list the schedule of play.