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By Erik Gudris

Rhyne Williams (January 10, 2012) -- After a standout college career, Rhyne Williams is making a smooth transition into the pro game. Learn more about this rising American player who earned a wildcard into the Australian Open.

1. Knoxville Kid: Williams was born in Knoxville, Tennessee on March 22nd, 1991. He still resides there.

2. Tennis Tradition: Williams grew up in a family with strong roots in tennis. His mother was a former Orange Bowl champion and played as a pro. His uncle was a top 50 ATP Tour player. His grandfather, Michael DePalmer, Sr. not only coached the University of Tennessee team for many years but was also a founder of the Nick Bollittieri Tennis Academy. His father played for Duke University.

3. Tennessee Titan: Though he had his pick of schools, Williams decided to play for Tennessee. During his time there, he became the No. 1 men's college player, an All-American and reached the NCAA singles finals in 2011.

4. Turning Pro: Soon after reaching the NCAA finals in 2011, Williams turned pro after his sophomore year.

5. 2012 Results: Williams competed in a variety of Futures and Challenger events with his best results being a semifinal showing in Champaign, Illinois. He also qualified for the U.S. Open where he lost in the first round to Andy Roddick. He's currently ranked No. 190 in the world.

6. Best Moment in 2012: "The U.S. Open where I got through qualifying and got to play Andy Roddick on Ashe. That was an insane week. I had a blast. It was definitely the best tennis moment of my life."

7. Roddick Reaction: When asked about what he thought when Roddick announced his retirement a day after playing him in New York, Williams said, "Everyone was shocked. He was one of my favorite players growing up. I watched all of his matches. I feel I like I modeled my game after him a bit with the big serve, big forehand. We'll miss him."

8. Keeping It Together: Working on his mental game is just as important to Williams and his groundstrokes. "I'm trying. It's a day by day process. I have to thank my coach who is also my cousin and has been traveling with me for the last six months. He graduated with a Masters in Sports Psychology so that has helped me with both my tennis game and mental game. We work really hard at it."

9. Back in Oz: Williams has only competed in Australia as a junior so next year will be his first trip down under as a pro. He has received a wildcard into the main draw and will face 25th seed Florian Mayer in the opening round.

10. Off the Court: When not playing, Williams enjoys ping pong, paintball, fishing, and golf.


(Photo Credit: Tennis Now/Gudris)

 

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