NEW YORK — Former Vol Rhyne Williams will make his U.S. Open singles debut Tuesday on the grandest scale in tennis: Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Tuesday's order of play has Williams facing American legend and former World No. 1 Andy Roddick in the second match on Arthur Ashe, the largest tennis-specific stadium in the world at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
Roddick, the 2003 U.S. Open champion, enters this year’s event seeded 20th and won his 32nd career ATP Tour title earlier this summer in Atlanta. Williams is ranked No. 283 in the world and won three matches in straight sets to qualify for the tournament.
The match will not start before 1 p.m. and is likely to be the featured match on ESPN2. The match will also be streamed on ESPN3.com.
To celebrate the start of America's major and former Williams' first singles appearance in a Grand Slam, here are some Tennessee facts about the U.S. Open:
1. WILLIAMS' DEBUT
Only a year removed from his playing career at Tennessee, Rhyne Williams will play his first career main draw singles match at the U.S. Open on Tuesday against American great Andy Roddick.
Williams won three qualifying matches to advance to the field of 128, beating a trio of top-200 players in straight sets. He comfortably defeated an error-prone Peter Gojowczyk of Germany 6-3, 6-2 in his final match.
Now, Williams gets a paycheck of at least $23,000 and a match against former world No. 1 Roddick on Tuesday. The match will be the second on Arthur Ashe Stadium -- the center court -- not before 1 p.m. Eastern.
No Vol has appeared in the main draw of a Grand Slam since associate head coach Chris Woodruff played in his final U.S. Open in 2001. While the 11-year stretch has between Vols on the biggest tennis stage been a long one, all indications point to Tennessee being represented in the Grand Slams for years to come.
The Vols boast three ATP top-300 players from the 2011 lineup: Williams, John-Patrick Smith and Tennys Sandgren. Smith and Sandgren both played in qualifying last week, falling in the first and second rounds respectively.
You can follow Williams on Twitter this week @RhyneWilliams.
2. COACH ANNACONE
There's another Vol who will be walking the grounds of Billie Jean King Tennis Center this week: Paul Annacone.
A three-time All-American at Tennessee from 1982-84, Annacone made his mark on the professional circuit as a player certainly, but he has gained even greater reputation worldwide serving as a coach to arguably the two greatest players in the second half of their careers. A decade ago, he coached Pete Sampras to his final U.S. Open and now he works with current world No. 1 Roger Federer.
Federer has been winning at a torrid pace this summer as the 31 year old reclaimed the No. 1 world ranking en route to capturing his seventh Wimbledon title, earned a silver medal for Switzerland in the Olympics and won the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati as well. He's seeded No. 1 this week.
Since Annacone started working with him in 2010, Federer has won two end-year championships, the Wimbledon title this year and 13 total singles titles.
As a player, Annacone recorded the Vols' top performance at the U.S. Open in doubles, reaching the finals with David Wheaton in 1990, where they lost 6-2, 7-6, 6-2 to the South African duo of Pieter Aldrich and Danie Visser.
Annacone was a doubles standout and was ranked as high as third in the world. In addition to his final appearance in 1990, he was a semifinalist in Flushing in 1989 and a quarterfinalist in 1987 and 1988.
You can follow Annacone on Twitter @paul_annacone.
3. THE MIXED TITLE
Lefty 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 with 102.
In addition to being a finalist in doubles, Annacone was also a finalist in mixed doubles. He and Betsy Nagelsen lost to Martina Navratilova and Emilio Sanchez in the 1987 finals 6-4, 6-7, 7-6.
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