News & Features
Top Prospect: Rhyne Williams
by Colette Lewis
, 29 January 2009
Rhyne Williams' tennis compass has always pointed in the direction of the University of Tennessee. He lives in Knoxville, where his grandfather coached the Volunteers to an NCAA team final and his mother and uncle were All-Americans.
But as the 17-year-old senior turns his attention to the collegiate phase of his tennis career, Tennessee is currently one of five options he is considering, along with Illinois
, Texas A&M
"I really have a good relationship with [Tennessee] assistant coach Chris Woodruff," Williams says of the former Volunteer NCAA champion who reached the ATP Top 30. "I've known him since I was eight or nine years old. But I really want this decision to be up to me, not to my parents and my grandfather, so I'm going to go into all the visits with an open mind and see what I like."
His mother, Michelle DePalmer Williams, who, like her son, is a former Orange Bowl champion, went on to play professionally; his grandfather, Michael DePalmer Sr., coached the men's team for 14 years and was a founder of the legendary Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy; his uncle, Michael Jr., was a Top 50 ATP professional who later coached Boris Becker. That powerful gravitational pull is countered by his father Bob, who competed at Duke, although that heritage was incidental to his decision to consider the Blue Devils, according to Williams.
"I've known Ramsey (Duke head coach Smith) because Andres Pedroso was my coach, and they were college roommates together (at Duke), so he introduced me to him, and we've become pretty close," Williams says. "I've visited Duke, and obviously it's an amazing school."
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