Former Tennessee star Rhyne Williams sent the hometown fans away on a blue note Tuesday night at the Fifth Third Bank Tennis Championships, beating Kentucky Wildcat Eric Quigley for the first time ever 6-3, 7-6 (6).
Quigley, who is traveling with the USTA Summer Collegiate Team, didn't give the partisan crowd much to cheer about on Big Blue Night at UK's Hilary J. Boone Tennis Complex. Quigley fought hard in the tiebreaker but hit far too many long forehands — some of the unforced variety.
"This is the first time I've beaten Quigley in six or seven tries, so I'm really happy," Williams said with a relieved smile. "He's really good at taking balls early, so I tried to back him up."
Williams, who won the NCAA Indoor and was runner-up in the NCAA singles outdoor tournament last month as a sophomore, and rising senior Quigley were certain to be top 5 in the collegiate pre-season rankings this fall. But that won't happen after Williams — who won a Futures event at Innisbrook, Fla., in early July — turned pro at the Aptos Challenger last week in California.
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The Knoxville native will get a true test of his pro game when he faces top-seeded James Ward, a British Davis Cupper, in one of the 7 p.m. features Wednesday.
Top-seeded Melanie Oudin, who won her first pro tourney in Lexington in 2008, will face Chanel Simmonds of South Africa in the other.
In the only true upset Tuesday, Jennifer Ellie (ranked 488 in the world) stung third-seeded Sloane Stephens (No. 131) 6-4, 7-6 (6). The only other seed to see action, No. 2 Alison Riske, pulled out a three-setter against Krista Hardeback. The other six seeds have first-round matches Wednesday.
On the men's side, Wayne Odesnik (No. 2), Chris Guccione (3), Fritz Wolmarans (4) and Carsten Ball (5), last year's Lexington champ, all prevailed in straight sets.