As a junior tennis player, the two things Rhyne Williams was most known for was his superior talent and his wild temper.
He earned his share of violations and lost additional support he could have gotten from fans and the USTA, but Williams has learned to push his talent past his temper - and he has come out where he wanted to be all along. I don't think he has changed much
The tennis ability of Rhyne Williams is certainly not a surprise to anyone. His mother, Michelle DePalmer Williams, was a professional player. His uncle, Michael DePalmer, Jr., was a two-time All-American for the Tennessee Volunteers, where grandfather Mike DePalmer, Sr., coached. The elder DePalmer also helped with the founding of the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy, where Michelle DePalmer grew up. The family ties continue all the way to his first name, as "Rhyne" was his grandmother's maiden name.
Even though, Rhyne Williams' father, Bob, played college tennis at Duke, he grew up in Knoxville, and it was the Tennessee Volunteers that would be deeper in his bloodlines. That's where he would end up playing for two years, but the situation at the time was not the way it was planned.
"I guess the main reason I went to school was to mature," explained the now 21 year old. "It gave me a chance to get away from the pressure. I won a pro tournament when I was very young (16) and there was a ton of pressure for me to turn pro. I was thinking about it and I started to kind of hating tennis for a while, and I wanted to get away from the pro tennis deal. So I went to school, matured, and started enjoying tennis again."
Williams credits the college atmosphere with the change in him.
"It was incredible playing on a team - playing for something more than yourself. It relaxed me, and I flew under the radar. I ended up realizing I still love tennis. I'm glad that it's back, the enjoyment of it."
Despite the change, he realizes that he still needs to keep his attitude in check.
"Well, it's a day by day thing. When I'm enjoying it and having fun, that's when I play my best and when my attitude is the best and it's under control."
Williams also credited the coaching staff at the University of Tennessee with a lot of his change during the two years he played for the Volunteers. "Mike, my uncle, [Head Coach] Sam (Winterbotham) and [Associate Head Coach] Chris Woodruff, they're incredible. Sam will work you to the bone and Chris will be more of your friend, so they're a great pair and it's a great coaching staff. We worked hard."
As sure as Rhyne Williams was that going to college was the right move, he also felt the same way about leaving it.
"In my sophomore year, I won the National Indoors, then I finaled at the NCAAs, losing to Stevie [Johnson of USC]. At that moment, I kind of thought I had done just all that I could with college. I felt that it was the right time and I felt that I was ready. Physically, I felt strong, so I thought it was time and I think it was the right time. " ....read more