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Strong serve helps Williams claim first singles title in Dallas

February 11, 2013 12:05 PM
Rhyne Williams poses with the trophy after capturing the Dallas Challenger singles title.
By Gene Park, special to USTA.com
DALLAS – After winning his semifinal match, Rhyne Williams explained how his improving serve has become a "huge weapon" on indoor courts. In the final, Williams’ serve earned the 21-year-old his first career singles title, as he defeated Robby Ginepri, 7-5, 6-3, in the final of the 15th Challenger of Dallas.

"That’s about as good as it gets," Williams said. "First and second serve, I was really going after it. I even went for a few aces on second serve. I was really confident. I felt I could hit any spot I wanted to."

And that impressive serve seemed to get better as the match went on. Fittingly, the No. 191-ranked player finished off the match the same way he did in his semifinal, serving up a ball that his opponent failed to return in play.

The sold-out crowd was treated to an intense first set that saw Ginepri, the 2004 US Open semifinalist once ranked 15th in the world, take an early lead before Williams won the final four games, gaining momentum that he carried into the final set.

"Robby was playing like he was Top 15 again," Williams said. "He was really moving me around. I felt exhausted after the first three games."

Ginepri, who defeated former world No. 4 James Blake in Friday’s other semifinal, broke Williams’ first service game but couldn’t repeat that task the remainder of the night.

Complementing his strong service game, Williams was consistent all-around, mixing in an effective drop shot that kept his 30-year-old opponent on his toes.

Williams’ night wasn’t over after the victory, though. He became the third player to ever reach the finals in both the singles and doubles events. But like the two competitors before him, Williams was unable to complete the sweep.

Williams and partner Tennys Sandgren were defeated by Alex Kuznetsov and Mischa Zverev, 6-4, 7-6 (4), [10-5], in the final that took place 30 minutes after the singles championship ended.
With the singles victory, the former University of Tennessee standout’s confidence should continue to grow. Williams entered the 2012 season ranked outside the Top 500, but he’s been steadily climbing the rankings ever since and ascended to No. 159 after his victory in Dallas.


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