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CHARLOTTESVILLE – Cavalier senior Michael Shabaz (Fairfax, Va.) will be one of eight players competing in the USTA Australian Open Wild Card Playoff later this month in Atlanta. The winner of the tournament, held Dec. 17-19 at the Racquet Club of the South, will receive the USTA’s main draw wild card into the 2011 Australian Open.

“This is a huge opportunity,” said Shabaz. “I have never before been invited to have an opportunity like this, to make the main draw of a Grand Slam. I am excited for the chance and hope to make the most of it.”

Shabaz received his invitation after winning a tournament last week during the USTA’s training camp for top collegiate players in Boca Raton, Fla. He won three matches in the tournament to win the event, defeating Evan King of Michigan 7-6, 6-2 in the quarterfinals, Sekou Bangoura of Florida 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 in the semifinals, and teammate Drew Courtney (Clifton, Va.) 6-2, 6-4 in the final. Courtney reached the final by topping Austin Krajicek of Texas A&M 6-4, 6-4 in the quarterfinals and Eric Quigley of Kentucky 6-3, 7-5 in the semifinals.

Joining Shabaz in the field is one other collegiate player, Rhyne Williams of Tennessee. The other six players competing for the wild card are Jordan Cox, Ryan Harrison, Denis Kudla, Tim Smyczek, Jack Sock, and Donald Young.

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