Rhyne Williams weighs going pro, returning to UT

Tennessee sophomore tennis standout Rhyne Williams has thought about turning pro after this season, but the first-team All-SEC selection is unsure what he will do.

“It’s still up in the air,’’ said Williams, who is No. 5 in the latest ITA college rankings. “I’m keeping my options open. It’s 50-50.”

Williams said he has enrolled in classes just in case he returns. He also wants to talk to his parents about his decision.

“They know what’s best,” he said of his parents, Bob and Michelle Williams, both college players. “They’ve been through it before.’’

Williams said he’ll have to make a decision no latter than mid-summer.

“I definitely would like to play some pro tournaments this summer and see where I’m at,” Williams said. “I had a pretty good summer last year. If I could do better this summer, then maybe.”

Chris Woodruff, UT associate head coach, turned pro in 1993 after winning the NCAA singles title his sophomore season.

“That wouldn’t hurt,’’ said Williams, 9-2 in the SEC in singles and doubles this season.

Williams has split time playing at No. 1 and 2 singles this season. He said he’ll play where his coaches ask him to, but he admits “there is a bit of added pressure playing No. 1. . . . It’s a little nerve wracking.’’

Senior John-Patrick Smith, the SEC player of the year the past two seasons, has played No. 1 singles most of his UT career.

“J.P. has handled it incredibly well,’’ Williams said. “I look at him as my idol. He does everything perfect. He prepares perfectly and just watching him, following in his steps, that’s what I’ve tried to do.’’

Williams Surgery: Tennessee signee Caitlin Williams of Knoxville underwent rotator cuff surgery on her right (serving) shoulder March 11 and is not expected to hit again for another few months.

Williams, one of the nation’s top junior players, hasn’t played competitively since retiring from a match in Memphis in late July.

“It’s been a challenge,’’ said Bob Williams, Caitlin’s father. “She wants to play.’’

Meanwhile, Caitlin, Rhyne’s younger sister, has taken up fishing with her grandfather in Newport. He casts, she reels.

“She’s a pretty good fisherwoman,’’ Bob Williams said. “She caught 21 (bass and blue gill) the other day. She may be the next Bill Dance.’’

Bob Williams suffered a torn rotator cuff in high school, but never had surgery because the procedure at that time was too invasive. He played through it at Duke and managed a successful college career at the No. 3 and 4 singles position and No. 1 and 2 doubles.

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Comments » 2

stormblast writes:

It's much different in such an individual sport such as golf and tennis than with a team sport when it comes to going pro. With team sports, you depend on others. If he feels, he's ready - go for it.

I like to see all student athletes get their degrees. I hope he finishes school at some point if he goes pro.

I know he will represent the Big Orange well on the tennis court pro or collegiate.

easleychuck writes:

Confusing/misleading headline.

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