Caitlyn Williams battles through pain, Arkansas

In between points Friday night, Tennessee women’s tennis player Caitlyn Williams did not look well, as she noticeably limped around after suffering a minor ankle injury during a fall in practice on Thursday.

During games, however, she had a flawless grace for the most that was inspiring to watch.

Williams’ play also brought good results for her and the Lady Vols in a 6-7, 6-4, 6-3 comeback victory over No. 50 Kimberley-Ann Surin at No. 3 singles to give Tennessee (8-8, 5-4 SEC) a 4-2 victory against Arkansas at Barksdale Outdoor Stadium.

The deciding point turned out to be a long lob that landed near the back line and beyond the reach of Surin.

“The girl came in a lot, and she was really tall, so I just tried to get it up over her head,” she said of her final stroke.

UT co-head coach Mike Patrick was noticeably happy that the sophomore from Knoxville was able to get the clinching team point.

“I felt great for Cait because she’s been out there a lot when it didn’t go her way, so that was a good finish for her and hopefully that will help her out,” he said.

Williams, who was obviously feeling better emotionally than physically after the match, did not seem overly concerned about having to deal with another nagging injury.

But she did take some time to relish getting the victory after battling through the mental challenges of trailing and then the pain of an injury that appeared to increase in soreness as the match continued.

“It’s always good to come back in a match and win the last two sets, and I just wanted to get that win for the team,” she said. “You’ve always got to fight through your pain.”

The Lady Vols had to battle through plenty of emotional pain collectively in the early going after losing the doubles point when only the No. 1 team of Brynn Boren and Kata Szekely could gain a win (8-4).

Tennessee then entered singles knowing regular No. 4 player Joanna Henderson will be out for a couple of weeks with a minor illness.

However, Tiffany Tavares (6-3, 6-4) and Mimi Fotopoulos (6-2, 6-2) gave Tennessee a 2-1 lead with victories at No. 5 and No. 4, respectively.

No. 2 player Kata Szekely, whose parents from Hungary are here to see her recognized on Senior Day Sunday against LSU, then lost, 4-6, 6-2, 4-6.

Brynn Boren gained the third UT point at No. 1 with a 6-4, 7-5 win over the Yang Pang before Williams clinched.

Jesse Grace was losing in the third set at No. 6 when the match was called.

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