Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
We inform. You decide.
Friday, April 12, 2024

She was on a new campus, in a new country, surrounded by strangers and not allowed to play the sport she's been playing since her early teens.

The fall of 2007 was rough for Marrit Boonstra. She arrived on campus last fall by way of the Netherlands, where she trained at the Dutch Tennis Federation for five years and was nationally ranked in the under-18 circuit. Yet she was restricted to merely practicing with the Gators last year after the NCAA ruled her academically ineligible until the spring.

In an ironic twist, No. 67 Boonstra is the only Gator competing today at the ITA National Indoor Championships - the second ITA Grand Slam event of the season - in Charlottesville, Va. Meanwhile, the rest of the Gators did not qualify for the National Indoors and are dealing with a cold-like sickness that has affected the team since August.

While she originally was the only UF player unable to compete, it seems fitting that Boonstra has not been infected by the illness. Ever since she got word she was eligible to play last December, she has seemed untouchable.

Once the spring began, Boonstra played the No. 5 position and overmatched her opponents, compiling a 15-3 record. In doubles play, she teamed with Megan Alexander to form a dominant Gators duo. Alexander and Boonstra made their presence felt early by beating then-No. 5 Melissa Mang and Amanda Granson of Duke 8-5 on Feb. 15 and ending the season in the top 25.

While her first year with the Gators opened some eyes in the tennis world, coaches Roland Thornqvist and Dave Balogh saw ways to improve their internationally tested newcomer. The UF coaches began to strengthen Boonstra's backhand, and she worked on it while in the Netherlands after the spring season.

"She did a great job this summer when she was home practicing," Thornqvist said. "When she got back here she had made big strides."

The European Gator has used those strides en route to an eventful fall. Her play in singles matches has stood out, and she has an 8-3 record, including four wins against top-100 players.

Prior to today's National Indoors, Boonstra's biggest tournament was the ITA All-American. Although she failed to reach the main draw, she played 6 1/2 hours of matches on Sept. 30 and won two matches, including a victory against No. 38 Gabriela Niculescu of Southern Cal.

Having played many matches this fall, Boonstra has felt fatigued at times. Never has exhaustion been so rewarding.

Enjoy what you're reading? Get content from The Alligator delivered to your inbox
Support your local paper
Donate Today
The Independent Florida Alligator has been independent of the university since 1971, your donation today could help #SaveStudentNewsrooms. Please consider giving today.

Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2024 The Independent Florida Alligator and Campus Communications, Inc.