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Thursday, May 23, 2024

ALLIGATOR STAFF REPORT

Making the transition from high school to college is usually a very difficult and time-consuming process. But UF freshman Allie Will made it look easy, winning the first three matches of her career en route to the singles title in the top flight of the Southeastern Conference Coaches Fall Classic on Vanderbilt's campus in Nashville, Tenn.

Will was without a doubt the most impressive player for the Gators, as she started the tournament with a 6-0, 6-0 victory over No. 41 Yvette Hyndman of Georgia and then followed that up with a victory over No. 29 Ana Zubori of South Carolina. Will and Zubori split the first two sets as Will took the first 7-5 and Zubori took the second 6-4, only to have Zubori retire after Will went up 3-1 in the third.

These victories earned Will a spot in the championship match, where she was able to defeat No. 46 Catherine Newman of Vanderbilt 6-3, 4-6. 6-0. Newman was Will's third nationally ranked opponent of the tournament, and the second one Will bounced back from a second-set loss to defeat.

Will was not the only player to enjoy success, as sophomore Joanna Mather ended up taking third place in the second flight after splitting her first two matches and then recording a come-from-behind win over South Carolina's Dijana Stojic 2-6, 7-6 (4), 6-3.

"The highlight of this entire weekend was the play of Allie and Joanna on Sunday," coach Roland Thornqvist said. "Both played their best tennis of the weekend in the third set of the final day, and that effort certainly makes me proud. They were fit and found a way to play sound and smart tennis at the very end of the tournament."

Even with top player Marrit Boonstra and top recruit Lauren Embree taking the weekend off, the Gators were able to win 13 of the 23 matches they participated in, putting the rest of the conference on notice that UF is looking to be a serious contender this year.

Also seeing action this weekend was newcomer Claire Bartlett, who notched a pair of victories over unranked players before falling to Abigail Guthrie 6-3, 6-3 on the final day. Bartlett, a sophomore who transferred to UF from Virginia, won her opening-round match against Paulina Schippers of Auburn 6-3, 6-4, and then followed that up with a 7-5, 6-3 victory over South Carolina's Josefin Andersson.

Other players making their UF debuts on the weekend were Brittany Borsanyi and Caroline Hitimana, who went 1-2 in doubles action. Borsanyi also got some time at singles but lost both her matches.

The only returning player besides Mather to make a singles appearance was senior Anastasia Revzina. Revzina recorded a first-round victory but went on to lose her next two matches to Newman and Zubori, both of whom were dispatched by Will later in the tournament.

As for doubles action, Will and Revzina combined to go 2-1 on the weekend, as did Bartlett and Mather.

"We performed much better on the singles court than the doubles court, but that's to be expected since we've only been practicing for a few days and haven't had a lot of time to develop chemistry," Thornqvist said.

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