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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Things appear to be looking up for the Florida women's tennis team. After reaching the Round of 16 in the NCAA Championships and finishing 14th in the ITA rankings last year, the team has reason to believe it can produce even better results this season.

Each of the top four players from last season's team, including seniors Marrit Boonstra and Anastasia Revzina, will be returning to action in 2009.

The team is also welcoming a recruiting class that coach Roland Thornqvist believes is the best he has had in his eight-year tenure at UF.

The incoming class is headlined by the nation's No. 2 recruit Lauren Embree, who established a 36-11 record while playing as tough a schedule as anyone in the nation. Embree, who attended Lely High in Marco Island, has competed in a number of prestigious tournaments such as the French Open and U.S. Open Women's Qualifying Tournament, and is expected to make an immediate contribution to the UF team.

Other freshmen joining the Gators this season will be the nation's sixth-ranked recruit, Allie Will, as well as Caroline Hitimana, of Belgium, and Brittany Borsanyi.

Also new to the team will be Claire Bartlett, a former top-10 recruit who is transferring to UF after spending a year at Virginia.

This mix of young talent and veteran leadership ensures that the Gators will be a tough matchup for any school in the nation when team play begins in January.

Until then, the primary focus will be on the numerous individual tournaments filling the schedule in the coming months, beginning with the SEC Coaches Fall Classic, which starts today.

The Gators head into these tournaments with four players ranked in the ITA preseason rankings - Boonstra at No. 3, Revzina at No. 33, sophomore Joanna Mather at No. 86 and sophomore Jessica Alexander at No. 104.

Boonstra's ranking comes as no surprise, as she posted a 36-10 record last year and won 23 of her last 26 matches while playing as UF's No. 1 for the duration of the season. She also reached the quarterfinals of the NCAA Singles Championship, earning herself All-America honors in the process. Still, Boonstra heads into the season with plenty left to prove, as she was only 5-6 against opponents ranked in the top 25 last season.

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