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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Despite having to face three ranked opponents in the previous two days, UF freshmen Allie Will and Lauren Embree looked as strong as ever in first-round wins at the ITA All American Championships.

Also recording first-round victories were Marrit Boonstra on the women's side and Alex Lacroix on the men's side, ensuring that every UF entrant will be in action for at least another day.

Lacroix's 6-2, 6-4 victory over No. 42 Pedro Zerbini of California was his fourth consecutive straight-set victory to open the season.

Even though inclement weather forced the match indoors, Lacroix remained unfazed and was able to jump out to an early 4-1 lead and carry that momentum to a first-set victory. Things got a little tougher in the second set, but Lacroix persevered and got the victory.

"His opponent started to play better as the match went on, but Alex kept playing really hard and used his experience and aggression to win the set," UF men's assistant coach Jeremy Bayon said.

On the women's side, Embree and Will each improved on their already-impressive records by each knocking off yet another ranked opponent.

Embree's 6-2, 6-2 win over Marta Lesniak of SMU brings her to 6-0, while Will improved to 11-1 with her 6-3, 6-3 victory over Boise State's Pichittra Thongdach.

Also, for the third time this week, the dynamic pair of freshmen complemented their singles victories with a win on the doubles court. Despite a rough 0-3 start, Thursday's 8-3 triumph over Jennifer Stevens and Emily Fraser of Virginia brings them to 5-0 as a team.

"Their attitude at the start was a little suspect and they got down on themselves, but they made a complete 180. They were much more positive, their communication was a lot better, and they were able to win eight in a row," UF women's assistant head coach Dave Balogh said.

All totaled, Embree and Will are 22-1 since first donning the orange and blue.

Although the freshmen have certainly stolen the spotlight this week, Boonstra, the team's senior leader, also advanced with a 6-2, 6-3 win over qualifier Natasha Marks of Arizona.

"Those three were extremely resilient today and didn't let anything phase them," Balogh said. "It was probably one of the best days I've seen from a Gator team in many many years."

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All four UF players will be back in action tomorrow with Will and Embree once again pulling double duty.

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