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Monday, May 27, 2024

After coming up just short in the first leg of collegiate tennis' Grand Slam two weeks ago, freshman Allie Will and the doubles team of Antoine Benneteau and Alex Lacroix have earned themselves a shot at redemption by winning the ITA Southeast Regional Championships, which serve as a feeder into the Grand Slam's second event.

Will, who was knocked out in the quarterfinal round of the ITA All American, successfully qualified for the ITA National Indoor Championships Monday by defeating No. 6 Laura Vallverdu of Miami in the semifinals and No. 24 Noemie Scharle of FSU in the finals.

Will's 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 win over Vallverdu was the first match of her career in which she came from a set down to claim a victory.

"Allie kept her composure and kept trying to do the right thing, and that's why they play two out of three because you want to force someone to have to play two or three hours of high level tennis to beat you," coach Roland Thornqvist said.

Will came in to the match fully expecting to be challenged against such a highly ranked opponent, but was able to get excellent depth on her shots to neutralize her opponent's slices.

Then, in the final, Will utilized her conditioning advantage to get a relatively easy 6-4, 6-0 win over Scharle, who was clearly exhausted from the three set contest she had played earlier in the day to get to the championship match.

"Physically, Allie was very impressive and that was the key to the weekend," Thornqvist said.

The wins bring Will to 19-2 in her young collegiate career, one of the most impressive starts Thornqvist has seen in his tenure at UF.

"In my nine years here we've had three or four regional champions, and anytime you win a tournament like our regional, that tells you you're playing at very very high level because the players in our region -- year in and year out -- play at such a high level," Thornqvist said.

On the men's side, Lacroix and Benneteau were able to secure a doubles championship with an 8-2 win over Connor Smith and Vahid Mirzadeh of FSU.

Lacroix and Benneteau came into the match with a significant strategic advantage, as Lacroix had defeated both players in singles action earlier in the tournament and was fully aware of what it would take to secure a victory on the doubles court.

"It helped being able to know that both of them are much stronger on their backhand side. Alex was very familiar with the way to play them, and I do think that helped," coach Andy Jackson said.

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The win brought the pairing's record to 8-0 on the season, and punched the duo's ticket to the ITA National Collegiate Indoor Championships.

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