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Thursday, May 23, 2024

After beginning ITA Regional Championship play Friday with a combined 15 entrants, Allie Will on the women's side and the doubles team of Alex Lacroix and Antoine Benneteau on the men's have traversed difficult fields and still have a shot to win titles Monday.

Will, the tournament's six seed, advanced to the semifinals with a quartet of straight-set victories.

Not until the second set of her quarterfinal match was she truly tested, dropping no more than two games in a set prior to that 7-5 win.

"The first set was very clean, and in the second set, the Florida State player played a lot better and (Will) had to raise her game," UF coach Roland Thornqvist said. "Allie's forehand was the best shot on the court and that was the difference today."

In men's play, the tandem of Lacroix and Benneteau beat Georgia's Drake Bernstein and Javier Garrapiz 9-7 to earn themselves a spot in the doubles final.

If the duo is victorious Monday, it will earn a birth in the ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships, which is considered to be the second leg of college tennis' grand slam.

Lacroix, Benneteau and the rest of the Gators also had a busy weekend in singles action. With the exception of Joey Burkhardt, who was facing a rough draw in his first match back from injury, and Erik Corace, who lost to an eventual finalist, every player on the roster got at least one win.

Lacroix and Johnny Hamui advanced all the way to the semis, while Benneteau got to the quarterfinals before losing to the No. 5 player in the nation 6-1, 6-7 (11), 7-6 (9) in a grueling match that lasted nearly four hours.

"Alex and Johnny getting to the semis are both very good results. Also, for Antoinne to have match points against a top five player in the country is very good," UF coach Andy Jackson said.

In other women's action, Claire Bartlett advanced to the quarterfinals, while Lauren Embree, the tournament's top seed, was upset in the round of 16.

"(Embree) wasn't able to hit the ball the way we've been trying to and the player we played played the match of her life," Thornqvist said.

"She's gonna get better and she's doing the things we work on in practice with her ground strokes. I think a loss toughens you up and she'll be just fine. She's clearly one of the better players in the country."

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