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Monday, May 27, 2024

When Florida takes on UCF today at 5 p.m., two freshmen will be leading the charge for the Gators.

Lauren Embree and Allie Will are both already ranked in the top 15 in singles play only one match into the Gators’ dual-match schedule and showed UF coach Roland Thornqvist that they are further along than most freshmen.

Thornqvist said the two are better prepared than “traditional freshmen” this early in the season.

Despite playing in just their first year at the college level, they have experience that prepared them for competing at UF (1-0), especially Embree.

Thornqvist specifically cited No. 15 Embree’s experience of playing in the main draw of the 2009 French Open as more advanced than a normal freshman.

Embree easily won her first match in the dual-match schedule 6-2, 6-2 against Irina Paraschiv of North Texas on Sunday.

“She’s played the main draw of the French Open. Playing against North Texas for the Gators probably isn’t a big deal,” Thornqvist said.

Thornqvist also spoke highly of his other top-15 freshman, Allie Will, who won her match 6-2, 6-1 against Madura Ranganathan of North Texas.

He was impressed that Will, ranked No. 13 in singles play, “consistently put the ball away” against North Texas despite windy conditions that made the match a harder challenege for the Gators than the 7-0 victory shows.

“When she has power on both sides combined with the athleticism, she’s going to be very, very tough to beat,” Thornqvist said of Will.

Will also participates in doubles compeition.

She and senior Marrit Boonstra make up the No. 26 doubles team in the nation. The duo beat its North Texas compeition 8-3.

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Thornqvist believes that Boonstra is another potential top-10 talent and under ranked at No. 81 in singles play.

At Monday’s press conference, he said  figuring out which starting positions to place all the talent on the team “is a pleasant problem to have.”

One area Thornqvist will be looking for the two freshmen and the rest of his team to improve on is controlling the pace and flow of the match. 

Thornqvist said his team had to come from behind in many of its wins Sunday against North Texas.

Florida is 7-0 all-time against UCF, and the  Gators’ men’s team topped the Knights 7-0 on Friday.

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