Embree advances to the finals

The Gators’ Lauren Embree was spectacular on Sunday by winning her two singles matches including a hard-fought match against Georgia Tech’s Jillian O’Neill at the University of Florida’s Ring Tennis Complex. The victory over O’Neill put Embree into the finals of the USTA/ITA Southeast Regional Championships to face Georgia’s Chelsey Gullickson.

“They played here last year, and it was a tie break for the third set. It was one of those thrillers, and Lauren was able to win,” head coach Roland Thornqvist said about Embree’s match last year against Gullickson. “Gullickson today was some of the best tennis I’ve seen her play. Hopefully she spent all her bullets, but it will be a tough match, regardless.”

“Last time we played, we were at home and it was a really long, really good match,” Embree noted. “It should be a really good match.”

In quarterfinals play, Embree defeated Lauren Herring 2-0 after Herring retired with a lower leg injury. Against O’Neill, she won 6-4, 6-2. 

“I thought I played well. I thought I played a lot better as the tournament went on and I thought I played a pretty good player this afternoon, so I had to play well in order to swim.” Embree said. 

Sophomore Sofie Oyen was able to come back and upset Miami’s 25th-ranked Anna Bartenstein, 2-6, 6-4, 6-1. Oyen in the semifinals would fall to Gullickson 6-1, 6-1.

“Bartenstein’s tough, and she doesn’t usually beat herself,” Thornqvist remarked. “It was nice to see Sofie buckle down and grind when she had to and put extra balls into play and be creative when the opportunity arose. I’m very happy with that win. It was a great win for Sofie.

The rest of the quarterfinals did not go as well for the Gators. Joanna Mather lost to Gullickson 6-0, 6-1. Olivia Janowicz had a rough loss to O’Neill, 7-6 (4), 3-6, 6-3.

In doubles play, the pair of Janowicz and Caroline Hitimana was up 4-2 over Georgia’s Gullickson and Lilly Kimbell. The Georgia duo came back and made it 5-5 and went on to win 7-5 to advance to the finals.

“I thought we were the better team until 5-3 and we sort of got small,” Thornqvist said. “We stopped moving and made some untimely errors but we got an idea of what we need to do when those to play together to be a good team.”

The final day of the tournament will take place tomorrow. The singles final will be at 10 a.m. The doubles main draw will follow.

2011 USTA/ITA Southeast Regional Women’s Tennis Championships

Ring Tennis Complex Gainesville, Fla.

Hosted by the University of Florida

UF Results

Sunday, Oct. 22

Singles, Quarterfinals (Round of 8)

(9) Chelsey Gullickson, UGA d. (26) Joanna Mather, UF, 6-0, 6-1

(5) Lauren Embree, UF, d. Lauren Herring, UGA, 2-0 ret.

(73) Sofie Oyen, UF, d. (25) Anna Bartenstein, UM, 2-6, 6-4, 6-1

(21) Jillian O’Neill, GT, d. (37) Olivia Janowicz, UF, 7-6 (4), 3-6, 6-3

Singles, Semifinals (Round of 4)

(9) Chelsey Gullickson, UGA d. (73) Sofie Oyen, UF, 6-1, 6-1

(5) Lauren Embree, UF, d. (21) Jillian O’Neill, GT, 6-4, 6-2

Doubles, Quarterfinals (Round of 4)

Chelsey Gullickson/Lilly Kimbell d. Olivia Janowicz/Caroline Hitimana, UF 8-5

Gator Country reporter Sara Ladwig can be reached at sladwig@gatorcountry.com