Embree and Mather advance

The Gators’ Lauren Embree and Joanna Mather advanced to the second round after winning their first round matches on the first day of the USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships at the USTA-Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

The team of Embree and Mather was defeated by Tennessee’s Natalie Pluskota and Kata Szekely, 8-3.

“In doubles we got off to another slow start and it cost us,” head coach Roland Thornqvist said. “We stood and watched the other team hit and move. We played a good Tennessee team and they took advantage of us being on our heels. We have to be more aggressive versus good teams.”

Embree and Mather rebounded after dropping their doubles match to be victorious in their respective first-round matches. Both singles matches went to three sets with Mather’s lasting over three hours.

“We really were tough in the third set of our singles matches today,” Thornqvist said. “We didn’t necessarily play our best, but stepped up at crucial points and showed our toughness. I think Joanna down love-30 in every game except one in the third set and showed some mental fortitude to get through it.

Mather came back from being down 4-1 in the third set against Tulsa’s Sam Vickers to win the thriller 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 (4). Mather earned a rematch against Georgia’s Chelsey Gullickson at 12:30 p.m. on Friday. Gullickson defeated Mather at the USTA/ITA Southeast Regional in Gainesville two weeks ago.

Embree needed three sets to defeat Michigan’s Emina Bektas, 6-1, 4-6, 6-2. The junior will take on SMU’s Marta Lesniak on Friday at 1 p.m.

“I thought I played ok. She’s a tough player,” Embree said of Bektas. “She has one of the biggest serves I have ever played against. It was tough to get a rhythm that was difficult.

“This is my first time here,” Embree said of the tournament. “I did not come my freshman year and I was injured last year. This is a great tournament, great atmosphere, and the tournament is tough. Every round you play someone difficult.”

Four Gators will be in action at the USF Fall Tennis Classic in Tampa. Alex Cercone, Caroline Hitimana, Olivia Janowicz, and Sofie Oyen will start play tomorrow in the three-day singles and doubles contest.

USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships

USTA-Billie Jean King National Tennis Center

Flushing, N.Y.

UF Results

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Singles, First Round (round of 32)

Lauren Embree, UF d. Emina Bektas, Michigan 6-1, 4-6, 6-2

Joanna Mather, UF d. Sam Vickers, Tulsa 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 (4)

Doubles, Second Round (round of 16)

Natalie Pluskota/Kata Szekely, Tennessee d. Lauren Embree/Joanna Mather, UF, 8-3

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