Lauren Embree has near-perfect day

The Gators’ fifth-ranked Lauren Embree was in control for her two matches on Saturday. With straight-set victories, she advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2011 USTA/ITA Regional Championships at the University of Florida’s Ring Tennis Complex.

Embree took down Georgia’s Alina Jerjomina, 6-0, 6-2 in the second round. She also shut out USF’s Ecaterina Vasenina in the first set and won 6-0, 6-1.

“Lauren played some of the best tennis that she has in a while,” Florida head coach Roland Thornqvist said. “She’s worked really, really hard. I think she felt that in the past few weeks, she hasn’t seen the fruit of the hard work, but I think it’s starting to shine through a little bit here. I thought that she played excellent tennis here today.”

Three of Embree’s teammates, Olivia Janowicz, Sofie Oyen and Joanna Mather, will join her in quarterfinals play on Sunday. The doubles duo of Janowicz and Caroline Hitimana also advanced after gutting out a tough victory over Georgia Tech’s sixth-ranked Caroline Lilley and Jillian O’Neill, 9-8 (3).

Janowicz, in singles play, would cruise to a 6-1, 6-1 victory over Georgia State’s Whitney Byrd. She brought back her gutsy play to a comeback win against Georgia’s Lilly Kimbell, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4. 

“I was very impressed with Olivia (Janowicz),” Thornqvist said. “The fact that she could win that match was impressive.”

“I thought she did a really good job keeping her head,” Thornqvist continued, “even though it was spinning in the first set trying to figure out what in the world was going on. I was really impressed by that.”

Oyen was able to win against Georgia State’s Maryna Kozazhenko in straight sets (6-1, 6-4). Later in the day she took on Georgia Tech’s Christina Ngo and won 6-4, 6-2.

Mather was dominant against UNF’s Dainelle Day, winning 6-2, 6-1.She went on to defeat Georgia Tech’s Lilley after a tough first set 7-6 (4), 6-2.

Not everything turned to gold for the Gators on Saturday, as they lost a few heartbreakers. Alex Cercone was not able to overcome Georgia’s Lauren Herring in a three-set match losing 6-4, 3-6, 7-5. Hitimana would defeat Florida State’s Carolina De Los Santos 6-3, 1-0 ret. but fell to Georgia Tech’s O’Neill 6-2, 6-0. Cercone and Oyen came up short against Florida State’s De Los Santos and Ruth Seaborne, 8-6.

On Sunday, the Gators will look to continue their winning ways. Embree will face Herring. Janowicz will take on O’Neill. The 73rd-ranked Oyen plays against Miami’s 25th-ranked Anna Bartenstein while the 26th-ranked Mather competes against Georgia’s ninth-ranked Chelsey Gullickson. For doubles, Janowicz and Hitimana will face Georgia’s Gullickson and Kimbell.

Doubles play starts at 9 a.m. Sunday. Singles play will be at 10:30.

Coach Thornqvist was pleased with today’s play and looks forward to continuing the tournament Sunday.

“To win this tournament, you have to not only play well – you have to be tough, you have to be fit,” Thornqvist said. “I think if today was any indication, then I think we’re going to continue to play better as the tournament goes along. That’s what you have to do to win this thing.”

2011 USTA/ITA Southeast Regional Women’s Tennis Championships

Ring Tennis Complex, Gainesville, Fla.

Hosted by the University of Florida

UF Results

Saturday, Oct. 22

Singles, Second Round (Round of 32)

(5) Lauren Embree, UF d. Alina Jerjomina, UGA, 6-0, 6-2

Lauren Herring, UGA d. (34) Alex Cercone, UF, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5

(85) Caroline Hitimana, UF d. Carolina De Los Santos, FSU, 6-3, 1-0 ret.

(37) Olivia Janowicz, UF d. Whitney Byrd, GST, 6-1, 6-1

(73) Sofie Oyen, UF d. Maryna Kozazhenko, GST, 6-1, 6-4

(26) Joanna Mather, UF d. Danielle Day, UNF, 6-2, 6-1

Singles, Third Round (Round of 16)

(5) Lauren Embree, UF d. Ecaterina Vasenina (70), USF, 6-0, 6-1

Jillian O’Neill (21), GT d. (85) Caroline Hitimana, UF, 6-2, 6-0

(37) Olivia Janowicz, UF d. Lilly Kimbell (123), UGA, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4

(73) Sofie Oyen, UF d. Christina Ngo (44), GT, 6-4, 6-2

(26) Joanna Mather, UF d. Caroline Lilley (69), GT, 7-6 (4), 6-2

Doubles, Quarterfinal (Round of 16)

Olivia Janowicz/Caroline Hitimana, UF d. (6) Caroline Lilley/Jillian O’Neill, GT, 9-8 (3)

Ruth Seaborne/Carolina De Los Santos, FSU d. Cercone/Sofie Oyen, UF, 8-6

Gator Country reporter Sara Ladwig contributed to this report.

Gator Country reporter Sara Ladwig can be reached at