By Sally Milano, USTA.com
University of Florida senior Lauren Embree is currently the No. 1-ranked player in the NCAA Division I Women's Rankings. Embree led the Gators to consecutive NCAA team championships in 2011 and 2012 and was named the NCAA Championships Most Outstanding Player both years, having clinched the team title in each of Florida’s championship runs. Named SEC Player of the Year her freshman and junior years and the ITA National Rookie Player of the Year her freshman season, Embree captured the first national singles title of her illustrious career by winning the 2012 Riviera/ITA All-American Championships, and she has recorded more than 100 overall wins during her college career.
The 21-year-old All-American from Marco Island, Fla., recently took time from her busy schedule to discuss her favorite things about being a Gator, her plans after graduation and more.
USTA.com: You were a top recruit in your graduating class. What made you choose Florida?
Lauren Embree: What made me choose Florida was a combination of a lot of different things. I loved the girls on the team, the weather, the staff they had behind Florida athletics, the chance of being able to win a national championship and everything that came with being a Gator. When it came down to it, though, it was the coaches. Roland [Thornqvist] and Dave [Balogh] have been absolutely amazing to me in my four years here, not only on the court helping me every day with my tennis game, but off the court when I needed help with other things. I can’t thank them enough for not only putting up with me every day -- which is tough at times, ask them -- but for helping me through my four-year journey here.
USTA.com: What is a typical day in the life of Lauren Embree like?
Embree: Ha … well, pretty busy, I would say. During the week, I am up usually anywhere from 6:30 to 8:30 a.m., depending on when my individual [workout] is in the morning. After my individual, I hop on my handy blue motorized Yamaha scooter (which, by the way, Roland is not a fan that most of the girls have one) and drive to class. Our team practice is usually from 2 to 4-ish, followed by weights with our strength coach or Roland’s very challenging fitness sessions. After the day is about done, I head over to training table with the girls or my boyfriend and stay there as long as I can to postpone the schoolwork I have that night. (I’m kidding.) After that, I go home or to the OSL, which is the student-athlete study building, and get some work done. I try to be in bed at a reasonable hour and repeat the next day. Sounds fun, right?
USTA.com: Who has been the biggest influence in your tennis career?
Lauren Embree: I have been fortunate enough to have a lot of special people care about my tennis. The biggest influence in my tennis career, though, has been my parents. They have always been very supportive over the course of my tennis career, and I wouldn’t have been able to experience the things I have been able to, travel as much and be at the University of Florida playing tennis if it wasn’t for them. They try to come up to matches as much as they can, and I have a feeling they may be up for a lot more during my senior year.
USTA.com: What is the best thing about Florida and being a Gator?
Embree: Florida has been the best four years of my life for many reasons. The experiences and best friends I have on my team, winning national championships, developing relationships with other student-athletes, having an amazing fan base here at Florida and how the community as a whole cares about the Gators is all what makes it so special to me.
USTA.com: What are you planning to do after graduation?
Embree: I can’t believe it is actually time for me to answer this question! Every time I would think, "Oh, I have a few years to figure that out." Well, I am in my senior year now. I am majoring in Sports Management. I would like to stay in the sports field, and I would like to travel some with whatever job I have. I cannot imagine sitting inside an office all day. That’s about as far as I have come with what I want my job to be like. As you can tell, I haven’t thought about it much. But before all of that grown-up stuff, I want to pursue my dream of becoming a professional tennis player, so after I get my degree, I will put that aside for a little and play on the pro tour.