- School: University of Florida
- Year Graduated: 2013
- Current Job: Women’s Assistant Coach at University of Florida.
Lauren Embree is a college tennis legend, simple as that. Born in Naples, Florida, Embree helped the Gators win back to back NCAA team titles in 2011 and 2012. During her time in college, her singles record was 117-16, with a staggering 86-6 in singles dual match play. She also went undefeated in SEC play during her four years at Florida (38-0!!!). It is without a doubt one of the greatest individual records in college tennis history.
In juniors she reached as high as number 6 in the world and in pros her career high was 232 in the world. Today, Lauren is back at her alma matter working as the Florida Gators women’s assistant coach as well as running a fitness/nutrition side business.
We hope you learn a lot from this legend. Let’s get to it!
7 Questions With Lauren Embree
#1 What was your recruiting/school selection process like?
I committed the fall of my Junior Year to the University of Florida. I had 5 visits lined up, but only ended up taking 2 officials. Being the top commit in the country I was lucky grateful to have a lot of schools reach out to me the day the rules allowed and really enjoyed most of my conversations. I started talking to schools the moment I was allowed and really took my time with getting to know each coach. A few head coaches came on home visits which I really thought made a big difference in my ability to connect with them as well.
I was looking for a school that had great coaches and leaders, as well as a community and support staff that would guide and help myself grow to improve myself as a person, but also an opportunity to win a national championship because that was one of my goals. What stood out about Florida really were the people behind the entire University. Obviously their facilities are second to none, they have a history of winning, but I really connected well with everyone I met, and could see how the community put their heart and soul around Florida athletics in every sport. The coaches were there to help us get better as young adults, improve our tennis game, and really cared about us as individuals.
#2 What was your favorite moment/story/aspect of college?
My favorite moment was definitely sharing the experience of winning 2 back to back national titles with my teammates. In 2011, Florida was tied up 3-3 in matches vs. Stanford who had one the year before. We were playing at Stanford and they had a 188 match win streak on their home courts with thousands of Stanford fans cheering against us. I was fortunate enough to be the last match on at #2 singles. I found myself down 0-4 in the third set with the National Title on the line. My teammates and coaches were cheering me on courtside, and all I could think about was “ I can do this. Just get this one point, then the next point, then the next one, etc.” I refused to give up on points, chased after every ball, and tried to keep my mind calm, in the zone, plugging away inch by inch. My coaches gave me certain tips that I executed and I became closer and closer. I ended up coming back and winning that match 7-6 in the third set (8-6) in the breaker. Those moments I will never forget, I wouldn’t have won that match if I was playing alone, but I know I had thousands of people behind me supporting me to get me through. If my teammates wouldn’t have done their part, I wouldn’t have gotten that opportunity to help bring home that National Title.
#3 How did college tennis prepare you for the rest of your career/life?
College Tennis has given me so many valuable lessons to go on through life. Tennis is just a small part of the experience you have in college. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without the lessons you learn and adversity you face. You learn how to put people before you, (in tennis that’s a big one), how to be successful on a team by being unselfish and empathetic towards others, how to persevere through adversity, handle a bunch of different responsibilities thrown at your way, and how to deal and handle pressure when it matters most. Nothing can ever replicate the memories and experiences you have when being on a collegiate team, playing the sport you love, while everyone has one big dream and goal that you work together for every day.
I am currently the assistant coach at The University of Florida, with a side fitness/nutrition business I do for fun on the side.
#4 A lot of juniors and parents worry that tennis will suffer because of the academic demands of college. What advice would you give an 18-year old in terms of balancing academics and tennis?
I would tell people that academics or tennis doesn’t have to suffer at all. I think it is how you handle your time and what you do on court to maximize it. Yes, there are responsibilities you have in college, and I truly believe if you have access to coaches, advisors, support staff, and resources, you should ask questions, be present, be engaged and maximize everything you can because education is a very important piece to get through life.
#5 Another thing we see parents worrying about is how the social component of college will affect their kids tennis. What would you tell an 18-year old going to college in regards to having fun without compromising their tennis/academics?
I think being social and having fun is a big part in your college experience. With that said, there is definitely a balance, and priorities to which you want to live your days. Understanding that your priorities or goals are a little different or shifted than the average college student who isn’t playing tennis, or maybe different from another sport even, so to surround yourself with like-minded people like you will always help. Being on a team with people who have the same shared goals or vision can help you make the right decisions and keep you on track to wherever path you want to go. In my opinion, being in an environment that is healthy, fun, competitive, uplifting, and motivating you to continue to get better is pivotal in your development.
#6 Knowing what you know now, what would you do differently if you were starting college again today?
If I could do anything differently in my college experience, I would network and reach out to make more an effort to build relationships with others. Not that I wasn’t social, but I was so focused on my team and how good we could become, sometimes I missed out on building relationships with other people in the community. I think life is all about relationships, so to be able to impact as many lives as you can is important to me. I also would have taken academics a bit more seriously as far as what I wanted to study. I tried hard, but I wasn’t sure my passion at the time so I went with something pretty generic. My passion was tennis =) Looking back, if I knew what I know now, I would definitely put more thought into what I wanted to study so when your done with tennis whether that be right after college, or your pro career, you are passionate about what you studied through college. Having a big picture mindset is something I would remind my younger self if I could do it again.
#7 In your case, why did you think that college tennis was a good option as opposed to going directly to the pro tour?
Going to college, in my opinion, is a huge step in human development. I think you learn so many life lessons through your experience, good or bad, with all the obstacles you get to deal with together with your University. It really is one big family and be able to have that when you’re done is invaluable. Personally, if I did not go to Florida and have the experiences I had with my teammates, I would be missing out on so many more important parts of life other than just tennis. I wouldn’t have my best friends, mentors, a community for life, and people who support and help you be successfully after tennis. College tennis was the best thing that ever happened to me because of the moments. Little things I know I took advantage of….bus rides, team trips, 4-3 wins, 4-3 losses, figuring things out when adversity hits, I just really believe being a college student athlete is not something everyone gets to experience, so if you get the opportunity, grasp it, get better, and enjoy the best moments of your life!!