Marco Island’s Lauren Embree, former Lely star, was named the Southeastern Conference Women’s Tennis Player of the Year for a record third time on Wednesday.
She also one of five members of the University of Florida women’s tennis team who were recognized by the league coaches to the All-SEC Team.
Coach Roland Thornqvist was voted the league’s Coach of the Year for the fourth time in his 11 years with the Gators.
Embree is the first player in the 21-year history of the award to receive the SEC’s top individual honor three times in a career. Embree also was voted the SEC Player of the Year in 2012 and in 2010, when she became the first ever freshman to collect the award.
“It’s really special to me,” Embree shared. “I’ve never thought I’d be the first player to win this award so many times because there are and have been so many talented and great players in the SEC.
“I’m not really focused on awards. I just try and come out every day and win for the team and for my teammates. It’s an extra cool award to get and it’s something I want to thank my coaches and teammates who have helped me.”
Last year Embree joined another Gator great Jill Craybas as the only two-time recipients, as Craybas was honored in 1995 and 1996.
Embree compiled a perfect 39-0 record during her dual match singles career against SEC opponents in conference matches and helped the Gators win four consecutive league regular-season and tournament championships.
“Lauren deserves every award that you can give her,” praised Thornqvist, who this year has led Florida to a 22-2 overall record, a share of the regular-season title and the team’s fourth straight postseason championship. “The cool thing about Lauren is that she’s obviously an outstanding tennis player, but she is a tremendous team player,” Thornqvist said.
“She plays primarily for the team. She gives everything she has every day in practice and elevates our whole team to new levels. I’m very pleased but not surprised that she’s once again the SEC Player of the Year.”
Led by Embree, Florida won its 27th SEC overall championship in its 34 years, making the Gator women’s tennis team the winningest SEC team in any sport.
Obe Blanc wins wrestling title
Former Lely High School standout wrestler Obe Blanc defeated Frank Perrelli in the 2013 Las Vegas/ASICS U.S. Open freestyle wrestling tournament on Saturday.
Blanc, a former collegiate wrestler at Lock Haven and Oklahoma State, won 6-0, 4-0, in the title bout at 55 kilograms.
Blanc, the top seed, allowed only three points the whole day. He beat Nico Megaludis, 2-0, 1-0, in his first match, then Steve Mytych, 1-0, 1-0. In the semifinals, Blanc defeated Mark McKnight, 0-2, 1-1, 3-0.
6th annual Irish Open
No better place to spread the blarney than the 6th annual Sons & Daughters of Erin 6th annual Irish Open on May 5 at Hammock Bay Golf Club.
Proceeds will benefit the Marco Island Charter Middle School.
The shotgun scramble begins art 1 p.m. The cost, $100, includes golf, cart, prizes and dinner buffet.
Sign up as a foursome or single and be placed on a team. Hole sponsorship is also $100. For more information or to register, call Kathleen Reynolds, 394-2442, Pete Donaghy, 248-3611, or Bill Reynolds, 821-6675.