Will Heads Florida's Way
by Colette Lewis
, 9 July 2009
Blue chip recruit Allie Will had two decisions to make during her senior year. The 18-year-old from Boca Raton, Fla. was debating both where and when she would attend college, deciding late last year on the University of Florida, and early last month that she would not take a year off, but instead join the Gators this fall.
"I think taking a year off is a great thing for some people," says Will, ranked sixth in the Tennis Recruiting Network's Class of 2009, "but for me, I just needed matches, and I felt like if I went to Florida I would be getting matches all the time, as well as being able to travel to seven pro tournaments before the season started.
"Florida will give me the opportunity to compete every day against different people, gain a lot of confidence playing different players, and become match tough again. To be in a positive environment, on a team that will push me, I thought college would really help me in that way."
Will took unofficial visits to the University of Southern California and UCLA while playing in a Pro Circuit event last November in San Diego, and although she had been considering additional schools too, Gainesville was the only other campus she visited.
"I formed a relationship with assistant coach Dave (Balogh) quite a while ago - he's wonderful - and when I took my unofficial visit, I actually hadn't met Roland (head coach Thornqvist)," Will recalls. "He was out of town, but as soon as I left the unofficial I got a call from Roland saying he was going to be coming to my house to visit and to watch me play. Obviously he impressed me, and that was the night I verbally committed; if I went to school, Florida would be where I'd be going."
The Florida coaches were not the only ones trying to convince Will to join the Gators, who lost to SEC rival Georgia in the round of 16 at this year's NCAAs. Lauren Embree, who committed to Florida last November, also played a role in Will's decision.
"She's actually part of the reason I chose Florida," says Will, who beat Embree in the girls 16s Orange Bowl championship match back in 2006. "Once I started getting more interested in it, we used to talk all the time about Florida. She'd say, 'you've got to come, we could play doubles, it would be amazing'. She's a really great player and one of the best competitors I've ever seen. She really loves to work hard, so being a teammate of hers will only help my game."