Florida Gators senior Lauren Embree was named the 2013 Southeastern Conference Player of the Year on Wednesday, becoming the first player in the history of the award to be honored with it three times in her career.
Embree, who was also named SEC Player of the Year in 2010 and 2012, is 39-0 for her career in singles matches during conference play. She is 17-0 overall this season and 10-0 against SEC opponents. Embree has also been a catalyst in the Gators winning eight total SEC Championships including four-straight SEC regular-season titles and four-straight SEC Tournament titles.
“It is really special to me,” Embree said in a school release. “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.”
Head women’s tennis coach Roland Thornqvist, who was named SEC Coach of the Year for the fourth time in the last 11 seasons, praised Embree just like he has throughout her entire career.
“Lauren deserves every award that you can give her,” he said. “The cool thing about Lauren is that she’s obviously an outstanding tennis player, but she is a tremendous team player. She not only plays for herself, but 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.”
Florida has held the SEC Player of the Year award for four-straight years as Allie Will was honored as the conference’s best player in 2011.
Embree has a penchant for clutch play, a distinction she earned after closing out the 2011 NCAA Championship for the Gators in a hard-fought match. She is hoping to lead Florida (22-2) to its third-straight national title this season.
Embree and junior teammate Sofie Oyen were also named to the All-SEC First Team. Junior Alex Cercone, junior Olivia Janowicz and freshman Brianna Morgan picked up Second Team honors, while Morgan was also named an SEC All-Freshman.