Interview: Lauren Embree on Becoming a Pro Tennis Player
As a teenager, Lauren Embree stood at the top of the junior tennis rankings. She made her debut on the United States Tennis Association (USTA) Pro Circuit at the age of 16. The Florida native played Division I tennis at the University of Florida, where she helped lead the Gators to four straight SEC tournament titles and national championships in 2011 and 2012. Last year, she was the No. 1-ranked collegiate player in the country, going undefeated during the regular season before her post-season came to an unexpected close with a loss to eventual national champion Nicole Gibbs.
Since that loss, things have been looking up again for Embree. Just two months after finishing her college career, she won her first title as a full-time professional, a $10,000 International Tennis Federation (ITF) event in Fort Worth, Texas. She also recently signed with a new sponsor, Athletic DNA. The 22-year-old Embree sat down with STACK to talk about her young career, her new endorsement and how she stays in shape.
STACK: What is your training regimen like nowadays?
LE: I practice usually in the morning with my coach for about an hour to an hour and a half, followed by an afternoon session, which is usually a match. I'll do serves and returns if I had a match in the morning, or some more live ball drills with someone for about an hour and a half to two hours. After that I work on my fitness, which involves plyometrics, weights or footwork drills for an hour.
STACK: What about your diet?
LE: I live a normal, healthy lifestyle. My diet is not too specific. I just try and eat healthy, regular balanced meals, a lot of protein, fruit and vegetables, etc.
STACK: Who's coaching you now that you're a pro?
LE: I traveled a lot this summer with Dustin Taylor, Lee Taylor Walker and West Nott, and the [USTA] college team. They really helped me out a ton this summer, and I had such a fun time traveling with the girls on the team as well as the coaches. I am currently in Miami with Julie Steven, who has been working with me since before I went to college. I am also going to continue to work with and travel some with Dustin Taylor from the USTA in the fall. He has been so supportive and helpful to me in the transition onto the tour.
STACK: How did your sponsorship with Athletic DNA come about?
LE: I was familiar with Athletic DNA and knew they had a men's line. When Dustin Taylor told us that they would be sponsoring the USTA college team, I became really interested in the women's line. Then Julie, my coach in Miami, knew Evan Zeder [Athletic DNA's VP of Tennis] and got me in contact with him. After talking to Evan, it just seemed right to be a part of the ADNA family. They really care about your development as a tennis player, and everything he told me seemed to fit my goals as well. They have been so great to me in this short time, and I am really excited to represent this brand.
STACK: So what are your goals for the next year?
LE: Well, since I am fresh out of college and still trying to transition into the pro tour, my main goal is to enjoy the process. It's very different from college, so I am working on getting better, stronger and [improving] little things with my tennis game. But I'm really enjoying the traveling and the experiences I had this summer. I am looking forward to the fall tournaments coming up.
Follow Lauren Embree's travels in professional tennis @lembree888