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Embree, Gullickson Floridians at French

May 22, 2009 07:00 AM
The former No. 1 Williams sisters, with Serena seeded No. 2 and Venus No. 3, remain Florida's largest presence at the French Open which begins Sunday, but a couple Sunshine State up-and-comers also have hopes during the next fortnight on the crushed red brick in Paris.

Marco Island's 17-year-old Lauren Embree earned a French Open wildcard by winning the USTA wildcard tournament, beating out of remainder of the U.S.'s up-and-coming talent, a surprise even to her.

"It's actually really shocking that I'm in this situation," Embree told the Naples News. "It just kind of hit me when I was playing in the tournament, I kept winning and advancing and eventually I won."

Unfortunately Embree's draw wasn't kind, as she will debut at Roland Garros against No. 11-seeded Russian Nadia Petrova.

"I guess if I had to pick someone that I'd like to face it would be one of the Williams sisters," Embree said prior to the draw. "I really wouldn't know what to do if I was going up against one of them, though."

Former Florida resident and U.S. Fed Cup player Bethanie Mattek-Sands will have to figure out what to do when she opens against Venus in the first round. Mattek-Sands will look to improve on her only previous meeting against the elder Williams sister, winning only one game in a brief encounter at Wimbledon in 2006.

Palm Beach Gardens resident Carly Gullickson successfully made it through the qualifying to the main draw on Friday, and will face Romania's Sorana Cirstea in her opener.

Other Americans in the draw are Pennsylvania's Uzbekistan-born Varvara Lepchenko, and former University of Florida product Jill Craybas, who now resides in California along with Alexa Glatch, who starts against No. 14 seed Flavia Pennetta.

A US Open appearance can provide a big confidence boost for a young player. The 19-year-old Glatch last year qualified for her fourth US Open main draw appearance, then later in October won back-to-back ITF events.

"The US Open was big for me," Glatch told USTA.com. "I had my best results [this year] in Indian Wells, getting to the third round, beating Suarez Navarro -- that was pretty exciting. Then in Miami, as well, getting to the second round and getting to play Serena -- that was pretty cool. It has just kind of been coming together."

Venus and Serena Williams are in opposite sides of the draw and could meet in the final.
 

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