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Florida College Player Profile: NCAA Champ Danielle Collins

June 2, 2014 12:37 PM
CollinsUSTAFlaBy Colette Lewis, USTA Florida junior tennis columnist, www.zootennis.com

A blue chip throughout her junior career with three USTA gold balls in the 18s division, Danielle Collins could not have anticipated her forgettable freshman year at the University of Florida.

Playing low in the Gators' lineup, Collins did not make the NCAA tournament singles field in 2013, but 12 months later, as a sophomore at the University of Virginia, she won the title, defeating fellow Floridian Lynn Chi of Cal 6-2, 7-5 in the championship match, played at the University of Georgia's Dan Magill Tennis Complex.

The 20-year-old from St. Petersburg, who was unseeded in the 64-player field, had played at the No. 2 singles position for the Cavaliers this spring, and although she called winning the NCAA title "shocking," Virginia head coach Mark Guilbeau was less surprised.

"The last half of the season, I could see," said Guilbeau, in his ninth season at Virginia. "Who knows who's going to win the NCAA title, but I could see that Danielle could beat just about anyone, and would probably be one of the toughest kids to beat as well."

Collins defeated three seeds en route to the final, including No. 2 seed Robin Anderson of UCLA, crediting Guilbeau with providing the advice she needed both on and off the court.

"He's been working a lot with me on serves, stepping into the court and playing a little bit bigger tennis," Collins said. "He says a lot of really good stuff, has a lot of positive energy."

Down 5-3 in the second set against Weston's Chi, a friend from the Florida junior circuit, Collins won the final four games of the match from the unseeded sophomore to claim the Virginia program's first NCAA title.

"Once I got down I just got really angry," Collins said. "I was like, okay, let's get it together, let's step it up and I just really got on a roll."

As an American NCAA champion, Collins is likely to receive a main draw wild card into the US Open in August, but she has no plans to turn pro.

"There's a lot more I want to accomplish during my time at UVA," Collins said. "We still haven't won the team championship, and that's something I hope I can help my team do, sooner rather than later. I think there's a lot more that needs to be accomplished and I believe Mark and Troy (associate coach Porco) can help me to develop more as a player, staying in college for the time being."

Time Warp: Danielle Collins at the 2009 USTA Florida 'Bobby Curtis' Junior State Championships






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