Pro Tennis Player and UF Microbiology Student Faces Challenges On and Off the Court

As the daughter of a two-time Super Bowl champion, Allie Kiick has been surrounded by impressive athletic accomplishments from a young age. Studying microbiology and cell science at the University of Florida via UF Online might seem a bit unexpected for an established professional athlete, but it was the surgical procedures throughout Allie’s professional tennis career that led to her academic interest in science.

“My mom always really wanted me to go to school, and I just think earning your college degree is such a huge accomplishment. To be able to say that I was an athlete while attending school, I think that’s something that’s really special to me.”


Allie first committed to UF as the top tennis recruit in the nation while completing her senior year of high school, but opted to play tennis professionally. She would reconnect with the Gator Nation prior to enrolling through UF Online via her tennis coach, winner of 11 Grand Slams and Gator Hall of Fame athlete, Lisa Raymond. “Lisa’s like family to me. I was introduced to her while training at the USA National Training Center. My coach at the time was very close to Lisa. We hit it off from the very beginning, and it’s been amazing ever since,” said Allie when speaking on training under Lisa’s guidance.

With over $575,000 in prize winnings, Allie says her athletic competitiveness gives her an academic drive in the classroom. “Growing up I wasn’t the best student because I always knew I wanted to be an athlete. As I got older, it was the competitiveness in me that wanted to be the best in every class I took. It’s extremely difficult because in tennis we travel internationally. Without flexibility I wouldn’t be able to go to school at all. There were times where I’d get behind, but at the end of the day the most important thing was making sure I practiced time management,” said Allie on being a professional athlete while earning her UF degree online.

Tennis is a pioneer for equal pay within sports. As Allie explains, “We get paid the same amount at Grand Slams, which are the four big tournaments. I feel like tennis is such a universal sport and people are genuinely interested in both the female and male players. You also have players like Serena. The Williams sisters in general are everywhere in advertising. Everyone knows who they are, even if you’ve never picked up a tennis racket. When you get amazing players like that, I think it helps the overall sport.”

“I always get to hear about how Lisa Raymond is a Gator Hall-of-Famer, and she’s never let me forget it!”


Allie admits people are often caught off guard when it comes to her choice of major, but her passion for medicine is nothing new. “My stepdad is an ear, nose, and throat doctor, and oddly enough I went through some knee surgeries and was just so intrigued by anesthesia. That was kind of a wake-up call. I realized I love medicine and would love to pursue something in medicine after my tennis career, so microbiology is kind of a standard major to choose when deciding to study medicine,” said Allie on selecting microbiology and cell science as her major.

With a career-high ranking of 126 in the world, Allie enjoys a rather successful career as a professional tennis player. It should come as no surprise that grueling training schedules and intense physical demands required Allie to undergo anesthesia for several surgeries. “They were a big wake-up call to remind me that I’m not invincible and my career can come to an end any day. I needed a cartilage implant from a cadaver. It wasn’t life-or-death surgery but basically without it my professional career would’ve been over effective immediately. Someone saved my whole career because they made the selfless decision to be an organ donor,” Allie said. Her career also experienced a temporary hold as she defeated Stage 2 skin cancer in 2015.

While considering schools like UCLA and Duke, a visit to UF’s Gainesville campus confirmed Allie’s decision to earn her bachelor’s degree from UF. “I verbally committed in high school. I knew I wanted to be there, and so when I didn’t actually enroll and turned pro, there was always this part of me that felt associated with UF. I think going back and earning my degree was kind of in line with the original plan,” said Allie on returning to fulfill her original commitment to UF.

“People retire when they’re in their mid-30’s, which is so young to retire. I wanted to be able to do something else with my life. I’d love to be a certified anesthesiologist assistant. That’s kind of my future pathway as of right now.”


Earning a degree can be daunting even for individuals with plenty of time on their hands. Allie acknowledges how UF Online’s resources played a big role in getting closer to graduation. “Dr. Sarah Doore is truly one of the greatest professors I have ever had in my life. She created a GroupMe and I just thought that was the coolest thing because usually most professors require a lengthy email process of communicating. I’ve never had an instructor who was so personal and really cared for their students. I’ve been very fortunate with the professors I’ve had. They’ve all been super understanding.”

When addressing concerns regarding the credibility of earning an online degree, Allie has a few words of advice for others. “I think people may be a bit hesitant about the word ‘online’ because it’s not what’s considered the norm. But I truly believe it’s been one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. For others, my advice would be to go for it, because it truly is an amazing experience.”

Allie currently has no plans to end her tennis career while earning her UF degree. “I’m going to continue playing tennis until my body breaks down. I’m hoping to have another six or seven years. I mean, when you look at the Williams sisters, they’re now in their 40’s! I’m going to play as long as I can because I love what I do. When my body tells me to stop, that’s likely when I’ll apply to a certified anesthesiologist assistant program.”

The University of Florida and UF Online commends students like Allie who seek opportunities to challenge themselves and grow both academically and professionally. From all of us here at UF Online, we wish Allie the very best as she continues to per-serve-ere and make the Gator Nation proud.


Master your passion for life on a microscopic and molecular level. Offered by the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UF’s Microbiology and Cell Science department equips students with the tools to succeed in further scientific studies or enter professional medical careers. To learn more about UF Online’s Microbiology and Cell Science program, visit the degree page or attending an upcoming virtual information session.