By Jeff Shearer
AUBURN, Ala - There's outgoing, and then there's life-of-the-party, Alizee Michaud outgoing.
"I'm really social," says Michaud, a sophomore on Auburn's women's tennis team. "It's tiring because I like everyone on campus. I knew everyone, in like, a week."
One might think she is exaggerating, on a campus with more than 27,000 students. Then again, maybe not.
"Ali is a crowd-pleaser," coach Lauren Spencer says. "She's very feisty on the court. She's very dramatic."
Auburn's coach is just getting warmed up with Ali adjectives.
"She is very loud. She is obnoxious," Spencer says. "She loves to dance. She keeps me entertained at all times. She will be the first to tell you she loves attention."
Michaud first caught Spencer's attention last year, when Ali, then a freshman at Stetson, defeated Auburn's Paula de Man in a third set tiebreaker at a tournament in Orlando.
"It was unbelievable," Spencer remembers. "And I thought to myself, and I told (assistant coach) Chris (Hooshyar), `I want this girl.' If she ever decides to transfer, I have to have her."
Playing No. 1 singles for Stetson, Michaud was 15-0, the Atlantic Sun Conference player of the year.
She began thinking about new mountains to climb. Back on the plains, Spencer had not forgotten.
"Time goes by, Chris and I had this joke, the whole year, `If you could get one transfer, who would you get? Who would be your dream transfer?' We both kept going back to, `That girl from Stetson.'"
Michaud narrowed her transfer options to Auburn and Florida State.
"We were on a trip and we get the email from her that she wants to transfer, and would we be interested in taking her?" Spencer says.
"I thought Chris was joking with me," she says. "Because he knew how much we'd been talking about it. We just really wanted this girl."
Michaud made up her mind. She would sign with.... Florida State.
"So I texted Chris and Coach (Spencer), and said, `Hey, I'm not coming to Auburn. I don't think so.' And it was at midnight, because I didn't want them to respond."
But respond they did, reaffirming their belief that Michaud would be a great fit at Auburn, but respecting her decision.
"And I slept on it and I woke up, and I said, `No, I need to go to Auburn.'"
"We pounced on it, big-time," Spencer says. "And we did everything we could to get her. And it ended up being great."
"I haven't regretted the decision ever since," Ali says. "They're awesome and they're really supportive. They're just a really good team. They make us feel like it's a family."
Michaud has fit right in, on the court and off.
Playing No. 1 and No. 2 singles, she is 19-5, 7-4 in the SEC, ranked No. 38 in the country.
"It's a really cool environment," Michaud says. "I've loved every minute on the court. I really like playing matches. I love the show."
Spencer paired Michaud in doubles with Pleun Burgmans, Auburn's all-time wins leader.
"We're a stark contrast," Ali says with a laugh. "She keeps me calm, and I fire her up."
"You have the one who is extremely stoic," Spencer says. "And then you have Ali. She's the feisty one. You've got the thunder and lightning scenario there, which is always fun to watch."
Michaud and Burgmans are 10-4, 9-4 in the SEC. They've been especially strong against ranked opponents, going 5-2.
"If we both have `on' days, we're pretty much unbeatable, I'd say," Ali says.
Born in France and raised in Orlando, where she was a state champion and the Florida High School player of the year, Michaud was coached by her father.
"She wants to be a big-time college tennis player," Spencer says. "That is a big goal for her. We want to create opportunities for her to be able to get that. At the same time, keeping her grounded and disciplined."
Michaud plans to complete her political science undergraduate degree in three years, then earn a master's before her Auburn career ends.
French is Michaud's first language, but her English is impeccable.
The only giveaway that would indicate Michaud's international upbringing is her lack of interest in football.
"I'm not American. I did not get it," she says. "I just went to the games to the wave the thing. I don't get football."
Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @jeff_shearer