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'It's been remarkable' - Auburn women's tennis hosts first NCAA Regional
May 3, 2016

<em> Auburn's women's tennis team watches NCAA tournament pairings on TV.</em>
Auburn's women's tennis team watches NCAA tournament pairings on TV.

By Jeff Shearer

AUBURN, Ala - Lauren Spencer really doesn't like surprises. Auburn's women's tennis coach did the math. She knew 16 teams get to host NCAA first and second-round matches. She knew her Tigers were ranked No. 10.

Still, that didn't stop Spencer from seeking to eliminate any drama prior to Tuesday's release of the tournament pairings.

"I kind of know some people in some high places," Spencer said with a smile. "I'm really bad at that (not knowing). I knew this morning.

"We were comfortable after the SEC tournament that we were in a good spot to host," she said. "We just didn't know which seed, or who we were going to get."

The No. 10 Tigers, seeded 11th in the NCAA Tournament, get Alcorn State Friday, May 13th, at 2 p.m. Should Auburn win, the Tigers will play either No. 22 Arizona State or No. 26 North Carolina State on Saturday, May 14th, at 1.

"We have never played any of these teams," Spencer said. "Someone fresh and new is pretty exciting."

On a team that competes in everything, it's no surprise that Auburn found a way to make a game of which teams would be coming to the Plains.

"We knew we were going to host, and we made a competition out of who we were going to get," said senior Pleun Burgmans. "But they were already in the first side of the draw."

"I think we have a really good draw and a really good chance to go to the Sweet 16," Burgmans said.

One reason for the subdued reaction? Limited information about Auburn's upcoming opponents.

"We don't know these teams," said senior Paula de Man. "And so you don't want to underestimate them. It's weird to be happy about playing teams you don't know.

"Are we happy we don't play SEC teams? Yes, but we already kind of knew that. So at this point, we don't want to underestimate anyone," de Man said.

Playing at home, the Auburn seniors say, is a milestone worth celebrating.

"That's amazing, but we've already had our excitement about that," de Man said. "We're having that every day preparing, knowing we don't have to travel, and we have that home advantage. We're hoping that a lot of people are going to come out, and make it an even bigger advantage."

"Hosting was definitely one of our goals, but we never really thought it would actually happen," Burgmans said. "But now we're here, it's really cool and we're really excited."

It's been a season of firsts for Auburn. First top 10 ranking. First time to host a regional. First time to finish in the top four in the SEC.

"It's been remarkable," Spencer said. "Once you get there, you have to start believing that you're as good as Florida. With every match that we've played, we've kept believing. I think they're not done yet. I think they have a lot of stuff in them that they want to prove."

"I think if we just keep doing what we've been doing all season, work hard, give everything you have out there, I think we have a good chance to go," Burgmans said.

Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twitter:



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