AUBURN, Ala. - They’re a team that fits. Going into their second consecutive year of doubles together, Emily Flickinger and Pleun Burgmans are well on their way to being the No. 1 doubles team in the country.
A year ago, the duo has advanced to the semifinals of the NCAA Championships, and this season the tandem has already defeated three top-10 teams and most recently earned a second-straight ITA Regional Championship. Burgmans, Flickinger and Auburn head coach Lauren Longbotham Meisner know that this is a pair that delivers success.
Doubles teams are often shuffled each season, but Meisner has decided to keep this team together after they tied for the second-most single-season wins in school history in 2014 and advanced the farthest of any Auburn team in history at the NCAA Championships.
“Keeping [Pleun and Emily together] this year was easy,” Meisner said. “You go to the Final Four of the NCAAs and you’re going to start off [paired together] that way.”
The duo worked together briefly in the fall of 2012, but were split up for the spring season and paired up again in Fall 2013, when they earned the best record on the team and showed success against nationally-ranked teams. From that point on, their game has continued to evolve and grow—originally, Burgmans was the strength on the baseline and Flickinger the strength at the net, but now they are both powerful on all ends of the court.
“That’s what makes really good doubles teams. You don’t see a whole lot of holes,” Meisner said. “They both contribute to both the net and the baseline, and then they both have great serves.”
This success and advancement is leading into another exciting year. After their thrilling victories playing nationally ranked teams and winning back-to-back USTA/ITA Regional titles, the duo has a closer relationship and a new confidence on the court.
“I think we realized what our potential is now.” Burgmans said. “The first year I had no idea. …how good we could be.” Flickinger says finishing her partner’s sentence.
Spending a so much time on the court together in matches and in practice means knowing each other’s triggers. Each one can see when the other is upset, frustrated or nervous and know how to build each other up. This is also part of what makes them so successful.
The chemistry between Burgmans and Flickinger is key, according to Meisner. They are each talented with their ground strokes, and together, their mental game has gotten stronger. They know how to lift each other up both physically and mentally.
The pair agrees that their strong relationship has contributed to their success.
“I’m never worried when she’s at the net or when she’s back or anything. …I just have confidence in her, always,” said Flickinger.
“I think we’re very similar, both at the baseline and at the net,” Burgmans agreed. “We don’t miss a lot; we know what to do on important points.”
These important points are going to continue to come with the teams’ maintained success. Now that they know their potential after their performance in the NCAA Championships, they are looking forward. Reaching the semifinals in the NCAA tournament has set a new standard for the two and for the program.
“Going to the semifinals at NCAAs [last season], we could set a goal for ourselves to win it now,” Burgmans said.
“We thought it was amazing to make it that far, and now we expect to make it that far,” Flickinger agrees, “We know we have to work for it, but we expect to do it. It’s not going to be a surprise this year like it was last year.”
Meisner said with all the success comes continued room for improvement —Burgmans and Flickinger know that and are ready to work to reach their goal.
“You’ve got to keep wanting it as bad as you did the first time,” Meisner said.
For more information on Auburn Women's Tennis, visit AuburnTigers.com, follow the team on Twitter, @AuburnWTennis or follow them on Facebook at Facebook.com/AuburnWTennis.