On The Plains with Carolyn Ansari: “Born into it”


Long before fifth year senior Carolyn Ansari arrived on The Plains in the fall of 2019, she was destined for a life in the sport of tennis. Growing up in her hometown of Greensboro, North Carolina, Ansari was born into a family with a love of tennis. So much love that she and all six of her siblings picked up the sport from a young age.
"We are a big tennis family," said the Auburn senior. "All of my siblings played so I was kind of born into it. Our dad would take us to hit on the ball machine no matter what day it was, we'd always go to the courts in the morning and he would feed us balls or we would hit with each other.
"I think my brother, Austin, really helped me. He helped me know what it's like to work hard, to have a goal and to go for it. He was kind of a role model for me since I was young."
Austin Ansari later played tennis for four seasons at Clemson University from 2013-2016, but Carolyn decided to make her mark with a different set of Tigers further south.
Ansari has solidified herself as one of the most accomplished women's tennis players in program history, and her game only improved during her time on The Plains. After her freshman season was cut short due to the COVID pandemic in 2020, Ansari was named to the SEC All-Newcomer team and second team All-SEC in 2021 before earning first-team All-SEC honors each of the next three seasons.
Ansari had a breakout season in 2023, earning the ITA Southern Region's Senior Player of the Year and Most Improved Senior awards after posting a 21-16 overall singles record with nine wins over ranked opponents.
At the 2023 NCAA Singles Championship, Ansari picked up two wins including the highest ranked win of her career, a 2-6, 7-6 (6), 6-3 win over fifth-ranked Alexa Noel, to make the round of 16. Her teammate, Ariana Arseneault, also qualified for the round of 16 which automatically earned both players ITA Singles All-American honors. The pair became the third and fourth singles All-Americans in program history.

During her time at Auburn, Ansari has been a part of two NCAA Super Regional appearances and four NCAA Tournament appearances. However, memories from a non-conference weekend sticks out the most in her mind.
"My favorite memory that I can always think back to and just laugh is when we went to Central Florida for ITA Kickoff Weekend and were playing Arizona State in the first round," said the four-time All-SEC selection. "It was super windy and cloudy. We lost the doubles point fast and then we were all getting crushed in our first sets. Then in the second set, half of us were down 3-0 or 4-1. Simultaneously, we all started to come back and we won. The next day we played UCF just crushed them to qualify us for National Indoors. It was the best trip with a lot of laughs."
In that match against the Sun Devils in 2022, the Tigers overcame a 2-0 deficit to win four singles matches in three sets, including Ansari who won 1-6, 7-6 (5), 6-1. The next day's victory over UCF punched the program's first ticket to the ITA National Team Indoor Championships since 2018.
Aside from all of the great moments on the court, Ansari claims that her favorite memory off the court came during her first semester on campus when she got to experience an Iron Bowl at Jordan-Hare for the first time.
"My favorite memory off court was the 2019 Iron Bowl," Ansari said. "We played Alabama at home and we won so that was super fun. Definitely one of the best Iron Bowls I've been to so far and the stadium was packed. Selin [Ovunc] and my other teammate were with me and we spent time getting ready and I remember being super excited because it was our first Iron Bowl."
Ansari, who reached a singles career-high ranking of sixth in the nation during the 2024 season, credits Auburn for providing her the resources to succeed and preparing her for life after collegiate tennis.
"Auburn has prepared me personally and athletically," said the 2023 All-American. "Being a student-athlete, you have to have really good time management, discipline and motivation. I think it'll carry over well after graduation. I want to play professional tennis, so being able to come to practice motivated, determined and to give it 100% every day will serve me well."
The plan for the Auburn senior is to play professionally. Inspired by the medical professionals that have helped her during her athletic career, she is completing her degree in physical activity and health with a minor in business and has expressed interest in physician's assistant or physical therapy school later down the road. Even with all of the excitement about her future, Ansari will miss being around Auburn.
"Auburn has given me so much. They always have an answer for everything. Whether you're sick, you're injured or you need something, they provide so much for you. Wellness is amazing. Having to cook for myself, that will be something new!
"The campus is super pretty, too. I know sometimes when I drive and there's a clear sky, I'm like, 'man, Auburn's just so pretty'. I could see myself living in Auburn with a family one day for sure."