AUBURN, Ala. – Checking her phone after Auburn’s dramatic comeback victory in the second round of the NCAA Tournament advanced the Tigers to the Sweet 16, george axon read a text from her parents.
“They thought it was quite amusing,” Axon said, noting the symmetry of her collegiate tennis career.
As a freshman in 2017, Axon clinched Auburn’s Sweet 16 appearance with a singles victory vs. Florida State. Five years later, on the same court, she won her singles match to help the Tigers overcome a 3-1 deficit vs. Georgia Tech.
“That’s very neat and déjà vu-ey,” Axon said.
Much has changed during Georgie’s six seasons on the Plains.
Then a 17-year-old freshman, Axon’s commitment to proper fueling has come a long way since her first season.
“We laugh now,” she recalled. “I had Sour Patch Kids and a Sprite before one of the matches. I’m not doing that anymore. We’re definitely making sure we hydrate five days before and getting good sleep.”
Hydration will be especially important this week when No. 14 Auburn plays No. 3 Texas in Austin Friday at noon CT.
“It’s my sixth year and I’ve never played Texas,” Axon said. “The fact that they are reigning champs, it’s a great opportunity for us. We work really hard for these types of opportunities.”
Axon missed the 2018-19 season after having back surgery. When the pandemic prematurely ended her redshirt junior season in 2020, she had the option of returning for an extra season in 2022.
“I didn’t not feel ready to put down the rackets,” Axon said, after a 2021 second-round loss to Florida State. “I’ve definitely not regretted my decision, now going at least one step further. What we’ve done this year has been pretty incredible. I kind of saw that coming and I really wanted to be a part of it.”
“I was thrilled when she made that decision,” Auburn coach Caroline Lilley said. “We’re absolutely thrilled to have her as our leader.”
At the 2022 AUSPY Awards in April, Axon received the Inspiration Award for coming back from an injury, surgery and recovery that kept off the courts for a year.
“I think about all the hours that were put in and all the people who helped me to get where I am today,” Axon said after receiving the award at Neville Arena. “I’m glad I could inspire someone with my story.”
Axon thanked Auburn Athletics’ sports medicine staff for facilitating her comeback from an injury she says she was structurally predisposed to experience, one exacerbated by a lifetime of back rotations while practicing and playing tennis.
“With Auburn Athletics behind me, and my team behind me, the boundaries were not there anymore,” she said. “Even as a normal person, it may have happened at 40, but because of all the tennis I’d done, it happened at 20.
“I see it as a good thing because I did all my rehab at Auburn Athletics. They told me what I had, what I needed to do for the rest of my life, what’s going to take care of it, what’s going to make it worse, what’s going to make it better. They definitely set me up for life.”
Axon maximized her time at Auburn, on the court and in the classroom, where she earned an MBA from Auburn University’s Harbert College of Business. She’s played half of her Auburn career under Lilley’s leadership of her.
“From the moment I set foot on this campus, Georgie’s been the most consistent kid we’ve had,” Lilley said. “She’s incredibly hard-working, she’s incredibly disciplined. She gives a ton to her team and expects very little in return, and that’s why she’s such a great leader.”
Six years, two degrees, two trips to the Sweet 16. For Auburn’s george axon, her Auburn tennis career ends how it began, with one exception. The candy and soda will have to wait until after the match.
— Jeff Shearer (@jeff_shearer) May 9, 2022
Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: @jeff_shearer