The New Mexico women’s tennis team has an international flair, featuring players from four countries outside of the United States. One player from France had a particularly interesting journey on her way to New Mexico.
Ludivine Burguiere might stand out to some, when compared to the average tennis player. She frequently wears a headband to pull her hair back when she plays, but always has on a pair of compression calf sleeves to complement a bright pair of tennis shoes.
Though just part of the uniform, that careful planning and meticulous attention to detail are also some of the outstanding tennis qualities she possesses. However, it might also be something she focuses on off the court as well.
Head coach Kelcy McKenna said Burguiere has a strong sense of fashion. She said when the team was about to travel earlier in the season, everyone wanted “Ludi” to come to the closet and pick out their outfit.
“I would say that Ludi is one of...if not the most fashionable athletes I’ve ever been around,” McKenna said. “Her sister is actually a fashion designer.”
In addition to her sense of style, teammate Andrea Leblanc said Burguiere is a really good cook. Burguiere said she frequently cooks for the team, specializing in preparing crabs and crème brûlèe.
“Yeah, she’s super fancy in the kitchen,” Leblanc said.
Leblanc, a fellow transfer from Morehead State University, became roommates with Burguiere when the duo came to New Mexico. Burguiere said they were able to help each other adjust since they were going through the same situation, but she said everyone on the team was very welcoming.
“We were new, but nobody ever made us feel that way,” Burguiere said.
Leblanc said cooking and eating is one of many things the team does together. Burguiere said everyone gets along really well on and off the tennis court and both the men’s and women’s tennis team often hang out together, which she said makes it feel like a family.
She said they are more than just teammates and that the positive atmosphere took shape right away. It is something that may have been missing before transferring to UNM in the fall of 2015.
Burguiere said she began playing tennis as a 4-year-old girl, becoming really good by the age of 12. She said if she stayed in France, she would’ve had to choose between school and tennis — a choice she wasn’t ready to make.
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She began her college career at Virginia Commonwealth. Burguiere said she thought it was a good business school, which was her original major. She said it was a great experience, but eventually she needed a change.
Burguiere said it felt like there were two distinct cliques on the VCU tennis team, resulting in an environment with no persistent team spirit. Eventually she reached out to her agency and requested to transfer.
She said she spoke with Erika Perkins Jasper, the UNM head coach at the time with whom Burquiere said she had great beginning conversations. said both she and McKenna really listened and wanted to understand her situation.
“Ludi was an interesting one because she worked with an agency,” McKenna said. “We got to meet Ludi at the French Open. To have the opportunity to meet her on an international trip was interesting.”
Burguiere, a native of Marseille, France, met with the entire team at Roland-Garros, and McKenna said she started forging relationships with the women right away, which likely helped her decision to transfer to UNM.
Burguiere said she really enjoys New Mexico. She said although she is an avid skier, she has never done so here, partly because of the possibility of injury.
“I really like the culture, it’s really different,” she said. “It was amazing to discover something else.”
Although Burguiere said she’s enjoyed her time in the United States, she plans to return to France to pursue a master’s degree in sports management when her collegiate career is over.
Burguiere helped the women’s team fight all the way to the Mountain West Conference semifinals this spring before falling to UNLV 4-3.
She received Mountain West Player of the Week honors and was named one of the top 10 French players in college tennis by the Universal Tennis Rating system.
Burguiere has become one of the vocal leaders on the team and McKenna said they rely on her to lead by example. Things look bright next season as Burguiere returns for her final year of eligibility.
Robert Maler is a sports reporter for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers cross country, tennis, and track and field.