College is often the first place an athlete learns how to deal with disappointment.
Wichita State senior women’s tennis player Montse Blasco Fernandez stepped into the lineup as a freshman and earned All-Missouri Valley Conference honors. As a sophomore, she fell out of the lineup in the spring and played in only two MVC matches.
“It was hard mentally, because nobody wants to be on the bench,” she said. “I just needed to work harder and show coaches … I had to focus on my tennis and my conditioning.”
Blasco Fernandez, from Tarragona, Spain, talked with one of WSU’s sports psychologists. She improved her game at the net and grew more confident. She spent more time after practice and devoted herself to running, swimming and agility exercises to improve her conditioning.
“When you do not play, you are not as motivated,” she said. “You kind of put yourself down and you don’t want to do some extra or push yourself harder. I had to realize that was not the good way to go back to playing.”
She returned to the conference lineup as a junior and went 5-0 at No. 3 doubles for another All-MVC honor. This spring, she went 5-1 at No. 2 doubles in MVC matches with Rebecca Pedrazzi and 5-1 at No. 5 singles.
“We kind of got her down and she decided then that she was going to work harder than anyone else and give herself every opportunity to be successful,” coach Colin Foster said. “A lot of it was fitness and committing herself to putting in the extra work every day.”
Blasco Fernandez also puts in time away from the courts. She is one of 10 MVC athletes to earn the conference’s Leadership and Service Spring Award for helping at events such as the Prairie Fire Marathon, making meals at the Ronald McDonald House and mentoring third- and fifth-graders on Fridays at Cloud Elementary School. Blasco Fernandez, who carries a 3.76 grade-point average, was named to the MVC Scholar-Athlete team.
The Shockers are back in the NCAAs for the sixth consecutive season after winning the MVC Tournament. They play Oklahoma on Friday in Miami with the winner facing the winner of the match between host Miami and Boston. WSU hasn’t advanced in NCAA play since 2007 when it defeated South Carolina 4-3 before losing to Miami 4-0.
“Winning the conference tournament really gives us a lot of confidence,” Blasco Fernandez said. “Now we are going to play OU, a team we know really well. We want to see if we can get to the second round … that would be really nice after losing in the first round my first three years.”