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By Eva Fernández, a professional tennis player who won one gold and one bronze in the 2009 Mediterranean Games and reached 185 WTA.

The beginnings of the year were always complicated for me. After the preseason I felt physically ready, but I used to have lack of confidence due to the few games we played. Moreover, until I had some victories I did not have the security and full confidence in my game, especially after suffering injuries or during difficult moments in my career. But over the years I learned that I could not doubt, that I had to give the most of myself every day and trust that I would get there. It took me many years to learn it and I did not always manage it in a positive way, but I knew it was the only way to regain confidence.

In youth categories, I was champion of Catalonia, of Spain and Gradignan, which was considered the European. I remember that at that time I practically did not think, I just enjoyed tennis facing it always in a very competitive way. Until I was 16 years old when I went professional. I bet everything for tennis, I began to study at a distance and I went to live in Barcelona. It was a big change for me and it was then when my first doubts began. I used to put the result ahead of everything and began to feel the pressure. At that time, tennis was the centre of my life. Between the injuries and the bad results, it was so hard on a personal and professional level that I did not see myself regaining my game and I did not want to continue.

“I put the results

on the sidelines and

enjoyed playing again”

Fortunately, after a slight break, I was lucky enough to meet a coach who taught me to relativize. I am and I will be eternally grateful. With him, I saw tennis again as a game, as it is, a sport. Being aware that many personal decisions can affect my athletic performance, but without it being absolutely the centre of my life. That’s when I put the results on the sidelines and enjoyed playing again. And naturally, I got my game back.

Tennis Eva win

Already in the professional stage, in the difficult moments, when I had lack of confidence by injuries, by bad results or by the beginning of the season, I always focused on regaining the passion for tennis. I tried to enjoy playing again, forgetting the results and setting goals to improve. My goal was to reach achievable short-term goals that could be applied in matches. If I could apply them, regardless of the result, I was satisfied. The best thing of all was that, in the great majority of times, if I managed to apply the improvements, I also managed to win the game. Therefore, the victories no longer gave me the confidence (obviously they were a plus), but the fact of applying my game and all the hard work done. There were not always immediate results, but I knew they would appear if I focused in the long term.

“In the beginning, I experienced

each mistake as a

failure and a frustration”

Although I also struggled to learn it, over the years I learned to accept my mistakes. The tennis players have to make decisions almost every second and almost every week we lose a game. In the beginning, I experienced each mistake as a failure and a frustration, but over time I managed to see it as a new challenge and as a new opportunity to improve.

A clear example of this change was in 2009. Until that moment I was still pursuing that vision and followed a fairly conservative game. A game that allowed me to win games and be around 300 WTA, but that did not allow me to take another jump among the best. I knew that to be among the best, I had to be much more aggressive playing while not applying my solid base. It was the only way. I tried not to focus so much on my limitations and strengthen my strengths. Applying changes to my game at that age, in which I was already very well trained, was not easy. But I believed in it and every day I focused solely on doing it better than the previous one. And so, the results did not take long in coming.

That year, in July, the Mediterranean Games were disputed. I arrived after a very good start of the season and after winning two $ 25,000 tournaments in a row. Despite the victories, I arrived with some physical doubts for a micro-fiber fracture in the quadriceps done the week before the competition. In the Games, I started with victories, both in singles and doubles. But the semifinals of both modalities were approaching, the most complicated and at the same time the most decisive matches.

Tennis mediterranean Games

In the individual, I had a very physical game and after 3 hours I could not overcome the Italian player. But, in one way or another, I had to stay positive because in the afternoon I played double with my partner Laura Pous to qualify for the final. I forgot the individual match and focused on the doubles. We played the semifinal and we won it. We had achieved it, we had secured the medal! Despite the satisfaction we felt, we did not want to settle.

The next day I played for the bronze in individuals. I was not feeling physically great, so I could not play as aggressively as I had been playing. I was not comfortable, but despite that and that I had two match balls against, I kept fighting and trusting. And I got it, I won the bronze medal. It is difficult to explain, but the satisfaction was so great!

Despite that medal, my participation in the Mediterranean Games was not over. There was the final of doubles. I was very tired but the previous match gave me extra confidence. Although we had a hard game ahead, with two experienced doubles, we played an excellent game and won the gold. The satisfaction at that moment was enormous, especially for sharing it with my great friend and companion Laura. At that time, I saw all the work done until then, rewarded. A sacrifice that, I promise you, is worth suffering. That was one of the best moments of my life and without a doubt my best sports year. At the end of 2009, I reached my best ranking of 185 WTA.

“In sport, the most important

thing is to try to be

happy while playing”

Now, already withdrawn and looking back, I keep everything the sport gives us. The passion, the spirit of self-improvement, the motivation, the capacity for sacrifice and, also, for acceptance and improvement. I keep all the satisfaction moments of when things went well, but also all the difficult moments in which, in one way or another, I managed to give the maximum of myself. I take everything I learned and I try now to transmit it to my environment.

I want to tell to all the young tennis talents, and from any other discipline, that in sport, the most important thing is to try to be happy while playing. When we enjoy our passion, the results end up coming. To conclude, I want to make a request: never forget that first, we are people and then athletes.

Gold medal tennis Mediterranean Games