Note: The following appears in the Florida State gameday football program. To purchase a copy of the program while supplies last, send a check for $7 to Clemson Athletic Communications; P.O. Box 31; Clemson, SC 29633 with your return address.
For Fernanda Navarro, tennis has always been a family affair. The Guadalajara, Mexico native got into the sport thanks to her father, who is a club tennis coach. He saw her potential from a young age, and with his early training, her career took off. After playing with his club, she moved to state and national tournaments before beginning a two-year stint of playing international tournaments.
And it was while she was playing in a tournament in Belgium that she heard about starting a journey with a new tennis family...the Clemson family.
“Our assistant coach at the time was Mexican, and she saw that I was playing in the national tournament in Belgium, so she went there and saw me play,” remembered Navarro.
“She told me about Clemson, and I visited and fell in love with it. I loved everything. The campus is really nice, and I loved the lake and how full of nature it is. The people are really nice, too, and the facilities and all the support we have for sports are amazing.”
While she initially wasn’t sure she wanted to attend college, it has been the perfect fit for Navarro, because she has still been able to play tennis at a high level while enjoying the experience of having a team family, something she was missing playing individual tournaments overseas.
“The competition is high level here,” she said. “Also, I definitely like having the team aspect that we have in college. I like having the team’s support and having your coaches to go talk to, as well as all the people who come out and support you.”
But the family aspect is not the only thing that Navarro has come to appreciate from her time as a Tiger, as she is excited to put her degree in language (french) & international trade to use after her tennis career is over. She believes that that career is only going to be lengthened because of the skills she has honed at Clemson.
“At first, I didn’t want to come. I didn’t think college was for me, and I just wanted to keep playing tennis. But I gave it a chance and came here, and I loved it.
“This is something that everyone should look for. Some tennis players are like I was and think that coming to college is a waste of time, but it’s absolutely not.
“It’s totally the opposite. You can earn your college degree and you get so much more out of it because of the great coaches and staff. You learn so much more from life being in college than playing individual tournaments at the professional level. It’s totally worth it to come here.”
So worth it, it feels like a dream.
“I want to tell the Clemson family that they’re awesome,” added Navarro. “I love it. I want to thank them for everything they do for us and the program. They make the experience really good. I think this is the best experience I’ve ever had in my life.
“I’m living a good life right now. This is like a dream. It can be hard, but my Clemson family makes it easier.”