Women in Sports - Fernanda Contreras
By Zac Ellis
When Fernanda Contreras was a junior in high school, she pulled out a pen and paper and jotted down a few must-haves in her ultimate college destination. Contreras was a top-50 tennis prospect in the nation and had garnered scholarship offers from a host of schools. But the Austin, Texas product knew what she sought most in her next four years.
Elite tennis? Check.
Small-school feel? Check.
“I looked at that list, and when it came down to it, Vanderbilt matched everything,” Contreras said. “Good city, good conference, good academics, the coaches were awesome.
“I just felt most comfortable at Vanderbilt and in Nashville. It was an easy decision to make.”
Contreras hasn’t looked back since arriving at Vanderbilt. Last season, she helped the Commodores win the SEC regular-season and tournament championship en route to a top-four NCAA tournament finish. Entering April, the junior is the fifth ranked singles player in the country with a 91-18 career singles record for No. 2-ranked Vanderbilt.
But Contreras has authored a well-rounded career at Vanderbilt, on and off the court. A mechanical engineering major, Contreras has participated in green energy projects in Nashville. She has also worked with Commodores’ coach Geoff Macdonald to kick-start a Hispanic outreach program in the area.
This summer, Contreras, a native of Mexico, will play for her home country in the Mexican Fed Cup team.
That’s part of a family lineage: Contreras’ grandfather, Francisco, competed with Mexico in the Davis Cup and was a two-time NCAA doubles champion at USC in 1955 and 1956. He also reached the semifinals at Wimbledon in mixed doubles during his pro career.
“I love hearing my grandfather talk about his tennis memories,” Contreras said. “He always says to enjoy it, because you never know when it’s going to end.