At the age of one, most babies walk their first steps. And usually at age three, a toddler’s biggest accomplishment is becoming potty-trained. Fabian Matthews excelled even as a child. The pure Argentinian swung his first tennis racket at the age of three and from then on, his talent continued to develop. After six months, Matthews and his family moved from Argentina to Newport Beach, California, but this senior still speaks Spanish fluently. Although his dad was a soccer player, he decided to pick up a tennis racket rather than soccer cleats for his son.
“My dad just gave me a racket and I went out and just started hitting,” Matthews said. “I guess I just had a talent for it.”
The word talent is an understatement. Matthews has had a very successful career here at UCI. He is now the first ’Eater in the program’s history to win an Athlete of the Week (AOTW) award in each of his four seasons on the team. For the past three years, he has been named All-Big West First Team in his singles play as well. Moreover, Matthews has just upped his national ranking to No. 73, making him the Anteaters’ top player. So what is his secret to success?
“I don’t cut my nails the night before a match; I can’t do it,” Matthews revealed.
Matthews was not always in the No. 1 spot. He had to work his way to the top and prove to his coach that he had the talent. From freshman year, Matthews had to earn his No. 1 spot after being in the No. 6 spot. He hit a slight speed bump as a sophomore when he pulled a muscle in his arm, ending his season early and delaying his following season.
“It definitely motivated me to come back and prove that I wasn’t washed up and I still had the talent,” Matthews said.
Although Matthews shines as an individual, the ’Eaters remain unranked. Matthews described last year’s team as “insane,” as they were ranked No. 34 in the nation, the best they had ever been in his four-year college career. This year, the team is just working towards building up the program once again.
Matthews has been with the program for four years now, and each year his role has changed as he moves up the food chain. As expected, he now has to set an example being a senior on this very young team. He has gone from being the goofy junior on a dominating team to a leading senior on a developing team.
“Fabian is an inspiration to the team,” freshman Shuhei Shibahara said. “He ties the team together, doing whatever it takes to win the match and pump up everyone during and after matches.”
People often say that what we do shapes who we are, and Matthews can attest to this. He believes that tennis defines who he is today and his whole life revolves around this sport. But surprisingly, he does not watch tennis; he just lives to play.
Matthews hopes to continue with tennis and pursue a professional career. He explained that he will continue to play because making a career out of tennis would be “awesome.”