LINCOLN PARK — DePaul junior Patricia Fargas has never tired of playing tennis.
Her father, former ATP pro and Spanish Davis Cup player Lorenzo Fargas, said even when Patricia was a child, she had to be pried off the court.
"Because from a very young age, I could see how competitive she was and also how much determination she had. We could be there for hours, she would never get tired," said Lorenzo Fargas, head coach of Sanchez-Casal Academy in Barcelona. "I knew she would be a great player."
Justin Breen introduces DNAinfo Radio listeners to Patricia Fargas and her love of tennis:
Fargas, 20, recently was named Most Outstanding Player at the Big East tournament, which the Blue Demons (22-3) won to advance to Friday's NCAA tournament first-round match against Notre Dame in Evanston.
Fargas finished the Big East tourney 6-0 to up her singles record to 26-13 and doubles mark to 20-6.
"But I don't look at my record and stuff like this; I just play," she said.
Growing up in Spain as the youngest of four children, Fargas said she was always driven to prevail, whether at cards or board games or with her tennis racquet.
"I always had to fight harder to win," she said.
That mentality has carried into her college career. In 18 years as DePaul's head coach, Mark Ardizzone said Fargas was among "the top three most competitive kids I've ever coached."
"She brings that fierceness every day," said Ardizzone, of Portage Park. "She's brought that feistiness to our program. She's the spiritual leader of our program."
Ardizzone finds many of his players during recruiting trips to Europe, but Fargas sort of fell into his lap.
During her senior year of high school — in which was named valedictorian of Schiller International School in Barcelona — Fargas made an official recruiting trip to Northwestern, and Ardizzone found out through European sources she also would be stopping by DePaul to check out the campus. Ardizzone then filled out paperwork to make the DePaul visit official as well.
After Fargas returned to Europe, she competed in a tournament in Spain where a friend of Ardizzone's, coach Izo Zunic, was in attendance. Zunic saw Fargas play, called Ardizzone and told her to "offer her a scholarship right away," Ardizzone said.
"I called her the next morning," Ardizzone said. "She was one of my luckiest recruits ever."
She also has been one of the best. In three seasons, Fargas is 72-39 in singles competition and 61-32 in doubles. She also is the only DePaul women's tennis player to ever advance to the semifinals of the ITA Midwest Regional twice in her career.
Fargas "loves" Chicago in part because it reminds her of Barcelona, with a nice downtown and lots of culture. The DePaul campus mimics the residential, traffic-filled area of Catalonia in which she lived.
Fargas is double-majoring in finance and economics. She hasn't figured out her future, although coaching isn't out of the picture. But Ardizzone said that career might be difficult for Fargas, who has been a captain for the last two seasons.
"When you're that competitive a player, it's hard to understand why others aren't as competitive as you are," he said. "She'd make good coach, but she'd have a hard time."
Beating the Irish would be an upset, but Fargas — who fires up her teammates by yelling in English and motivates herself with lower-toned Spanish — said having the right mindset would be key.
"I tell everyone that you need to work hard," she said. "If you work hard, then you're going to win."