The red and yellow wristband that’s never left Fran San Andres’ side

Fran+San+Andres+hails+from+Madrid%2C+Spain.+%28Photo+courtesy+of+Marquette+Athletics.%29

Fran San Andres hails from Madrid, Spain. (Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

After four years of change for redshirt junior Fran San Andres, one thing has remained constant: a red and yellow wristband he wears on his right wrist.

San Andres is from Madrid, Spain and the red and yellow on his wristband resemble the Spanish flag.

“It’s given me good luck. I like to think of it that way,” San Andres said. “In four years I’ve never taken it off.”

The wristband can be seen in photos of San Andres donning the blue and gold in match, in the team photo that hangs from the rafters inside the Helfaer Tennis Stadium and Recreation Center on Marquette’s campus.

San Andres said the wristband was a gift from his family before he traveled over 4,000 miles to Milwaukee to play tennis collegiately as a token of remembrance.

That was until this year, when San Andres’ father came to check up on him after surgery at the end of January before coming back this past Wednesday with his mother to watch him play against Xavier and Butler Friday and Saturday, respectively. 

“It’s an amazing feeling,” San Andres said. “They haven’t seen me play in a while now cause I was always here (Milwaukee), but I think they’ve liked it so far.”

San Andres said he started playing tennis at the age of three while also playing soccer and basketball.

Despite choosing tennis over the others, his soccer and basketball skills can still be seen when he steps on a tennis court either when he’s juggling a tennis ball with his feet or bouncing the ball before a serve.

He said he first picked up a tennis racket to “have fun,” but it has turned into more than that.

“It was just to have fun and then I started competing when I was around 12 years old,” San Andres said. “I just fell in love since I was very young with tennis.”

As for continuing the love for the game after high school, San Andres said he had to leave his home country as there is no college tennis program in Spain.

“I didn’t want to stop playing tennis, I wanted to keep playing,” San Andres said.

That’s where Toni Gordon came into the picture for San Andres, who played for Marquette head coach Steve Rodecap when he was coaching at Texas Christian University.

“Thanks to him (Gordon) I got in touch with coach (Rodecap) and we just made it happen,” San Andres said.

San Andres said he came to Marquette with some expectations, which revolved around the game and in the classroom.

“I just wanted to get a good education and get as good as I possibly could in tennis,” San Andres said. “I think I’ve achieved both. I’m about to graduate now and think I’m playing my best level I’ve ever played now.”

As for his own expectations for San Andres, Rodecap said they were high.

“I knew he was going to be good,” Rodecap said.

Last spring during his redshirt sophomore season, San Andres went 12-2 overall in single matches and 7-2 within those matches in the No. 1 singles role which earned him All-BIG EAST First Team honors. 

Rodecap said that after being out about seven weeks earlier this season with a wrist injury, San Andres is back to playing as well as he did before the injury. Back to the same level where he could only be defeated twice in singles play.

“I told him yesterday (Friday) the level’s there,” Rodecap said. “If he had that COVID year that he lost and this year, full year, he’d end up being one of the best players to ever play here.”

However, before seeing any of this success and going from No. 6 singles to No.1 singles San Andres said he didn’t always see the court during BIG EAST matches in his first year.

“I remember my freshman year I wasn’t even playing in the lineup in BIG EAST (play),” San Andres said. “Then my junior year I went from not being in the lineup to playing one (singles) in BIG EAST (play).”

As for the reason for this, Rodecap said San Andres needed to mature.

“He had a lot of growing up to do,” Rodecap said. “The thing that’s really neat about seeing him today, four years later, is the amount of maturity that he’s gone through is light-years.”

San Andres said he has also seen himself mature and change throughout his time at Marquette.

“I’ve matured a lot. I’m a completely different guy from when I was a freshman,” San Andres said. “I think overall the experience playing with the team and living abroad and alone has given me a lot of maturity.”

This past weekend, San Andres had his senior day along with redshirt junior Shaddy Khalafallah.

“I’ve loved my four years here and I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” San Andres said.

Despite senior day being a thing of the past, the season isn’t over yet for San Andres and Marquette as the BIG EAST Tournament begins this Friday in Cayce, South Carolina.

Rodecap said the conference tournament will serve as an opportunity for San Andres to continue to leave his impact on the program.

“This year will decide a lot of that (San Andres’ impact),” Rodecap said. “If we can go down there and figure it out, I think that would mean a lot to Fran (San Andres).”

No matter what happens after he laces up his white Nike’s with the yellow swoosh for the last time, San Andres said he is going to continue to do what he loves all while wearing his red and yellow wristband.

“I’m going to still keep playing tennis,” San Andres said.

This article was written by Ben Schultz. He can be reached at benjamin.a.schultz@marquette.edu or on Twitter @benschultz52.