Before her senior season, Rocio Safont showed she belonged in Division 1 tennis.
The Burriana, Spain native, started her freshman year as she led the team in singles victories. The dominance continued as she tied for singles victories the next year in 2018-19. Before the coronavirus ended the 2019-20 season, she was off to another hot start.
During her 2021 campaign, she keeps adding to the list of reasons she was wanted by Charlotte and cementing her legacy in the process.
Although she's been a key contributor to the 49ers, her biggest accomplishment came on March 20 in a match against Charleston Southern. After tying the school record for the school's singles wins record the week before, Safont broke the record previously set by Kathy Robey with her 79th win in her career.
Safont beat the Buccaneers' Khyanna Singh 6-2, 6-3 to also give her team the lead 3-0. Charlotte would go on to win 5-2. The team win was the most important thing to the new school record holder.
"I remember finishing the match and my teammate Madison coming to me hugging me and saying, like, 'you did it,'" said Safont of her historic moment. "And I was like, wow, it's crazy. I'm so excited, but I asked how we were doing; we were still playing. So I was like, okay, how are we?"
As Safont has cemented herself in 49er history, her teammates are doing the same. The 49ers are 19-6 overall this season and spent time in the national rankings. Safont has helped in the singles categories this year with 16 wins.
She's been contributing to the team in more ways than one, both on the court and in the classroom. Safont has most notably been named to the Conference USA Academic Honor Roll three times. It's all about balance for the senior.
Safont had plenty of trophies before her days with the 49ers.
She was successful during high school at Salesianos San Juan Batista. In her Prep days, Safont won the U14 Babolat Cup in Valencia and the U15 and U16 OUATT Doubles World Final Tournaments in France.
But it was a time for a change after high school for Safont, and she also valued a good education on top of tennis when looking for a university home in the United States.
"One of the reasons that I came to the states is because of [education], because I couldn't play tennis and study in Spain, you have to kind of like choose either go to school or go pro, which is really hard," she said.
The transition from Spain to the States was daunting at first. Safont had options to play in the States, but Charlotte was the most welcoming for her, and all pieces fell in place.
"There were different coaches at the time, and I just talked to them. They seemed really nice," said Safont on choosing to come to the Queen City. "I liked them. And I just looked at the campus, and I think we have a beautiful campus. I fell in love with the campus from the first time I saw it."
Since Safont arrived, Charlotte has had a coaching change as Anthony Davison took over in June of 2018. Davison did not recruit Safont but has been impressed by her talent since Day one.
"This is a player that since I've been coaching here brings it every day, worked extremely hard. She's been made a captain because she leads by example," said Davison. "It's an it's a monumental achievement to be the wins leader for the program."
Safont has seen a change since the change and credits some of the team's newfound success to Davison.
"[Davison] came in and changed everything in a good way," said Safont. "We started working so much harder."
The 49ers have kept improving under the young coach as the team is on pace to win 20 matches for the first time since the 1990-91 season. With one match left, the 49ers still have the Conference USA tournament on their plate.
"I attribute a lot of this to the consistency over the year. Again, it's easy to look in the last couple of weeks at how things have been," said Davison on the season. "But you know, we've been focusing a lot on the sort of consistent behaviors the whole year."
Even though this season is nearing an end for Safont, she has elected to come back for one more season after the NCAA grated athletes an extra year of eligibility. She will have plenty of more time to add to her legacy with Charlotte.
Safont's best memories in a 49er uniform have come from this historic year, and she hopes to add to the memory bank in 2022.
"This team is so special, and we've grown so much as a team and program. We're so lucky to be part of this team," said Safont. And I feel so lucky. And I'm extremely grateful to come back for the year. It's amazing."