Live to Fight Another Day

May 13, 2013

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By Mike Garabedian

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - A key member of the UCF men's tennis team, Francesc Aulina was the squad's most efficient player during the 2012-13 season. While he was impressive for the Knights all year, the native of Barcelona, Spain, is just happy to be back playing the game he loves after an accident almost took away his life.

On the last day of 2011, Aulina was driving with two of his friends to the mountains of Andorra in Europe for a skiing trip. On his way, he was involved in a horrific accident that steered him down a journey he is still fighting to recover from.

"I woke up from a coma seven days later and all I remembered was skidding on ice, losing control and hitting a bus," Aulina said. "After that, I couldn't recall anything. Thankfully, we all lived."

Aulina spent six weeks in the hospital and was forced to miss the spring semester of his sophomore year at UCF. He battled past numerous surgeries to repair a broken arm, hip, fibula, tibia, ruptured spleen and aching knee. Even though he lost 28 pounds and had to rehabilitate for a significant period of time, Aulina was determined to return to the tennis court.

"As soon as I woke up, I told my parents that I want to play tennis again and go back to UCF," Aulina said. "I am going to work hard and rehab everyday so I could continue to do what I love."

Kiku, as his teammates call him, spent the spring in his hometown. Seniors Mario Samson and Jorge Blasco kept in touch with their teammate through Skype and Facebook. They made posters and a video with signs of encouragement to remind Aulina to feel better and hurry back to Orlando.

Determined to play tennis again, the sophomore rehabbed every day to try and build muscle in his legs. Four months of long and tiresome workouts later, Aulina was granted permission to play tennis. His first time on the courts, he struggled but was excited to be back running and playing again.

"Coming back to college gave me the motivation to battle the injuries and return to the courts," Aulina added. "My family, girlfriend and friends were supporting me everyday by coming to the hospital and cheering me on."

Aulina was granted a medical redshirt and six months later he was back at UCF. In fall of 2012, Aulina played his first competitive tennis in a year. After every practice, he felt discomfort in his hip and knee but continued to fight through the pain. On Nov. 3, Aulina won a decisive 7-5 third set at the USTA Clay Court Invitational in Disney against Tulsa's Tristan Jackson to celebrate his first victory since the accident.

"Kiku has overcome a great deal of adversity, after almost dying in a severe car accident," UCF head coach Bobby Cashman said. "He brings an element of toughness to the team after recovering from a couple of surgeries and having a steel rod put in his right leg. He chose to come back and play. He had to put in many hours in rehab to come back and play at this level. He still is not at full strength but should be closer by the fall."

After returning when many thought his career was in jeopardy, Aulina continues to be an inspiration for his teammates after defying odds and exceling this season.

The finance major has two years of school remaining but has begun focusing on his future. Aulina hopes to either pursue his master's degree or obtain a job in the business sector following graduation.

"After what happened, you get confident that you could get better and do anything regardless of the obstacles," Aulina said. "I believe that if you set a goal and work hard for it, you can achieve it."

This story appears in the May issue of Knights Insider magazine. The publication, which is published six times per year, provides an inside look at UCF student-athletes, coaches and alums. To order the magazine,