Lady Vols signee Marta Suarez still in Spain, waiting to join team

Will Backus
Knoxville News Sentinel

As the Tennessee women's basketball team continues through summer workouts, one of its players is still stuck overseas.

Marta Suarez, who signed with the Lady Vols on April 24, is unable to leave Spain because of travel restrictions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Tennessee resumed practices in a limited capacity in July.

A UT spokesperson told Knox News the plan still is to have Suarez join the Lady Vols for the fall semester, though there is no target date. Classes are set to begin on Aug. 19.

"I'm really excited," Suarez told VFL Films' Kasey Funderburg in an interview posted on Twitter. "I would go right now if I could, but because of COVID and everything, I can't. ... I am not thinking about anything but basketball and meeting my teammates."

Jessie Rennie, a native of Australia, was able to join the team for the beginning of summer workouts.

Suarez, a 6-foot-2 guard/forward, grew up in Asturias before moving to Barcelona in 2018 to play basketball at INS Joaquim Blume. She told Funderburg that growing up she wanted to play soccer, but her mom encouraged her to play basketball because of her height. 

Basketball wasn't popular in her hometown, which inspired the move to Barcelona.

"Since the first day, I was like, 'Mom, I'm going to be a professional basketball player,'" Suarez said. "She was like, 'Yeah, sure.' But then it's turned out pretty good for me."

From 2019-20, Suarez played for Segle XXI Barcelona in Spain's Liga Femenina 2, the second-highest division of women's basketball in Spain. She led the team with 12.7 points and 5.6 rebounds per game on 46% shooting from the field and 34.6% from 3-point range.

She also represented Spain in the 2018 U16 Women's European Championship in Lithuania, averaging 7.0 points and 2.9 rebounds in seven games. 

Suarez is just the fourth international player to represent the Lady Vols and the third under current coach Kellie Harper.