Tough, But Fun: The Story Of Ernesto Escobedo - UBITENNIS
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Tough, But Fun: The Story Of Ernesto Escobedo

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Ernesto Escobedo (zimbio.com)

By Mark Winters

Everyone who attempts to make a go of it on the professional tour has to possess the necessary blocks to actually build a career. Obviously, physical and mental talents are a necessity; good fortune (or luck, as the case may be) is another part of the equation, but more often than not, the most pertinent factor is procuring financial backing.

Talking with Ernesto Escobedo III – nicknamed “Neto” – about what he has accomplished in his three years as a professional player, spoke volumes about the process of “Making It”.  Following his first round 7-6, 6-3, 6-4 loss to Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan, he related, “It has been tough, but it has been fun…Growing up, I could have taken another road and gone to an academy, but family is very important to me.”

His sisters, Estefania and Evanka, have always provided support; from the time he took up the game, but when it came to sacrifice, his parents, Ernesto Jr. and Cristina, are stars. “My mother has done so much for me and I am so grateful,” the personable 20-year-old said. “I have two older sisters, but she always found the time to take me to my lessons and to practice.”

As important as all of that was, his father went “beyond the call of parenthood”. Escobedo related, “He is a character. He shows no emotion, and is always very positive. Instead of working until 8:00 p.m. every night (for UPS – United Parcel Service), he would get off early and help me. There were rules, but he made tennis fun.”

Ernesto Jr. is the oldest of ten children. He was raised in Jerez, Mexico. When his father Ernesto Sr. was 40, he discovered tennis, and built a court in the backyard. The youngest in the line of Ernestoes grinned when he talked about it, saying, “It wasn’t the right size; there wasn’t enough room. The lines weren’t straight and the net really wasn’t a net.”

His father was twelve when he started to play and he fell in love with the game. In interviews, Ernesto Jr. has charmingly admitted that he had hoped to become a professional and he did play low level money events in Mexico and in Europe, but according to self-evaluation, “had no talent.”

After his son, who was born in Los Angeles, California, was old enough to engage in youth sports, Ernesto Jr. attempted to steer him toward team endeavors, such as football (soccer). He didn’t want “Neto” to have to scramble and scrape to make ends meet like he had done with his tennis. But, the youngster was gifted and, in a short time, it became clear that he could really play.

Money was a problem, though. “I never played the International Tennis Federation (ITF) events,” Escobedo said. “I never played Roland Garros juniors or a lot of national tournaments because of the cost. Basically, I played where I could.”

Escobedo’s story is even more captivating when details about how he developed his game on the public courts (not at a country club), and still lives with his family in West Covina, California, are revealed. It becomes movie script worthy after it is noted that he was born on July 4, 1996. July Fourth, of course, is Independence Day in the US, yet he is a prime example of what it is like to be in today’s roller coaster-like political world. He is very proud that he is a Mexican-American. The magic storyline continued when he defeated Denis Kudla of the US, 6-4, 6-4, in the final of the ATP World Tour Challenger in Monterrey, Mexico.

Proof of the “Pinch Me” quality of what Escobedo has accomplished becomes almost surreal when it is revealed that at the 2016 Roland Garros entry date in mid-April, he was No. 324. (Escobedo pointed out, “Last year, with my ranking, I wasn’t even able to get into the qualifying.”)

Defining Escobedo’s game is easy. The 6’ 1”, 180-pounder is sound off the ground. His shots are heavy. His forehand is a potent point winner and his serve is a formidable weapon.

“I was disappointed with the way I played against Istomin,” he said of his performance. “I had been practicing well and I thought I was ready. When I got on the court, I was nervous and as the match went on my confidence dipped.”

It is hard to believe that a performer ranked No. 75, who enjoys  #NextGen status, is for the most part, unknown, but that’s Escobedo. He is comfortable with his improvement since turning pro at 17, but said, “My focus is on becoming more confident and moving better.”

Though his singles participation ended in disappointment, Escobedo notched his first Roland Garrros “W” teaming with Sam Querrey.  The Southern Californians came up against Simone Bolelli and Fabio Fognini, the Italian duo who won the 2015 Australian Open, and performed impressively, scoring a 2-6, 7-6, 6-2 victory.

When his time in Paris concludes, he moves to grass play and he is excited. “I won my first career ATP match at the Aegon Open in Nottingham, (England)”,  he said. “I defeated Diego Schwartzman, 6-0, 6-3. I haven’t played much on grass, but I think I can play well on the surface.” (It is ironic that Querrey, his Roland Garros doubles partner, defeated him in the second-round, 6-4, 6-4.)

For a guy who has come so far and has the promise of going so much further, “Tough, but fun” is the perfect description of what he has accomplished.

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Caroline Wozniacki Calls For More Help To Support Returning Mothers

Caroline Wozniacki has called on the WTA to support returning mothers.

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Caroline Wozniacki has called on the WTA to provide more support for returning mothers.

The Dane is one of a number of top stars that have returned to the tour since becoming a mother.

Recently the likes of Serena Williams, Victoria Azarenka, Angelique Kerber and Naomi Osaka have all returned to the tour since becoming a mother.

However Wozniacki believes the WTA could provide more support to mothers who plan on returning to the tour, “I think I’ve been treated very well, The tournaments have really embraced me coming back and with kids,” Wozniacki explained to the Press Association.

Where I do share my view, and where a lot of other women on tour share the view, is I think there should be more done for women coming back from maternity leave. It has been looked at because obviously there’s more players now that want to come back but, at the same time, it’s not the same as coming back from an injury.

“As someone who came back after almost four years, I think when you give birth and for the body to recover, you’ve grown a human inside you, there’s a lot of changes that are happening in the body after that. I think in general women deserve more time to feel, ‘OK, now I’m ready, I can really prepare and get ready for competing at the highest level’.

It’s an issue that has made progress but there is still work to do in order to encourage people that it’s possible to make a smooth transition from motherhood to the tennis court.

As for Wozniacki, the Dane recently lost in the first round of Birmingham to Elise Mertens and is now preparing for Wimbledon where she has received a main draw wildcard.

Wimbledon starts on the first of July.

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Could Dan Evans’ Latest Injury Halt Andy Murray’s Olympic Plans?

Andy Murray Olympics hopes could pin down to Dan Evans’ recovery from his latest injury.

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Andy Murray had said that he may not play the Olympic Games if he plays just the singles event.

This could be the last summer that Andy Murray plays competitive tennis as he gears up for a potential Wimbledon farewell.

However Wimbledon may not be the tournament that Murray announces his retirement with the Olympics coming up next month.

The Olympics will take place in Paris and the former gold medallist has been announced in GB’s team ahead of the games.

There is a plot twist to all of this and that plot twist is Murray’s recent comments about whether he would play the Olympic Games.

In a recent interview Murray admitted that he wouldn’t be keen on just playing singles in Paris given the fact that it’s being played on his least favourite surface clay, “There is more chance of me winning a medal in the doubles rather than the singles,” Murray told BBC Sport.

“I’m not 100% sure. It depends a little bit physically how I’m doing and a bit how the next few weeks ago as well. My plan just now is to play but it’s not straightforward.”

The only player that Murray could play doubles with at the Olympics is Dan Evans, which they will probably find out on the fourth of July if they will get into the event.

However there is now a spanner in the works which is Dan Evans’ recent injury with the Brit suffering a nasty fall against Brandon Nakashima at Queen’s Club.

It will be known in the next couple of days how bad Evans’ injury is but after his match in London, the Brit was worried about a potential MCL injury, “I’m worried, no doubt,” Evans told the press association.

“I mean, a good thing, I thought it was my groin. That settled down pretty much straight away. But I think it’s MCL, sort of a bit inside of the knee. There is an issue there, that’s for sure after the testing so far with the physios.

“So I’ve got to wait 48 hours, let it settle, and then get a scan. I’m worried, yeah. That’s the bottom line, of course. Yeah, I’m in limbo a bit. It’s frustrating. If I miss the Olympics or Wimbledon it would be a tough one to swallow, no doubt.

“I don’t know. I’m just, I’m heartbroken at the minute, to be honest. Yeah, it’s tough.”

If the injury to Evans, results in Murray’s Olympics withdrawal then it would be a sad way to end Murray’s Olympics career that has included two gold medals.

However the main importance is that Evans is able to compete in the near future as he aims to be fit in time for Wimbledon.

Wimbledon starts on the first of July with the Olympics taking place 26 days later.

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Former Champion Angelique Kerber And Naomi Osaka Headline Initial Wimbledon Wildcards

Angelique Kerber and Naomi Osaka headline the Wimbledon wildcards this year.

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Former Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber has headlined the initial Wimbledon wildcards that have been announced this morning.

The German won the title in 2018 after defeating Serena Williams and is aiming to recreate some more magic at SW19 as she receives a wildcard into the main draw.

Although Kerber’s comeback hasn’t gone to plan, the German will hope grass is where she can find some confidence with the Olympic Games also in her plans there.

Another player who will be hoping for a change of fortunes at Wimbledon is former world number one Caroline Wozniacki who has also received a wildcard for the event.

Wozniacki was thrashed this week by Elise Mertens in Birmingham and will be hoping that she can improve her form over the next couple of weeks.

However a player that is in confident form right now is former US Open champion Naomi Osaka who has received a wildcard into Wimbledon.

The former world number one almost defeated Iga Swiatek at Roland Garros and is finding her feet on the grass after struggling in previous years.

On the men’s side Nottingham champion Jacob Fearnley has received a main draw wildcard as well as last year’s Juniors champion Henry Searle.

Here is the full list announced by the AELTC this morning with the final list set to be confirmed later this week or early next week.

Men’s Singles:

  1. Liam Broady
  2. Jan Choinski
  3. Jacob Fearnley
  4. Arthur Fery
  5. Billy Harris
  6. Paul Jubb
  7. Henry Searle
  8. TBA

Women’s Singles

  1. Francesca Jones
  2. Angelique Kerber
  3. Yuriko Lily Miyazaki
  4. Naomi Osaka
  5. Emma Raducanu
  6. Heather Watson
  7. Caroline Wozniacki
  8. TBA

Men’s Qualifying Singles

  1. Oliver Bonding
  2. Charles Broom
  3. Jay Clarke
  4. Felix Gill
  5. George Loffhagen
  6. Jack Pinnington Jones
  7. TBA
  8. Play-Off Place
  9. Play-Off Place

Women’s Qualifying Singles

  1. Emily Appleton
  2. Armani Banks
  3. Sonay Kartal
  4. Hannah Klugman
  5. Clervie Ngounoue
  6. Mika Stojsavljevic
  7. Mingge Xu
  8. Play-Off Place
  9. Play-Off Place

Men’s Doubles

  1. Liam Broady/Billy Harris
  2. Charles Broom/Arthur Fery
  3. Jay Clarke/Marcus Willis
  4. Dan Evans/Henry Searle
  5. Jacob Fearnley/Jack Pinnington Jones
  6. TBA
  7. TBA

Women’s Doubles

  1. Emily Appleton/Yuriko Lily Miyazaki
  2. Alicia Barnett/Freya Christie
  3. Harriet Dart/Maia Lumsden
  4. TBA
  5. TBA
  6. TBA
  7. TBA

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