Hispanic Heritage Month
Ashley Marshall | October 4, 2019
It's National Hispanic Heritage Month, and to celebrate, USTA.com is honoring players of Hispanic heritage who are making a mark on the game of tennis. Let’s take a look at how several of our players have performed in 2019.
Usue Arconada: Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Arconada (pictured above) is enjoying her most successful year yet. She has climbed more than 200 places up the rankings since the start of the year, rising to a career-high of No. 140 in the world this week. Playing predominantly ITF-level events, Arconada won titles in Bethany Beach, Fla., Denver and Honolulu this summer on clay, grass and hard courts, respectively. She also reached the championship match in Osprey, Fla., and advanced to the quarterfinals or better in six other events.
Christina McHale: McHale climbed back inside the Top 100 this year, jumping more than 60 places since the start of the season and putting her in a position for direct entry into the Australian Open to kick off the 2020 campaign.
Wins over Top-50 players Anastasija Sevastova (19), Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (43) and Maria Sakkari (41) have contributed to her steady climb that has been punctuated by coming through qualifying to reach the main draw of Indian Wells. The daughter of a Cuban mother, McHale also won an ITF-level event in Cagnes-Sur-Mer, France, defeating three of the top four seeds without dropping a set.
Irina Falconi: Born in Portoviejo, Ecuador, Falconi returned to the tennis court last month after taking a sabbatical away from the game. She defeated Victoria Duval in the first round of an ITF-level event in Templeton, Calif., last week, her first match in more than a year, before retiring one set into her second-round match against another American, Hanna Chang. Last fall, Falconi shared on social media that she had been feeling burned out and that she wanted to take an extended break to spend time with friends and family and to pursue off-court pastimes, like commentating and podcasting.
Ernesto Escobedo: The 23-year-old California native has almost exclusively played the ATP Challenger Tour circuit in 2019. Escobedo, who spent 26 consecutive weeks inside the Top 100 in 2017, almost fell outside the Top 300 for the first time this spring, but a run to the title at the Challenger Banque Nationale de Granby in Canada in July and the semifinals of the Nordic Naturals Challenger in Aptos, Calif., two weeks later has seen his stock back on the rise. Born and raised in California to Mexican parents, Escobedo’s career highlights include reaching the second round of the US Open in 2016 and the Australian Open in 2017.
JC Aragone: Aragone is an Argentine-American born in Buenos Aires and raised in California. He reached the semifinals of ATP Challenger Tour-level events in Cary, N.C., and Lexington, Ky., this year, but his biggest successes have been on the doubles court, where he has jumped to a career-best ranking of No. 153. He has contested four doubles finals in 2019, lifting the trophy at the Oracle Challenger Series event in Indian Wells, Calif., with Marcos Giron in February and in Winnetka, Ill., with Bradley Klahn in July.
Katerina Stewart: Stewart is 15-3 this year, with an ITF title in Naples, Fla., consecutive runner-up finishes in back-to-back tournaments in Ecuador and a quarterfinal appearance in Bethany Beach, Fla. The 22-year-old, whose heritage includes Argentinian, Italian and Romanian, was once ranked as high as No. 158 in the world before she enrolled at the West Point Preparatory School in 2016.
Sabrina Santamaria: Born to a Panamanian father and Philippine mother, Santamaria has reached two doubles finals (one with Dalila Jakupovic in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, last month and one with Alexa Guarachi in Istanbul, Turkey, in April) and two other semifinals (both with Guarachi) in 2019. She’s currently ranked No. 67 in the world in doubles, 14 spots off her career-high set in August.
Emilio Nava: Seventeen-year-old Nava had his breakout season in 2019, reaching the final of the boys' singles competition at September's US Open and the final of both the junior singles and doubles events at the Australian Open in January. The cousin of Escobedo, Nava is the son of Mexican Olympians Xochitl Escobedo (who represented her country in tennis at the 1988 Games and coaches Emilio) and Eduardo Nava (who ran the 100 meters at the same Olympics in Seoul and again in Barcelona four years later). Nava is currently the No. 5-ranked junior in the world. His oldest brother Eduardo is a redshirt senior at Wake Forest, while youngest brother Diego is a junior on the Loyola Marymount tennis team.
Ulises Blanch: Blanch, 21, was born in San Juan, P.R., and moved to Seattle just days later. He reached the final of an ITF M25 event in Memphis, Tenn., in August and has also reached the quarterfinals of three doubles events with a trio of partners. Blanch, who represented the World TeamTennis finalists New York Empire this summer, has also lived in China, Thailand, Argentina and India, a result of his father’s career with Coca-Cola. Read more about Blanch here.
Dali Blanch: The oldest of Ulises’ three younger siblings, Dali was Born in Miami in 2003. He won a Grade 1 doubles title in Berlin, Germany, in June and contested the singles final at another Grade 1 clay-court tournament in Cuenca, Ecuador, in February. In September, Blanch was on the U.S. Junior Davis Cup team that contested the championship match at the USTA National Campus in Orlando, Fla.