Hispanic Heritage sPOTLIGHT:
E.J. Crawford | September 27, 2017
Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 is National Hispanic Heritage Month. To celebrate, USTA.com is taking a look at past, present and future stars of Hispanic heritage who have helped to shape the game, as well as those who could soon cement their place in it.
Here’s a closer look at rising star Ernesto Escobedo, the first Mexican-American man to crack the Top 200 since former two-time U.S. Championships winner Pancho Gonzalez in the late 1960s/early 1970s.
- Unlike many of his peers, Escobedo was not a junior star. Rather than go to a tennis academy, he stayed home and honed his game on the public courts around Los Angeles, working his father, Ernesto Jr., who competed in Mexico as a junior. The West Covina, Calif., native now trains at the USTA base in Carson, Calif.
- Playing steadily on the USTA Pro Circuit and ITF Pro Circuit, Escobedo improved his ranking from No.
390 at year-end 2015 to No. 141 at year-end 2016 to his current No. 90. (He peaked at No. 67 in July.)
- Escobedo’s big breakthrough in 2017 came in April at the U.S. Clay Court Championships, where he topped fellow rising star Thiago Monteiro and No. 2 seed John Isner to reach his first career tour semifinal.
- He also reached the second round at the 2017 Australian Open (as a qualifier) and followed that up by winning a round at the ATP 500 event in Acapulco and qualifying for the Masters 1000 tournament in Miami, where he reached the second round.
- His nickname is Neto, short for Ernesto, which is also the name of his father and grandfather. His father initially did not want Neto to play tennis but, according to the ATP, changed his mind once his son first picked up a racquet at age 4.