Escobedo Rides Mexican Wave Of Support
When you take a look at Ernesto Escobedo’s iPhone tracklist you get a hint a about his roots. He slides his finger across the screen and some of his favourite artists appear: Maluma, Carlos Vives, Miguel Bose, Joey Montana, Luis Fonsi, Danny Ocean, Daddy Yankee, Pitbull.
He listens to Latin music because it motivates him, and his level of Spanish allows him to understand the lyrics. There is another hint about his roots.
A poster in the stands that accompanies him around the world during his matches says: “Porra Jerez. ¡Vamos Neto!”. It is always held by one of his family members, and it’s written in Spanish.
The reason is simple: his parents, Ernesto and Cristina, are from Jerez, Mexico. He was raised in the United States as a Mexican.
The World No. 69 is one of the main contenders bidding to qualify for the maiden edition of the Next Gen ATP Finals, to be held in Milan in November. This week, the 21 year old is competing like a local favourite at the Abierto Mexicano de Tenis Mifel in Los Cabos.
Despite being born in Los Angeles in 1996 and playing under the US flag on the ATP World Tour, Escobedo’s personality and nationality are Mexican. His culinary tastes, for instance, blow the whistle.
“I love seafood, burritos and nachos. Every Mexican product. My faves are ‘tacos al pastor’. My mum always prepares it whenever I’m at home, she’s a great chef”, Escobedo told ATPWorldTour.com.
Most of the time the 21 year old speaks in English, even at his West Covine house where he lives with his parents and sisters, Estephania and Evanka. However, he tries to practise Spanish as much as he can so as not to forget it.
“I want to speak it more and more,” he said. “It is important to my family. I understand it but it takes me some time to speak.”
He also practises it with his girlfriend, who is from Guadalajara. “I asked her out in March 2016. I was playing a Challenger event in that city, where she was a volunteer”, he says with a smile on his face about Maria, who accompanies him at the ATP World Tour 250 event in Los Cabos.
Thanks to her he broadened his sporting interests in Mexico. Apart from supporting some Mexican stars, such as the footballer Chicharito Hernandez or the boxer Canelo Alvarez, he began to follow the Chivas de Guadalajara matches.
“I feel I’m from both countries. I can’t forget that my family is from Mexico, a magnificent country,” Escobedo said. “I love to come here, the people are very nice. But, at the same time, I was born and raised in the United States.”
Not just that. He fell in love with tennis when his father gave him a racquet customised with Spiderman images, and when his mother brought him to practise against the wall of her sisters’ school. Before starting primary school he had mojo on his shots.
Back at home, where tennis knowledge was always on point, they decided to go for it. His grandfather reached out to some of his 10 sons to play in his backyard in Jerez (on an improvised hard court). His father taught ‘Neto’ on the public courts of West Covina.
Escobedo’s practices were conducted in Spanish and ‘Neto’ remembers some lectures – no excuses, compete hard, don’t give up. “It was too strict,” he said.
“I didn’t like it at the beginning. But without my father I wouldn’t have had this career. Now I am grateful for his toughness.”
His father still gives him some tips and travels with him to tournaments whenever he can. This week he will be cheering for him from the stands in Los Cabos, along with five uncles, a cousin and one of their daughters. The ‘Porra Jerez’ poster is ready. “I hope they spread the rest of the fans so everybody can support me, because in Mexico I feel at home,” he said.