When it was his turn to speak at the ceremony and after receiving his trophy from the Ivan Lendl, Emilio Nava gave a big smile and started his speech with a simple “Wow!”. If not for the still projected score of the final of the junior category of the Australian Open, one would have thought that Nava had just won the title.
Despite the defeat against the Italian Lorenzo Musetti (4-6, 6-3, 7-6 ), the American with Mexican origins was happy for what just happened.
A day earlier, Nava also lost the doubles final, but that did not diminish his good mood. “It means the whole world to come to this stadium, Rod Laver, and play. Thank you very much”, he said. “I hope I can come back. Thank you!”.
To understand the reason of his good mood in the face of defeat, we must know its origin, which began in Mexico. His grandfather, Ernesto Escobedo, fell in love with tennis after attending a Davis Cup match in Los Angeles. After moving all his family to Jerez, Zacatecas, Don Ernesto built a tennis court in the patio of his house.
Xóchitl Nava, mother of Emilio, recognizes that the court, built by his father, had its own limitations, but at the same time offered his son an opportunity.
“It was so tight, that on one side of the court we could not hit the neither forehand nor backhand. It was a tennis court, but for many it was a playground where you could hit the tennis balls just for fun”, Xochitl told the journalist Ben Rothenberg of the New York Times.
Completely in love whit the white sport, Mr. Ernesto Escobedo transmitted his passion to his 10 children. “As we grew, each one took different paths, but we always played tennis,” Xóchitl Nava stated.
Thanks to her training started in the court built by her father, Xóchitl Escobedo became the best national women player, No. 284 in the world ranking and Mexican representative in the Olympic Games in Seoul 1988. Her husband, Eduardo Nava, was a track athlete and competed in the 1988 and Barcelona 1992 Olympics.
This has already been passed to the new generation of the Escobedo family: Ernesto Escobedo, nephew of Xóchitl, reached No. 68 in 2017; Eduardo, his eldest son, plays in Wake Forest and is a national champion in the United States; Diego, his second son, plays in Los Angeles, and Emilio, the youngest, has played two Grand Slam finals in the junior category.
Emilio Nava took his big first step when he reached the final of the prestigious Eddie Herr tournament in 2018. “It’s all, seriously, tennis is everything,” says Emilio, 17. “Especially when you train every day, tennis becomes a lifestyle, you know? Every time you think about it, it becomes something: you try to relax a bit, but it’s still there”.
With his family and home in California Emilio divides his time between California and Alicante, where he trains in Juan Carlos Ferrero’s academy. When he is in California, he trains across the Street at his cousin Jaime’s back yard.
“In Alicante Ferrero gives me advise. I still haven’t trained with him directly”, Emilio said.
Para encontrar el espíritu competitivo que sus padres y hermanos mayores le implantaron, Emilio no tiene que ir muy lejos. “Crecí en una familia competitiva y atlética”, admite. “Mis dos hermanos crecieron jugando al tenis, siendo los más jóvenes los admiraba. Quería ser como ellos y quería que me prestaran atención. Me encanta el tenis y la adrenalina y los desafíos que vienen con él”.
To find the competitive spirit that runs in his family Emilio does not have to go far. “I grew up in a competitive and athletic family,” he admits. “My two brothers grew up playing tennis, being the youngest I admired them. I wanted to be like them, and I wanted them to pay attention to me. I love tennis and adrenaline and the challenges that come with it. “