West Covina's Ernesto Escobedo has played on the big stage since turning pro in 2014 as a teenager. A year later, "Neto" was ranked inside the world Top 100 and peaked at #67 during the summer of 2017, earning a spot in the Australian Open. He has since competed in all four majors, and won ten Challenger and Futures titles. A Mexican-American by heritage, the 24-year old Escobedo is devoted to creating opportunities for young Latinos to experience the benefits of tennis.
We asked "Neto" about some of his biggest career wins, balancing nerves on the court, coming home to Southern California, and how to properly celebrate your birthday when you are born on the Fourth of July.
Q: You had a strong start to 2020, but the momentum was cut short by the stoppage of play. How did you keep yourself ready to get back to competition this summer?
Since (the Tour) was suspended, I have been very busy. I'm lucky that I have a gym in my house that has everything, so I have been exercising during the day. Maybe I'm playing tennis two or three times a week so I can keep up. Besides that, every day I have basketball games at my house with all my friends. It's very fun.
Q: You've had big wins against names like Sock, Isner, and Tiafoe. What did you do to raise your game against those well-known American counterparts?
I don't really think about it too much when playing a fellow American, but I see it as an added challenge. Maybe because I grew up playing with them, so now that we're playing each other on tour, we don't want to lose to each other.
Q: You need a lot of confidence to compete in the pro ranks. Can you remember a time that you were most nervous on court? How did you overcome that?
I remember when I played my first open main draw at the US Open when I was 20 years old. I went to the court very nervous because I had no idea what was going to happen. Just seeing my entire family there supporting me made my nerves disappear. Usually when I want to get rid of my nerves, I tell myself a couple of jokes to relax myself on the court.
Q: You're able to get back home to SoCal frequently. When you do, what's the home-cooked meal you look forward to the most?
I love food, so when I get home, I want to eat everything but for me there is nothing like tacos al pastor. I think it's the best thing in the world.
Q: In SoCal there is a significant Latin American population. How important is it to put tennis racquets in the hands of young Latino children?
I am very proud to be an American / Mexican. Especially here in Los Angeles where there is a large Latin American population. One of my biggest goals in tennis is to inspire young Latino boys to play tennis. I feel like it's growing little by little, but I want to be the person who really pushes that here in Los Angeles and in Latin countries. It is an incredible sport that teaches you a lot as an athlete. But not only that, (tennis also teaches) how to grow as a person.
Q: Your birthday is the Fourth of July. What's the most memorable birthday you've ever had?
I've had so many memories of my birthdays, but I've always wanted to take my friends to Las Vegas, so we went last year... and the rest is history.