At Australian Open, a Legacy Tracing Back to a Backyard in Mexico

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MELBOURNE, Australia — Emilio Nava stood on the microphone on the court docket docket of Rod Laver Arena and smiled broadly.

“Wow,” he acknowledged, smiling as soon as extra. “Wow.”

It was laborious to know he had merely misplaced. Nava, 17, seeded 13th, saved three championship components and held one in each of his private sooner than falling, 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (12), to top-seeded Lorenzo Musetti of Italy in the Australian Open boys’ singles closing on Saturday. (On Friday, Nava misplaced in the boys’ doubles closing.)

Despite the double dose of disappointment, he remained undimmed.

“It means the world to come out here on Rod Laver and play, thank you so much,” he acknowledged. “Hopefully I’ll be back, and see you later, thank you!”

The historic previous of tennis success in Nava’s family might be traced to an undersized court docket docket in a small metropolis in Mexico. His grandfather Ernesto Escobedo Sr. fell in love with the sport when he watched a Davis Cup tie in Los Angeles. After transferring his huge family to Jerez, Mexico, he constructed a tennis court docket docket, or as a lot of 1 as he may match, in the family’s yard.

Xóchitl Nava, Emilio’s mother, acknowledged the little court docket docket her father constructed had its limitations, however moreover offered boundless alternate options.

“On one side of the court, we didn’t have room to hit a backhand or forehand,” she acknowledged in a telephone interview. “So it was a tennis court, but more of a playground where we could hit balls and have fun.”

Their father’s passion for tennis rubbed off on a lot of his 10 youngsters.

“When we started getting older, everybody went their own ways,” Xóchitl Nava acknowledged. “But we were always playing tennis.”

That court docket docket spurred her to a modest expert occupation — she reached a extreme of 284th and represented Mexico in the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea. But it proved a good stronger trampoline for the next period: Nava’s reaching two junior Grand Slam finals at this match alone is just the newest occasion.

Xóchitl Nava’s nephew Ernesto Escobedo reached a career-best ATP ranking of No. 68 in 2017. Her oldest son, Eduardo, performs at Wake Forest, the reigning nationwide champion. Her heart son, Diego, performs for Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles.

Emilio Nava first made a splash on the elite junior stage by reaching the final word of the celebrated Eddie Herr match remaining yr. He stays in contact alongside together with his tennis-playing cousins and siblings in an lively group chat.

“It’s everything, really,” he acknowledged of the sport. “Especially when you train every day, it becomes a lifestyle, you know? It becomes every day that you’re thinking about it — you try to relax a little bit, but it’s still there. But it’s fun, yeah, yeah, for sure.”

He now splits his time between California and Alicante, Spain, the place he trains on the Juan Carlos Ferrero Equelite Sport Academy. When he is dwelling in Woodland Hills, Calif., he trains all through the street on the yard court docket docket of his cousin Jaime’s residence.

On Sunday, Xóchitl Nava expressed little disappointment about Emilio’s defeat.

“Seeing him in the finals, for us, it’s like a dream,” she acknowledged. “We’re just very lucky and fortunate to have Emilio, and to watch him play in a big stadium like that, it’s really unbelievable.”

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