2017 Series Spotlight: Ernesto Escobedo

April 18, 2017 09:14 AM

By E.J. Crawford

Ernesto Escobedo accelerated his rapid rise up the world rankings last week 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.

Here’s a little more on this up-and-coming young American:

The Ernesto Escobedo File

Age: 20
Height: 6-1
Residence: West Covina, CA
Current Rank: 73
Career-High Rank: 73 (April 2017)
Best 2016 Series Finish: Did not compete

The Baseline

- Unlike his fellow U.S. NextGen standouts Taylor Fritz, Reilly Opelka, Tommy Paul and Frances Tiafoe, Escobedo was not a junior star. Rather than go to a tennis academy, he stayed home and honed his game on the public courts in and around Los Angeles, working his father, Ernesto Jr., who competed in Mexico as a junior.

- 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 by winning Challengers in Lexington, Ky., and Monterrey, Mexico, and reaching finals in Sao Paolo, Brazil, and Cary, N.C. He is the first Mexican-American to crack the Top 200 since former two-time U.S. Championships winner Pancho Gonzalez in the 1960s.

- One of the highlights of Escobedo’s breakout 2016 was advancing to the second round of the US Open in his Grand Slam main-draw debut. He did not compete in last year’s Series, instead playing in a series of USTA Pro Circuit events.

- 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 (with many family members in attendance) and qualifying for the Masters 1000 tournament in Miami, where he reached the second round.

- At a career-best No. 73, Escobedo is now the highest-ranked of the three U.S. players age 20 or younger in the Top 100 (alongside Jared Donaldson and Tiafoe) and of the seven American men 20 or younger in the Top 200 (also Fritz, Opelka, Stefan Kozlov and Michael Mmoh). All told, the U.S. boasts three of the seven 20-and-under members of the Top 100 and seven of the 18 in the Top 200.

They Said It!!

“I wasn't winning a lot of matches my first two years on tour, so to have the results come this quickly is a little surprising. But at the same time, I don't want to say it surpassed my expectations. This is what I've been working for. Now that I've won matches lately in Acapulco and Miami and here, I'm really feeling like I belong.” – Escobedo, to atpworldtour.com, after upsetting John Isner to reach the Houston semifinals