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Tennis.com Podcast: Andrew Fenty and Ernesto Escobedo, two journeys in pursuit of excellence
There’s no single path to achieving success in this sport. These two players are living proof that the road is long, but the rewards are worth it.
Published Jul 18, 2023
THE BREAK: Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon
Kamau Murray hosted an ATP Challenger event at his club, the XS Tennis Center in Chicago, Illinois, this past week. While the ATP’s highest ranked players were at the prestigious grounds of the All England Club, there was a strong and recognizable contingent of men’s players looking to find success on the south side of the Windy City.
Each had a different backstory and a unique set of circumstances that led them to this event. For some it was the start of a pro journey, and for others it was a chance to reignite the spark in a lengthy career. Andrew Fenty and Ernesto Escobedo are two different sides to the same coin, professional players chasing a career in a crowded landscape. Fenty is just starting, hoping to find his footing and make good on the only first impression he’ll ever have in the pro game. Escobedo is looking to recapture the magic he had and continue to live out his childhood dream. Both sat down with Kamau Murray to explain what led this to this point, and why they’re eager to prove they belong.
Andrew Fenty is a realist. The Michigan standout capped an impressive college career this past spring, and acknowledges that he’s now swimming with sharks. His dad, former Washington D.C. mayor Adrian Fenty, instilled in him early that knowledge is true power.
“My father always told me that the most important thing you’ll get in this life is education,” Fenty explained. “I really think that if I would have won a (junior) grand slam, I still would’ve gone to college.”
He stayed the course while getting exposure along the way, playing (and in many cases beating) several future pros such as Félix Auger-Aliassime and Jenson Brooksby. They’re early success did not frustrate Fenty, rather it motivated him to remain patient. His time will come, and it kicked off this summer with the beginning of his pro trek.
The roots of Fenty’s tennis odyssey were sprung in Washington, D.C., where he has no shortage of role models in the current game. Frances Tiafoe and Denis Kudla proved that it is possible to make it from his hometown, and they continue to offer guidance to the young man following in their footsteps.
“Honestly real talk, if I didn’t have them, I don’t know where I’d be. I just remember Frances, whatever he did, I wanted to do,” Fenty acknowledged. He considers those guys his older brothers who always want to help, but everyone knows how older brothers treat competition. “I’ve won one set against Frances and one set against Denis, and I’ve lost about 30. They will not lose to me and they will do whatever it takes.”
Ernesto Escobedo has been a touring pro since 2014, and in that time accumulated a career high ranking of No. 67 along with four challenger titles. He’s experienced success and failure, and is constantly reminded that no moment is guaranteed other than the one you are present in.
“I started fresh a couple weeks ago. It’s been a tough journey for me for the past 5-7 years,” Escobedo stated. “What keeps me going is just, I love it now. I just want to be present out there on the court, and in peace within myself. I figured out at 27 years old, this is what I want to do.” It’s a profound statement for someone who never stopped loving the game, despite all of the hardships thrown his way.
Escobedo won a M25 World Tennis Tour event in Mexico last May, and truly believes that some of his best tennis is ready to emerge. 2023 was also a monumental year in a different sense, as he decided to represent Mexico when competing. It was a tough decision for a player with such strong ties to the United States as well, but ultimately the bigger picture was the catalyst for the change.
“I just want to motivate kids over there, so that they can pursue their dreams you know. That anything is possible in this world,” Escobedo professed. “Hopefully soon or one day, I can open up a school in my hometown, just to help out kids.”
The Chicago Challenger event was another chance for players to compete for prize money and find their footing. Whether it’s the first step on the path to realizing your dreams, or a step towards reclaiming your best form, the opportunity to play pro tennis is a special one. Andrew Fenty and Ernesto Escobedo are on different roads, but their focus, passion, and love of the game could not be any more similar.