Rising tennis star Emilio Nava was destined for greatness. Both his parents competed and represented their home country Mexico in the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea. His mother Xóchitl Escobedo played tennis, while his dad Eduardo ran track. At just 17-years-old, Emilio is gearing to follow in his parent’s footsteps, but he’s choosing to do on the tennis court. “Having my mom play tennis and my dad run track, it’s different point of views,” he tells HOLA! USA. “My mom has taught me how to compete and never give up, while my dad taught me to just be an absolute fighter, to fight every point.”
Most recently, Emilio played in two Junior Grand Slam finals, coming in second in both the Australian and US open. Next up, he’s going to make his debut at the pro circuit, playing against the sport’s top players. Not only is he proud to be represent the US, he’s proud to be representing Mexico.
Keep reading to see how the pro athlete trains, what his favorite cheat meal is and who he dreams of playing against on tennis’ main stage….
HOLA USA: When did you start playing tennis?
“Well my parents taught me around three or four, but I’m not really conscious of that. But that’s when they say I started playing [Laughs].”
What does a usual workout look like for you?
“Well, it depends on what the plan says, but sometimes I go to the beach and do a couple sand workouts there. If not, I hit the bike and ride for a lot of miles, or I sometimes hit the track and do a couple of laps. It’s pretty typical.”
Do you train all week?
“I usually have one day off or maybe an afternoon off just to get the body ready for the next couple of days. So I don’t go too hard and then get hurt. But yeah, it’s usually 6 days out of 7 that I’m training.”
Any specific diet you need to follow?
“Not really, but I try to stay focused on what would help me in my recovery and also my performance.”
So your cheat meals are generous?
“There’s a burger joint across the street from my house [Laughs]. I just go there and I eat three burgers and a couple of fries.”
What do you like to do on your days off?
“On my days off, I like to just chill with some friends, maybe go watch a movie or maybe go to an amusement park…there’s a lot over here in LA. I just try to relax and just forget about tennis for a day."
You were born in the US, but have Mexican blood—how proud are you to be a Latino and representing in tennis?
“It feels great because you have the complete support from USA. Everybody here, I love them and they love me, so that feels really good to have them on my side. But then also having the Mexican side and the Latino side and knowing that I also have a big crowd behind me over there, that feels really good—to know that two sides are really supporting.”
Do you have any advice for young Latino tennis players who dream of making it big in the sport?
“Definitely. When you go out on the court, just try to find what motivates you and what makes you happy out there because that plays a big factor. When you’re happy, you’re playing good.”
You’ve completed your final junior year—what are you most looking forward to competing in the world’s biggest tennis tournaments?
“The US Open was my last junior tournament, so now I’m going to focus on the pro circuit and try to get my way up to the top. We call it the grind, where you gotta work for every point and just having fun out there. Fighting for very point and then winning is a great feeling.”
Is there one tennis player that you dream to play against?
“In a match, I want to play against David Ferrer. I got the chance to play a practice set in Acapulco against him and we didn’t get to finish but he was up 5-4. So I guess I already fulfilled my dream [Laughs].”
And is there a tennis player that inspires you the most?
“Him as well. He’s always been an idol since I was a little kid. Just the way he worked and not having the advantage of having such a big serve, but his work ethic and the way he fights, is just incredible. I try to build off of that.”
Any routine before matches?
“I have a pre-match visualization where I try to see different points in a match and how to adjust in my head, so that when I get to the match, if I’m in that position, I know what to do.”
Ultimate goal in tennis?
“My ultimate goal is to win a grand slam.”