JUNIOR SPOTLIGHT: Emilio Nava
Unfinished business is what Emilio Nava calls it.
The 16-year-old from Woodland Hills, Calif., continues to impress people who follow the game with his results on the ITF Futures Pro Circuit, but it was at the US Open Juniors where Nava’s thoughts continue to return this fall after an amazing run at the year’s final Grand Slam in September.
Partnered with Florida’s Axel Nefve, the pair fell 10-8 in the doubles final at the US Open.
Currently training on the clay in Spain, Nava reflected recently on the memory of playing in New York City and being oh-so-close to winning a Grand Slam title.
“It was one of the best experiences of my life,” he said. “Axel and I have a great chemistry and we feel we were not far from achieving our goal. So, a part of me was happy but not satisfied. It left a taste of unfinished business. I want to win for those who have backed me, family, friends and the USTA. So I am looking forward for next year.”
Nava called the US Open his favorite tournament. “When I played there, I felt great energy in and out of the court. Playing in your own country and feeling the support of the fans cheering for you it’s something special.”
Nava, whose cousin is current ATP men’s player Ernesto Escobedo, is training for the upcoming ITF juniors in November in Yucatan, to be followed by the Eddie Herr and Orange Bowl tournaments in south Florida.
He is traveling with his mother and coach former Xochitl Escobedo, was a No. 1 female tennis player in Mexico and represented her country in the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul. Nava’s father, Eduardo, was also a successful athlete as a track and field star for Mexico in the 1988 and 1992 Summer Olympic games, while also competing at Alabama in college.
As previously mentioned, Nava’s recent tournament success has been impressive, especially for someone who is only a junior in high school.
He recently reached the semifinals of the Quebec ITF Grade 1 in the juniors, but on the pro Challenge level reached the final round of qualifying at the Monterey, México, Challenger ($150,000) and lost in the second round of the Costa Mesa Futures main draw. At Laguna Niguel, Nava won four rounds of qualifying matches before falling in the quarterfinals of the main draw.
Nava said his family has played a big role in his becoming a player being sought after by all the top college tennis programs around the nation. His brother Eduardo currently plays for men’s reigning national champion Wake Forest University.
“My maternal grandfather is the one who started tennis in the family,” Nava said. “He saw tennis played in U.S., and returned to Mexico and built a tennis court. My mom has 10 brothers and sisters and they all played when younger. Obviously, it carried through our generation and now is part of our DNA.”
Nava doesn’t have to go far to find the competitive spirit his parents and older brothers implanted into him. “I grew up in a competitive and athletic family,” he said. “Both of my brothers grew up playing tennis, being the youngest I looked up to them. I wanted to be like them, and I wanted them to pay attention to me. I love tennis and the adrenaline and challenges that come with it.”