IN an ace move earlier this month, the Jewish club in the northern suburbs of Buenos Aires, where world number 13-ranked Diego Schwartzman first learned his craft, inaugurated its new tennis complex in his honour.
Schwartzman, who attended the ceremony at the Hacoaj Sport Club in Tigre – and even had a hit with some members – said, “I’m very happy, because I started playing tennis here, and I’m very grateful to be here at the naming of the central court – it’s very special”.
“This place was very different when I used to come to mess around with my friends – there weren’t enough courts, and the big boys didn’t allow us kids to play, so I practised against the wall.
“Years later, some of them still didn’t want me to play, but that was because I started to beat them,” he added, smiling.
The club – a major sport and cultural centre – now has about 7500 members, and will host the international Tigre Cup tournament in 2022 for the first time.
A sign on its central court now bears Schwartzman’s name, and the message: Born and raised in Hacoaj.
In a further honour last week – this time on a national level – Schwartzman was awarded Argentina’s Olimpia de Oro (Golden Olympian) trophy in recognition of his tennis achievements.
“It’s incredible to achieve these dreams that I had as a child,” Schwartzman wrote on Instagram after receiving the award.
One of the secondary Olimpia awards was won by Jewish futsal player Matias Edelstein, who has helped the Jewish club Hebraica remain in Argentina’s top futsal league for a decade, and this year played for the country’s national men’s team, which made the Futsal World Cup final in Lithuania.
Schwartzman will play next in the ATP Cup in Sydney from January 1-9, where he will represent Argentina, ahead of the Australian Open in Melbourne.
Also at the ATP Cup, Russian-Israeli Aslan Karatsev will represent Russia, and Canada’s team will include Denis Shapovalov and Peter Polansky.