It is often said, and rightly so, that processes do not receive the results they deserve. In other situations, fortunately, it does. Many will hear at this time the name of Tomás Martín Etcheverry. And it's logical. The 23-year-old is making history at Roland Garros. He is writing a new page in the memory books of Argentine tennis with this great tournament. But, above all, it is building its own history. The road is being made as it walks.
You will already know that he was born and lives in La Plata, that he has a dog called Rola for his favorite tournament and that he has an impressive physique (1.96 meters high) and tennis that is growing day after day. But here comes the most substantial part that has to do with trying to understand (and explain) how he made this leap in quality.
I had to cross paths and meet Tomy in a Challenger tournament prior to the qualy of Roland Garros, in the edition that was played in the middle of the pandemic. It was in Romania, on the Iasi Challenger. We shared the transport and introduced ourselves at that time. He was playing the rankings and had just gotten into the top 300 of the world rankings. The trip was short but enough to realize that he was a lovely, respectful and passionate about tennis guy. He told me that in his time as a junior he never felt like a sacrifice going back and forth every day from La Plata to Buenos Aires to train. Quite the opposite. There was a kind of gratitude, he felt lucky because he could develop his passion.
Looking to heaven to thank Magalí, her sister who died in 2022 victim of breast cancer. Photo: AFP
I remember that days later, in a second round match after having drawn the classification, he had to face the player who was working with me. After the game, we also had to return to the hotel together. The truth is that I congratulated him from the bottom of my heart because you could already see that his tennis had a lot of potential. A huge glow was beginning to appear. And I came out to say, with total honesty and sincerity: "Don't be sorry for this result." It is that clearly his face and his mood were those of someone who had been eliminated from a tournament. At that moment I pointed out to him the enormous and auspicious road ahead.
It was not very difficult to imagine that upward path because he already had a spectacular physique and because he did everything very well. It was a matter of understanding the game a little more, of getting more out of his power, of being a little more aggressive from the back of the court and starting to impose that rhythm, that enormous physical capacity and speed that appeared very naturally in those times.
Returning to this great moment, personally, it was always very difficult for me to separate the person from the athlete. In this case, writing about Tomy is something that fills me with joy. Because what he is experiencing is a prize for a humble, kind boy, with good wood. They are the kind of people who greet you by looking into your eyes and transmit honesty and nobility. He owns a transparent look that says everything and you can not be born another feeling other than the desire to do super well.
From everything I tell you, this present for me is far from a surprise. Just look at the historical progression of its ranking. That says too much. His ranking was always in a constant and sustained ascent without major ups and downs. At most, he lost some places because others who also do things well surpassed him.
Pure power. One of the keys to the game of Tomás Martín Etcheverry. Photo: AFP
He knew how to turn that great physique into that of a true athlete. It is powerful and coordinated. To that game he already had he added strength, clarity, forcefulness from the back of the court and, above all, regularity. Thus he was convinced that he has in his power the ability to continue growing and to continue climbing when the mountain gets steeper.
And that was a great success also of his experienced and great coach, Wally Grinovero, who began to find greater audacity in his game. So, what we talked about his speed and his transfers, which he usually used to defend and to contain, he began to capitalize on to hurt and to punish. In today's tennis you have to know how to endure because you can not always dominate, but clearly Tomy understood that he had to go for more, that he had to encourage much more. And that is paying off today.
Passion, discipline, professionalism... Also intelligence to understand that to grow, to be successful, it is not necessary to be champion or lift trophies. Because Tomy is an example, he is a standard-bearer of the purest essence of sport. He relies on his values, his humility and his tireless character to build those wings that will allow him to continue flying on the circuit. Always with the security and with the guarantee of knowing that your roots will always mark your origin. You'll never forget where it came from. He will never forget his native La Plata.
Special for Clarín.