Argentine star Diego Schwartzman reaches tennis’ top 20


BUENOS AIRES (JTA) — Argentinean Jewish tennis star Diego Schwartzman won the Rio de Janeiro Open, raising his ranking to 18th position in the Association of Tennis Professionals, or ATP.

It is the first time that a Jewish player is among the top 20 in the ATP ranking since 1990, when the United States’ Brad Gilbert achieved 4th position. In 1987 Israeli Amos Mansdorf also was ranked 18th in the ATP.

Schwartzman, 25, on Sunday defeated the Spaniard Fernando Verdasco 6-2, 6-3 in the final of the Rio Open, the biggest tournament of South America in prize money and ranking, and his first ATP 500-level title.

“I’m very happy to break into the top 20,” Schwartzman said in an interview on the tournament website. “It’s a very difficult tournament, with top 10 (players), great players in the draw and when the week starts you don’t think you are going to play the finals.”

He grew up in a Jewish family in Buenos Aires and rose as a tennis player in the Hacoaj JCC sport club in the Argentinean capital

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Last week his entire family, including his biggest fan his Bubbe Celia, attended the Buenos Aires Open tournament to cheer him on.

In a corner of the court his parents, sister, two brothers, and his grandmother shouted their support. “I suffered like a crazy, but finally I’m happy for him, is a very good grandson, and despite his success he is still humble, he is still the same, he is still good people, a nice boy,” Bubbe Celia told JTA on the court of Buenos Aires Open after the match.

During last season, Schwartzman broke into the Top 25 in the ATP rankings for the first time and earned more than $1.5 million in prize money.