Luciano Darderi, the best Argentine youth tennis player, plays for Italy: “I didn’t get much support there”

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He decided to cross the Atlantic at the age of 14. His bet is going well: he received an invitation to play the classification of the Masters 1000 in Rome. “I see my mother only two months a year,” says the boy, born in Villa Gesell.

Luciano Darderi He was born in Villa Gesell and when he was just three years old, he picked up a tennis racket for the first time and began to practice shots with a ball, following in the footsteps of his father, Gino, a former player and teacher. Today, as you take your first steps as a professional, it is the best-placed Argentine in the junior world ranking of the ITF, in which he is ninth. But next to his name the blue and white flag does not appear, but a green, white and red one.

About four years ago, he made the decision to represent Italy, an option that opened more doors for him to develop his career. That bet worked out well for him, because a few days ago he received a special invitation to contest the classification of the 1000 Masters in Rome and he became the fourth player born in 2002 to enter the qualy of a contest of that category.

“It is a very important tournament and it is all very new for me. I am going to face players located in the top 100 of the ATP ranking. Rafael Nadal, Stan Wawrinka, will play in the main draw. Matteo Berrettini, all top. If I pass the classification, I could come across one of them. Being able to play this type of tournaments being so young is a very great and very beautiful experience, to make the most of it “, reflects Darderi in conversation with Clarion from Rome.

After practicing his first shots in the Gelsen fields, the Buenos Aires native moved to Buenos Aires and at the age of six he began playing at the Club Harrods Gath & Chaves. But at 14, faced with the few opportunities that came to him from the Argentine Tennis Association, he chose to take new directions, taking advantage of his Italian heritage.

“When I was a boy I had come to Italy a couple of times to get to know. And then I began to go more and more to play tournaments, because in Europe there are many more options than in South America. But the trips to compete were expensive and in Argentina I did not receive a lot of financial support and they didn’t call me much to represent the country either. So with my dad we decided that I should start representing Italy, as he had also done when he was young, “explains Darderi.

-How did that possibility appear?

-Actually, I signed up to do it, because I couldn’t play in Argentina anymore. So we started looking for other ways to gain more and more experience. I had an Italian passport and that gave me the opportunity to base here and play in Europe, where there are more tournaments and everything is closer. In addition, receiving the support of the Italian federation, which helps me pay for travel, gives me some per diem and also some wild cards for important tournaments like the one in Rome.

Installed in Rome, Luciano took advantage of the opportunities that were presented to him. It got to be third in the European ranking sub 16; reached the semifinals – he was third – in the Tournament Future Milan, one of the most prestigious in this category after the Orange Bowl. And at 16 she was a finalist in the Junior Davis Cup with the Italian team.

Last year, he played his first two professional tournaments and added his first ATP ranking points; today it ranks 1,316th in that ranking. She also played in the junior teams of the Australian Open – she overcame qualifying and lost in the second round – and the US Open.

This 2020 started it with everything. Before the season was stopped due to the coronavirus pandemic, he stacked three victories in Grade 1 tournaments, the most important of the junior circuit. It was consecrated in Cuenca, Ecuador; Asuncion, Paraguay; and Porto Alegre, Brazil, and managed to climb to number eight in the world, its best historical position.

During the months of suspension, he continued working in Italy alongside his father, who is now his coach. “I arrived in Rome on February 28, when the pandemic had not yet broken out, to play professional tournaments for money. And we decided to stay here with my father and my brother Vito, who is also a player,” he says.

“My father, my brother and I are living in this city, where we are based. But my mother is in Argentina and I see her only two months a year, when I go in December and January to do the preseason and play some tournaments there. Being away is difficult“, he says, who from a young age learned to speak Italian and some English, as well as Spanish.

Last week he entered thanks to an invitation to the main draw of the Cordenons Challenger and in the debut he hit a bump. Because he defeated the French in three sets Antoine Hoang, second favorite and 128th in the world, and celebrated his first ATP victory.

Now there will be the pleasure of playing the qualy in Rome, which will start on Saturday, thanks to the Italian Paolo Lorenzi unleashed a wild card by directly entering the box. Thus, he became the fourth player born in 2002 to enter the previous instance of a Masters 1,000. The American had already done it Zane Khan in Miami 2019 and the Italians Lorenzo Musetti (Rome last year) and Matteo Gigante, who had received an invitation to the contest in the Italian capital a few days before Darderi.

“I want to continue making experience and play more and more professional tournaments. I would like to be among the top 20 in the world ranking and be able to make a living from tennis,” says Darderi excitedly. the Argentine who, in search of more support and better opportunities, chose to wear the Italian jersey to go hunting for his dreams.




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