Diego Hidalgo is a 29-year-old professional tennis player from Guayaquil, Ecuador. Diego had an accomplished junior career having a career-high junior ITF ranking of #16 and went on to play college tennis at the University of Florida. He played number 1 singles and doubles at Florida his senior year and finished the year ranked #13 in singles and #3 in doubles achieving All America Honors in both. He is currently ranked #71 on the ATP Doubles tour and won his first grand slam main draw matches this year at Wimbledon and the U.S Open. Diego represents Ecuador in Davis Cup as well.
- What was your childhood like? How was tennis a part of your life growing up? At what age did you start getting serious?
I grew up playing every sport but mostly soccer. I am a die-hard soccer fan and follow every single league. I started getting serious about tennis when I won my first national tournament at age 11.
- At what point did you know you wanted to play college tennis in the U.S? What role did your parents have in that decision?
When I was 17, I had a couple of injuries that made me really learn how college tennis worked, and that helped me make the decision. I believe it was the best decision I made. My parents fully supported me in the decision which was key.
- What made you decide to go to the University of Florida? How big of a culture change was there? Did you have a hard time adjusting to college?
I decided to go to Florida for various reasons but mainly because of the coaching staff. Shelton, Amer Delic, and Scott Perelman were the coaches and they are amazing coaches. My transition from junior to college was very smooth, my teammates and coaches made it easy.
- Did playing those ITF Pro tournaments before college give you confidence knowing you would succeed in college tennis?
Yes for sure. I believe playing ITF juniors and pro tournaments helped me improve my tennis and also have a lot of confidence in myself.
- What was your favorite part about being a collegiate student-athlete?
I loved everything about it. Living at an amazing place like Gainesville, studying at a top university like UF, and also competing at the highest level.
- What was the most challenging moment you went through in college? How did you get through that?
At the beginning of college, I found the most challenging part was learning to study and practice at a high level. Also, my social life is a big part of my life so I had to manage those three areas and do them right. It took a couple of months but I got used to it and ended up being successful at all three.
- How did college tennis prepare you for the pro tour after graduation?
The competition in college is amazing. I felt like I was ready for anything after competing for a school like Florida. Sometimes I feel less pressure playing Davis Cup than I did in college.
- What tools did you learn in school that has helped you become a professional tennis player?
How to manage my time and be efficient with it.
- How important is it to play with the same partner consistently? What do you look for most in a partner?
I believe having a regular partner is very important to be successful in doubles. You need to be a team and know each other well and you can only learn how to play well by playing many matches together and growing as a team.
- What is your favorite part about representing Ecuador in Davis Cup?
I feel that I am not only playing for myself but for many people and that gives me goosebumps. It inspires me to play better.
- How special was it to win your first main draw grand slam match this year at Wimbledon and US Open?
It was very special. Something that I have been dreaming of since I started playing tennis. But now that I have accomplished that goal I am working very hard to keep reaching and setting new goals.
- What does a typical training session look like for a doubles player compared to a singles player?
I try to practice almost the same amount of hours that I used to when I played singles but I am focusing more on improving my net game and positioning. There are so many things that I am learning, I am probably practicing for more hours than when I used to play singles. I usually have 1 hour of fitness and two hours of tennis in the morning and then 2 more hours of tennis in the afternoon.
- What are your goals for the rest of 2022?
My long-term goal is to be a top ten player but my short-term is to be top 60. I am trying to set reachable goals so that way I can focus on the present.
- What is one piece of advice you can share with a college doubles player to help them be more successful?
Start watching a lot of the top guys playing doubles and learn about positioning. A huge part of the game is strategy.
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