Ricardo Rosas grew up in Mexico playing on the junior circuit. As a junior he had great success – playing in the U.S. Open, French Open, and Wimbledon at 18 years old. After his junior career, Rosas played for four years on the ATP Tour and represented his home country in several international events, including the 1994 Davis Cup.
Now, as the head coach of the Miami RedHawks, he admits that he would not go straight into professional tennis if he had to do it all over again. He would play college tennis first. While he can’t go back in time, Rosas is sharing the lessons he has learned with his student-athletes.
ITA | What are your thoughts on opportunities available for Latinos in college tennis?
College tennis offers tremendous opportunities for Latinos to embrace and experience a very successful path to develop at a personal and professional level. Academics and Athletics is a powerful combination to excel in life and a great place to start your education and pursue doors to opportunities in the business world.
ITA | Why is Hispanic Heritage Month important to you?
It is important because it brings a sense of peace and an awareness to slow down, think, and be thankful about your heritage and how far you have come in your personal and professional career. To continue to set an example for future generations to embrace opportunities through education, sports, hard work, and perseverance.
ITA | How has your Hispanic heritage influenced you in your sport?
Every time you have the opportunity to compete at any sport at a high level representing your country’s Hispanic heritage has always been the driving force behind. You always want to represent your Hispanic heritage with love and honor. Competing for something way bigger than yourself.
ITA | What Latino tennis players did you look up to while you were playing?
I think of Gigi Fernandez, Mary Joe Fernandez, and Gabi Sabatini on the female side. Gustavo Kuerten, Nicolas Lapenti, and Marcelo Rios, I had the opportunity to compete against them at the junior level, and they went on to have excellent careers.
From Mexico, we have great examples like Raul Ramirez, Rafael Osuna, Antonio Palafox, Pancho Contreras; they were the catalyst for Mexico to open the path to other generations to accomplish great things through college and the game of tennis. And recently such an inspiration to see Gugu Olmos from Mexico and Marcelo Arevalo from el Salvador reaching the mixed doubles final at the US Open.
ITA | What barriers are there for Latinos looking to get into college coaching?
The biggest barrier is within yourself; you have to step forward and leave your country. Opportunities, many times, are inconvenient, but you have to be willing to start from the bottom and work yourself up the ladder. I am thankful for college tennis coaching; it allowed me to get out of my comfort zone and push me to finish my education. Another big barrier is the limited work VISAs from universities. I know many good ex-college players/coaches who cannot get into college tennis because of the limited sponsorship of work VISAs.
ITA | You coached the Mexican National Team in the 2018 and 2019 Fed Cup. How special was it to you to be able to represent your home country in those tournaments?
Yes, I was fortunate to get the call and invitation from another Latino coach, a good friend and excellent coach, and the captain of the Billie Jean King Cup (Fed Cup) team, Mexico’s Agustin Moreno. It was very special, and there is nothing like it when you have the opportunity to serve, contribute and be part of the national team. It is truly an honor to represent Mexico. It was even more special because the Mexican national team had former college players Fernanda Contreras from Vanderbilt and Gugu Olmos from USC that helped the team advance to the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas Play-offs.
ITA | You live in the United States, coach in the United States, but of course have ties back to Mexico. What is home to you now?
Where is home now? When I played ITF juniors and pro tournaments, my base was at Gary Kesl’s tennis academy in Deerfield Beach, Florida. Since I was 15 years old, the United States always felt like home to me. Today, after 21 years living in Ohio, becoming a US Citizen in 2008, I can say Oxford, Ohio is truly home for me. But my roots, blood, and heart will always be connected to Mexico.
ITA | How can the tennis community increase access to the sport for Latinos?
A possible way to increase access would be by providing free clinics or have Hispanic Heritage Month tournaments similar as we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month.
ITA | You made the decision to not go to college, but to start your professional career. What would you say to juniors considering that same route today?
That’s correct, glad you asked the question because if I ever had to do it all over again, it is the one thing I would do differently for sure. I would advise any junior considering the professional route to go to college to develop as a person and as a player. College provides all the necessary tools to develop the game’s mental, emotional, physical, and tactical aspects. Plus, you develop a tough match mentality working together as a team. If you can succeed with the ups and downs that tennis throws at you at the collegiate level, you will be more prepared and have a better chance to embrace the professional route’s journey.
ITA | You played in three of the four Majors as a junior. What is one of your favorite memories from that experience?
Playing at the French Open, Wimbledon, and US Open as a junior was a great experience and accomplishment as a player representing your country. Favorite memories are reaching the 3rd round at Wimbledon and doubles semifinals at the US Open.
ITA | Now living in Ohio, how do you stay connected to your Mexican culture?
I stay connected through family; I have two sisters living in Mexico. This summer, we did a little reunion in Queretaro, Mexico, and of course, ate some really good authentic Mexican food. When possible, we always try to find time to visit Mexico.