By Tucker Verdi
That was the chant one-half of the crowd at Court 1 belted out in support for their favorite son at the 2018 Miami Open and the only Chilean in the main draw, 22-year-old Nicolás Jarry.
The other half of the crowd, however, was pulling for his opponent, the fiery Argentinian who stands only 5 feet, 7 inches tall, World No. 16 Diego Schwartzman.
At 12:30 in the afternoon on a Friday in March, Court 1 at Crandon Park Tennis Center had the energy and aesthetic of a soccer match between the neighboring countries. Though Schwartzman prevailed over Jarry 6-3, 6-2, the support for both players never wavered, with shouts of “¡Vamos!” coming down often.
Schwartzman’s compatriot Juan Martín del Potro, adored by fans around the world but particularly those from his home country, spoke of getting the chance to see these passionate fans at the Miami Open.
“I like to see Argentinian fans around the courts, Latino-American people,” the 2009 Grand Slam champion said in his Wednesday press conference. “You know, Miami has a large Argentinian, how do you say, society, living here in Miami, so I meet them everywhere.”
The Miami area has been long defined culturally by its Latin influences, representing an eclectic heritage from the Iberian Peninsula and South and Central America. Generations of immigrants have sculpted the uniquely diverse community, one that provides a natural bastion of support for Latin players in the tournament.
Puerto Rican player Monica Puig, who won the 2016 Olympic gold medal and calls Miami home, finds comfort and strength in the crowd here that cheers her on. Under the lights Wednesday, Puig pulled out a tough win over 2011 Aussie Open champ Sam Stosur that went deep into the night.
“It’s amazing to play here,” Puig expressed on court after the win. “I’m playing at home in front of all my family and friends and all the Puerto Ricans out there, los quiero mucho.
“I’m just looking forward to playing another match in front of my home crowd… so I’m ready to go.”
However long her run is in the tournament, Puig will no doubt have that crowd support to lean on during the tough matchups that lie ahead of her.
The Miami Open has long been celebrated as a great, competitive tournament. But for years, it has also been regarded as an immersive experience for players and visiting fans as they get to experience the food, art, and history that shaped the region.
That will continue, and make the Miami Open a truly singular tour experience for players and fans of the game. And for Latin players in particular, it provides the opportunity to feel the love of a home crowd even thousands of miles from home.
A shout of “¡Vamos!” is never too far away.