TIGRE, Argentina (JTA) — One of Argentina’s main Jewish community centers inaugurated its news tennis complex in honor of hometown hero Diego Schartzman.
Schwartzman, currently ranked 13th in the world, was on hand at the ceremony held Dec. 11 in Tigre, as the Hacoaj sport club opened a new building and tennis lounge at what is one of the biggest tennis venues in the region.
Schwartzman grew up playing tennis at the center, whose central court was named “Diego ‘Peque’ Schwartzman” in his honor. “Peque” is a nickname meaning short or “kid”; at 5-foot-7-inches, Schartzman is one of the shorter professionals in elite men’s tennis.
“I’m very happy because I started playing tennis here. I’m very grateful to be here at the naming of the central court. It’s very special, I’m trying to enjoy the moment, “ Schwartzman told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency at the event. “It’s a beautiful club, beautiful country. We were born here, it’s very special for me.”
Schwartzman’s parents were present, too. His mother Silvana snapped photos and chanted “Peque, Peque” with the children attending the ceremony. Ricardo, his father, was close to tears during the whole event.
“This place was very different when I used to come to mess around with my friends,” said Schwartzman. “Some days we, the kids, just played in front of the wall, there weren’t enough courts so the big boys didn’t allow us the kids to play, so I practiced against the wall.
“Years later some of them still didn’t want me to play…but that was because I started to beat them” he added, with a big smile on his face.
Hacoaj (“strength” in Hebrew) is a sports and cultural club with around 7,500 members in Tigre, a city in the north of the Buenos Aires province.
Present at the event were the mayor of Tigre and the heads of the Jewish umbrella group DAIA, the sport federation FACCMA and the Tzedaka Foundation, a Jewish philanthropy. A representative of AAT, the national tennis association, announced that the international “Tigre Cup” will be held for the first time at Hacoaj next January.
Schwartzman also inaugurated a sign in front of the court, taller than he, which includes his name and career highlights: “Born and raised in Hacoaj. Top 10 tennis worldwide (2020). Olympic representative. Member of the Argentina’s Davis Cup team. Talent, perseverance, Jewish values, humility. A symbol and the pride of Hacoaj.”
To close the inauguration of the new court, Schwartzman played tennis for a few minutes with three Hacoaj members.