Winning the family event means to Nicolas Jarry tasting the sweet after the bitter
SANTIAGO, Chile – Little Juanito Jarry can’t understand what’s going on on that noisy tennis court, but he waves a tiny racquet and smiles. His father, Nicolás Jarry Fillol serves for the match. One of the most important moments in the career of the 27-year-old tennis player.
And then in the arms of the man who is already Chile Open champion, he continues to steal the spotlight. He wants to eat the microphone with which his father communicates in English for TennisTV, while the audience whistles. They want to hear him speaking Spanish after his 6-7(5), 7-6(5), 6-2 victory over Argentina’s Tomas Martin Etcheverry in the final.
It’s all very familiar. The 1.98-meters-tall Chilean receives the trophy of six triangular copper laminates imitating the Andes Mountains from the hands of his grandfather Jaime Fillol. In the 1970s, Fillol was the most prominent Chilean figure on the international tennis scene. He was ranked 14th in the world, Davis Cup runner-up with the Chilean team, and a quarterfinalist in the US Open. The right person to award his grandson in the tournament organized by his family.
Catalina Fillol, Jaime’s daughter and Jarry’s aunt, is the tournament director. The only Latin American woman at the head of an ATP event, she spent much of her young years watching her family around the organization of the tennis championship. “My mom delivered the coffee. She even washed the players’ clothes if the laundry was late,” she told journalist María José Blanco in an interview with Forbes. From 1993 to 2014 the Fillol (with brothers Jaime and Alvaro at the helm) raised the Chile Open before it gave up its space in the ATP calendar for five years. There was little interest from brands in bringing tennis events without great Chilean representatives on the scene.
In 2019 the return was confirmed and Jarry’s family took control again. This time, under the name of the production company “SACS”, carried by the second generation of the Fillol family. They were setting up the tournament as a Challenger, while the young tennis player’s career took off, along with another Chilean: Cristián Garin, champion in 2021.
But Jarry could not participate in that edition. He was banned from entering the facilities after testing positive in a doping control in the 2019 Davis Cup. At the beginning of the 2020 season he was notified that Ligandrol and Stanozolol, banned substances, had been found in his body. “This is one of the hardest moments I have ever faced in my life,” he said in a statement.
He received an outpouring of support from the tennis world. Even Rafael Nadal said he was putting his hands in the fire for Jarry’s innocence.
Despite proving that he was not guilty (the supplement he ingested had been contaminated in the laboratory in Brazil) and not losing too many tournaments since several were cancelled due to the pandemic, Jarry disappeared in the ranking and had to start from scratch. He went back again to the Future tournaments and little by little he recovered his level.
“It took me to start again from scratch, which is very difficult. It gave me the opportunity to make changes that in other circumstances are more difficult to do. Since then I am happier on and off the court. I’ve grown a lot more and I’ve been able to get closer to my loved ones,” he told CLAY in an interview done in Australia in January.
“Mentally I did a reset. I changed everything in my life. I have new priorities: living in the present, enjoying family and friends, having a healthy life and constantly learning from mistakes and giving the best of myself. I’m moving forward,” he confessed at the time.
With the triumph in his hometown, and the semifinals in Rio de Janeiro (he lost to Carlos Alcaraz), the Chilean was on the verge of the top 50 in the world. Two years ago he had no ranking points. He is certainly is moving forward.