From solitary darkness to family light: a journey through Nicolás Jarry’s mind

mente de Nicolás Jarry
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The phrase is one of the most revealing that has been heard about Nicolás Jarry’s darkest moment: “Doping was the best thing that ever happened to him”.

Chile’s number one tennis player was always very measured and cautious to refer to his eleven-month suspension for a positive doping that would be proven involuntary in 2020. In several of his last interviews and press conferences he made it clear that it was a past topic that was not worth mentioning anymore. But to understand the Nicolás Jarry who is 21st in the world, who recently played the quarterfinals at the Miami Open and who in February defeated Carlos Alcaraz in Buenos Aires, you have to know this tennis player who almost disappeared from the ranking and who was banned from professional tournaments.

The person who knows Jarry best speaks. Laura Urruticoechea, his wife and mother of their two sons Juanito and Santiago.

“Nico had time to see what he wants for his life, what man he wants to be. For someone who spends every week traveling, who has been dedicated to tennis since he was 13 years old, it was a good break. He had never been able to be with his family, with his friends, he took time to rest,” Urruticoechea said on “Mi mamá tiene un podcast”.

Jarry’s great present exists because at some point he found himself in the middle of a major storm. There the Chilean sought help, worked on his mind and did a “reset”.

Nicolás Jarry’s mind

In an interview with CLAY, Jarry explained that everything in his life has changed. “I have new priorities: live in the present, enjoy family and friends bonds, spend time with those who love me, have a healthy life and be constantly learning from mistakes and giving the best of myself,” he said during Roland Garros 2023, a tournament where he reached the round of 16, his ceiling in Grand Slams.

“I had to open up, I had to learn about myself, go through tough roads and get to know myself. That’s what made me the strong player I am today. I’m very emotional and sensitive, but also cerebral. I try to help all my emotions with my rational side,” he confessed.

He had explained months earlier in Australia that since he started everything “from zero” he is happier on and off the court. He also moved away from social networks because he couldn’t stand them anymore. He left his accounts in the hands of experts because he understands what they mean for sponsors: “in the end it is my image and I am aware of what I want to transmit”.

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A revolution in the way he views his interpersonal relationships, his career and his future plans. A renewed perspective on life itself.

Diapers and baby bottles on tour

The Jarry-Urruti are setting the beginning of a trend on the tour. They are the only family that travels full time with their children.

The average age of tennis players on the circuit is steadily increasing due to improvements in sports medicine and all that players invest in taking care of their bodies. If in the early 2000s, entering the 30s meant for players approaching retirement age, today it is considered a stage of early maturity.

Thus, the tour is gradually filling up with trolleys, baby bottles and diapers. Juanito Jarry is already a star in the corridors of the tournaments, he has had interactions with figures like Alcaraz and Ons Jabeur, and notorious appearances in big tennis stadiums.

“They love him a lot, he’s so cute. We always have him hanging around everywhere. He is very affectionate, he greets everyone. We let him explore, so several tennis players run into him all the time. He is already becoming known,” Jarry told CLAY.

Jarry and his family met Roger Federer in Shanghai during the Masters 1000 tournament in 2023.

Just as his grandfather Jaime Fillol did with his wife Mindy Haggstrom, traveling with  little Cecilia (Nicolás’ mother) in the 70s. From that time, Fillol himself highlights an remarkable anecdote.

“At Roland Garros, Mindy didn’t know where to change our daughter Cecilia’s diapers, there was no place for her to breastfeed peacefully. She couldn’t go into the women’s locker room because she was not a player. So she talked to Phillippe Chatrier, who was the president of the French Tennis Federation at the time. ‘How do I take care of my baby,’ she said. Chatrier gave her immediate access to the locker room, and promised to improve the infrastructure the following year,” Fillol said at the presentation of his biography during the Chile Open.

Haggstrom, who passed away in 2021, left that legacy on the tour. Today Jarry and Urruticoechea enjoy all the necessary amenities at tournaments such as nurseries and breastfeeding rooms.

Jarry has always found it difficult to coexist with the loneliness of professional tennis, so his lifestyle with his family has a direct impact on his results. More comfort? In 2024 they made a valuable addition to the team: they hired a babysitter who is travelling to the tournaments. The children will sleep with her in a separate room. The goal is to take maximum care of the father’s sleep.

Jaime Fillol
From the archive of the tour: During the 1970s, on the left, Jaime Fillol, Mindy Haggstrom and little Cecilia. Nicolás Jarry’s grandparents and mother.

The architecture Juan Ozón

In Jarry’s metamorphosis and his current success as a tennis player, there is an architect. Juan Ozón was his coach for three years, and one of the main responsible for his tennis and mental recovery.

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The Spanish coach himself explained what kind of person and player he found in mid-2021. “The Nico I found was a Nico who had suffered. Mentally he was hurt with everything that had happened. He had lost a bit of focus, and above all the right mental structure to generate this good relationship with tennis. Understanding where he was coming from we started to accept what had happened and to build a new mental structure to move forward from there”, he told “Tenis en Sintonía”.

Under Ozon’s orders, Jarry won two ATP titles (Santiago and Geneva 2023) and reached his best ranking (18th), at the end of 2023. “I saw his desire to play again and be a better version,” the Catalan said.

Surprisingly, that relationship ended during the off season. The coach presented a sporting project that demanded certain conditions to continue. In principle, they agreed with everything, but close to the date to get to work, some differences surfaced. “What Nico was proposing didn’t make sense to me, so we decided to amicably end our collaboration,” Ozón told the podcast of VTC.

Nicolás Jarry and  Juan Ozón. The spanish coach was key in Jarry’s recovery after the suspension // CHILE OPEN

Jarry chose former tennis player Juan Ignacio Chela to continue the work in a year where the challenges must be placed in the big tournaments, the only way to get closer to the top 10. In the last edition of Roland Garros, Jarry played in the second week of a major tournament for the only time in his 28 years. He has not been a major protagonist in such events, has lost surprise matches, and has not managed to stop any of the top players.

According to what Jarry himself told CLAY in London, again the big protagonist must be the mind. “I lacked a better focus in the Grand Slams, which are purely mental. They are so long that the tournament demands to be very strong inside your head. You have to withstand the moments of tension. I’ve been able to work on that very well in recent years and that’s why I’ve achieved radical changes,” he explained at Wimbledon. In that tournament he lost in the third round to the eventual champion: he battled for four sets against Alcaraz.

With the goal of performing well  on clay ahead, key in a year in which he can make an important leap, there is another phrase that his wife said, which reflects his deep relationship with tennis: “Even if Nico had been given a five-year suspension, he would have returned to play”.

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