Oct. 12, 2013
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Andres and Juan Estenssoro grew up around the sport of tennis, now the brothers are continuing together competing for the University of Iowa men's tennis program. In their second season with the program, Andres and Juan are glad to be together again.
Juan, two years older than younger brother Andres, began playing the sport when he was 8-years old. Andres followed suit at the same age.
"We had the tennis facilities nearby, which was nice," said Juan. "We played soccer as well, but when it came to soccer and tennis, we liked tennis a little more."
Growing up in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, the Estenssoro brothers had the influence of their parents to get involved with tennis. Their mother didn't play competitive tennis, but competed socially, while their father played collegiate tennis at Lees McRae College (N.C.) for two years before transferring to the University of Arkansas.
Juan, who won a Junior National title in 2007-08, was set to become a Hawkeye after high school, but didn't score high enough on the TOEFL test (a standardized test international students take to measure English comprehension) to qualify. Eventually, Juan would attend Wichita State to compete his first two years, but he kept up with the Hawkeyes.
"Even though I was at Wichita State, I kept a good relationship with (UI head) coach (Steve) Houghton," said Juan. "I saw him at a number of my tournaments, and we would talk and catch up."
While Juan enjoyed his teammates and his friends on campus, Juan was looking for more. When his brother started looking at colleges, Juan advised Andres to take a look at the Hawkeyes.
"With Juan being recruited by Iowa, I already had the contact information for the team," said Andres. "I sent emails to a bunch of coaches, but one of the main ones was Iowa."
Andres took his advice and became a Hawkeye, and a year later, the two were reunited.
"It feels pretty normal playing on the same team as Juan," said Andres. "We practiced back home every day for 12 years. Even though we stopped playing for 2-3 years, we're back together now."
While they are only able to get back to Bolivia a month out of the year for Christmas, Andres and Juan feel the support from their friends and family.
"Our friends back home can follow along via the team's Facebook and Twitter page, which is nice," said Andres. "We both have friends who play college tennis here in the United States, so they know more about how we are doing."
"Our family follows how we are doing, and they are proud of us," said Juan. "We are getting a good education, which is a big deal."
In the end, Andres and Juan are brothers, playing the sport they love, with whom they love.
"We are happy that we have the chance to be together," said Juan. "We're not just brothers, we are best friends."