Guido Pella Reflects On Retirement: 'It Was An Incredible Journey'
Guido Pella has a smile on his face and a tear in his eye at the same time. The 33-year-old Argentine knows that last weekend was not a normal one for him, quite the opposite. After a few intense months, he announced something that he had planned some time ago — his goodbye to professional tennis after 16 years on the ATP Tour.
For Pella, who reached the Top 20 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, his last match was a 7-6(5), 6-4, 6-4 defeat to Lloyd Harris in the first round of the US Open. On Court 14 at Flushing Meadows he proved that he still has the game, but perhaps his mind was already elsewhere. Despite the loss, he enjoyed himself in the company of his wife Stephanie, his daughter Arianna, his parents and his sister Catalina, also a tennis player.
“When I was on my way to the court, I couldn’t believe that it was something I would never do again,” Pella said. “But I didn’t say anything beforehand because I would have lost my desire if I’d spoken about it before playing in New York. And until the last moment, regardless of the decision, it’s like you have the excitement that if you win four matches, who knows what might happen?”
After the match, his entire family left on a planned holiday to Disneyland, their second-favourite place in the world after tennis courts. The Argentine thinks he has been there at least 35 times (and as many as seven times in the same year). He even proposed to his wife at Euro Disney. “Disneyland is still around partly thanks to me,” he laughed.
Those days of “freedom” were the last chance to process the end of a huge period of his life. Last Friday morning he returned to Argentina, and a few hours later he told his loved ones —— some had already known for some time — and the rest of the world that he was hanging up his racquet.
“It was an incredible journey, with so many amazing things that allowed me to experience moments that most people can’t and for that I’m eternally grateful,” he wrote on social media. On Sunday, Pella was able to say goodbye to his own people with a tribute during the Davis Cup World Group I tie between Argentina and Lithuania.
Born in Bahía Blanca, Pella moved to Buenos Aires at 14 to follow his dream of becoming a tennis player. Leaving his family and friends behind was painful for a young boy who knew he was destined to become a tennis player.
“From one day to the next I was told I had to go to Buenos Aires, because a sponsor liked how I played. One Sunday night, I went to say goodbye to my mum at the terminal and came to the city on my own, at a guesthouse in the Caballito neighbourhood,” Pella once recalled. “I said to myself, ‘What am I doing here?’ It was so hard. I remember that I cried for the first three weeks, every day.”
In a long career, he has made so many dreams come true, including winning the Davis Cup with his country (2016). In October 2021, having lost in the early rounds of the international team event, he put his racquets away and did not play again for over a year.
A chronic right-knee injury and the birth of his daughter kept him away from the Tour. However, his passion was reignited and he was able to enjoy some more wins recently at the elite level.
“In 2023, despite playing at a good level, I never felt the same... My team suggested I play until February for the Latin American clay swing, but I told them I wouldn’t make it. It was impossible. Tennis gave me everything, and now I feel a bit empty because tomorrow I won’t have anything to do,” said the former World No. 20, always with a smile on his face.
Champion of the ATP 250 in San Paolo in 2019, an ATP 500 finalist, an ATP 250 finalist a further three times, as well as a quarter-finalist at Wimbledon in 2019, Pella laughs nervously when he admits that he doesn’t know what he will get up to over the coming days. “I have too many mixed emotions. I feel loved by many of my peers, by the people, whose affection I have always felt, and that will stay with me,” he said.
What’s next for the Argentine? “The ‘new’ stage of my life,” Pella said. “The challenge of finding something that fulfils me like tennis always [did].”