The story of that opportunity begins with Alcaraz’s grandfather’s decision decades ago to develop tennis courts and a swimming pool at a hunting club in El Palmar, a suburb of the city of Murcia. It would have been cheaper to put in all hardcourts, but the Spanish love the red clay. So Grandpa Alcaraz (another Carlos) made sure to include those courts with the development.
Now flash forward to a dozen years ago. López Rueda is the tennis-mad chief executive of Postres Reina, which is based in Caravaca de la Cruz. But López Rueda doesn’t just like tennis; he likes to play tennis on red clay. He lives in the same region as the Alcaraz clan, and the best and most accessible clay courts for him are at a club in El Palmar, so he plays there, said Jose Lag, a longtime Postres Reina executive and an Alcaraz family friend, who spoke on behalf of his boss, López Rueda.
At the club he became friendly with Alcaraz’s father and played as the doubles partner of his uncle. Also, López Rueda’s son, who is three years older than Alcaraz, had the same coach, Kiko Navarro, who could not stop raving about the talents of Carlito. One day López Rueda agreed to watch the boy play and it was unlike anything he had ever seen. Carlito had everything, but his family’s resources were limited. His father was a tennis coach and administrator at the club, and his mother was busy raising the boy and his younger siblings.
López Rueda agreed to loan the family 2,000 euros to travel to a tournament, but then he started to think bigger and decided to get his company involved in supporting this local boy who was already capable of beating taller, stronger and older competition.
Postres Reina had long supported local basketball and soccer teams, but tennis was López Rueda’s favorite sport and the company had never sponsored an individual athlete. Alcaraz became the first, wearing the company logo on his shirts.