Editor’s Note: Due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, Bolivia’s Hugo Dellien waited almost two months before meeting his baby daughter in Paraguay. He blogged about the experience for ATPTour.com during the agonising wait. The image above with his wife and daughter was provided to us on 20 June, four days after the family came together for the first time.
Because of COVID-19 travel restrictions, I haven’t been able to see my wife, Camila, since March, or our newborn daughter, Mila, who was born on 25 April. But at long last, I’ll soon get to see Camila and hold my daughter for the first time.
We had to appeal through the Bolivian Foreign Ministry and the Paraguayan government agreed to let me in since Camila is from there and our marriage took place in Paraguay. I’ll travel from my hometown of Trinidad to Santa Cruz and then to Paraguay. I’ll first have to be in quarantine for two weeks, but it’ll be an incredible thing to then be able to see my daughter.
These past few weeks have had so many emotions. It’s a new stage in our lives. Being able to simply see my baby on camera gives me enormous happiness and I can only imagine what it will be like when I have her in my arms.
This all began in March when I was at Indian Wells. We trained on the day that we arrived, which was also the day that the event was cancelled due to COVID-19. We spent a few more days waiting there to see if it was possible to play another event, either the ATP Masters 1000 tournament in Miami or some ATP Challenger Tour events. Once it became clear this wouldn’t be possible, my team and I got on a plane to Buenos Aires. I’m based there along with my team and we thought about continuing to train, but never imagined this decision would be so important.
Four days later, the borders in Argentina were closed and I was no longer able to return to Paraguay to be with Camila. The borders in Paraguay were also closed. The only place that I could still go was Bolivia, so I decided to travel there and be with my family. Three months have passed since then and it remains difficult, but I continue to stay positive.
My emotions have been a rollercoaster. There are days that I am well and other days that are bad. The current situation has created more anxiety for me and a greater urge to leave the house, but I’ve accepted that I can’t do anything to change what is happening.
I’ve not been able to play tennis but have continued my training, although the motivation isn’t there on some days. I’ve set up a small gym at home and do two fitness sessions per day that my trainer sends me. The morning session focusses on strength and the afternoon session focusses more on cardio. I’m treating this almost like a preseason and trying to improve.
My family has also kept me in very high spirits. Sharing time with them after so long has been unique. I haven’t been with my family and in my house for more than a week at a time in at least 10 years. My brother, who lives in the United States, was also able to come home. It was very nice being together, but also strange, like going back in time.
Camila has also had good and bad days during this time, so it pains me to know that I can’t be there. She thought that raising a baby in this situation would be tough, but she adapted very quickly and quite well. We’re also lucky that Mila sleeps a lot and hasn’t gotten sick yet.
I have already prepared myself mentally for changing diapers and not sleeping much when I arrive home, but the most difficult stages of a new baby have already passed. It’s like I’ve arrived in the fifth set! Camila has endured the hardest parts and I’m very proud of her. We have video calls three or four times every day and she’s always sending photos of Mila, even if the baby is just sleeping.
Camila used to play professional tennis and we met because of the sport, so it will always be part of our lives, but I’ll definitely see things differently when the Tour resumes. Although I’m now having the best results of my career, nothing compares to being a parent.
Mila’s arrival puts everything else in the background. It’s the biggest trophy I could win. My family is a real success and I don’t need anything else if they’re stable, healthy, and living in harmony. We have achieved that and Mila is the icing on the cake.
As told to Marcos Zugasti