NEW YORK – Isabela Iantosca, senior director of digital marketing for ESPN International, attended as many of the US Open tennis championships as she could the past two weeks.
Iantosca could savor the competition, which concludes today with the men’s singles final airing at 5 p.m. ET on ESPN International, as a reigning tennis champion herself. In July, the former Pepperdine University All-America won the Women’s 40 Singles in the USTA National Grass Court Championships in Forest Hills, N.Y.
“I found out about the competition through Gilad Bloom, a former [ATP] player and currently a tennis coach,” Iantosca said. “I’ve been working as his hitting partner for the Boys and Girls Juniors’ category at the current US Open. His wife approached me around Memorial Day and told me I should sign up for the [USTA] tournament.”
Iantosca spoke to USTA tournament organizers and managed to balance her job, in which she leads the strategy, planning, and execution of digital marketing initiatives for ESPN International, and the July 14-20 competition schedule.
“They were kind enough to allow me to play my matches during lunch time,” said Iantosca, who defeated top-seeded Trish Riddell 7-6 (4), 7-6 (5), for the title.
Iantosca grew up playing tennis in her native Mexico City and represented Mexico at the 1990 Central American Games there and the 1991 Pan-American Games in Cuba. She accepted a full scholarship to play NCAA Division I tennis at Pepperdine, where competing as Isabela Petrov (her maiden name) she won All-America citations in 1996 and 1997.
In spite of her hectic days at ESPN, where she has worked since 2000, Iantosca continues to practice tennis at least twice a week.
“Competition gives me energy and a goal to work toward,” she said. “I’ve learned that if you make the effort and set time aside, it’s possible to have a career and continue to pursue your passion.”
And she’s passing that passion for tennis on to her two children, who recently took up the sport and play with their mother.