Issue #157

Ernesto Russo

Il Viandante del Tempo

Ernesto Russo is a professional multiple racquet sport US National champion and former high fashion, runway model.  Although Ernesto’s family is from the outskirts of Napoli, specifically Caserta and Casal di Principe, in the south of Italy, his family moved north to the suburbs of Milano so that he could pursue a career in tennis. Ernesto quickly became a top junior player in Italy as well as throughout Europe and competed against future ATP players such as Wavrinka, Bagdatis, Fognini, Seppi, and Bolleli. At the age of twenty, however, Ernesto was discovered by the owner of the international modeling agency Ricardo Gay and he walked the runways as a top and sought after model for luxury brands like Dolce and Gabbana, Armani, Versace, Prada, Dirk Bikkembergs, and Iceberg. In addition, he spent his 20’s modeling and acting internationally in China, Asia, and Hong Kong. While working in Asia, he also continued his passion for tennis and played on the professional Chinese tennis circuit where he became the number one ranked professional player on the China Tour and coached top Chinese rising tennis stars. At the age of 30, Ernesto traveled to the United States as a brand ambassador for a tennis clothing company and it was on this trip where he discovered Venice Beach and his new passion for life in California and paddle tennis. Ernesto quickly became one of the sports top players winning multiple National championships in three divisions, mixed, singles, and doubles. Recently, Ernesto started a new chapter in his racquet sports career and entered the PPA tour as a pro pickleball player. He is currently on pursuit to become top ten in the world and already is top 50 in the United States.  For the past three years, Ernesto has continued to pursue his passion for acting and filmed a reality documentary on life in Venice Beach centered around the personas of paddle tennis called ‘Kings of Venice’ which will release later this year.  Ernesto currently lives in Venice, California with his wife Katrina and stepson Luka and dog Freyja. In November of 2023, Ernesto will represent Italy in Torino at the National Italian Pickleball Championships.

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What do you do in your life (work and fun)?

I am a professional athlete, coach, husband and father. I train with my Norwegian trainer, Edward Hoili, who has changed my life and physique. Besides training, I enjoy time with my family and wife on the beach and love my Venice life. Additionally, I have a passion for poker and hope to follow in the footsteps of my father-in-law, Marvin Glusac, who was a professional tennis player and a professional poker player in Las Vegas and my pickleball coach Vinnie Van Patten, who also is the voice of the World Poker Tour and an actor and tennis legend. There is some sort of magical and mental connection between poker and tennis that for me goes hand in hand.

What made you leave Italy and chose Los Angeles?

I always knew since I was born that I would like to experience new places and new cultures and that I dreamed of living in California. I had always dreamed of space, time, and other galaxies. That is why Italy for me is a small but beautiful place in this big galaxy and I was always on the hunt for new horizons.

Please share your best memory in the City.

My father’s dream was always to come to America. My father, Giovanni Russo, came to visit me for three months in 2018. He was suffering from cancer and came to stay with me as a lifelong wish of his. When he returned to Italy after his visit he passed shortly five weeks later in November 2018. The time spent with him was truly a dream and something I will never forget.

What made you choose this specific location and outfit?

For me, Vasquez Rocks sparked dreams of other planets and galaxies, like a scene from a Star Trek movie. For me, this is a place where time stopped and star gates were built by aliens. To translate a line from a song from my father and my favorite composers, Franco Battiato, ‘Like a foreigner, I don’t feel bonds or feelings, and I’ll go from the cities, waiting for the awakening.’ The outfit I styled for this shoot is pretty particular and was inspired by the idea of a space traveler between planets. In my vision, if I could travel through star gates between different parallel universes, this would be the outfit.

Your thought about this project, ITALIANY.US

I think that this project is a genius idea. I admire the project and I am honored to be a part of it. Also, it is very interesting to show how creative people from another country have so easily assimilated into a foreign culture and have become so wildly successful. This demonstrates the creative power of the Italian people.

How would you describe being an ambassador of the Italian style/culture abroad?

I am very honored to be representing Italy because I love my country and culture and I truly believe that the Italian people are some of the most forward, gifted, and stylish in the world. I am sure this project will help people in the future to remember Italian history and recognize the immigrants that moved here from Italy. This is unbelievably cool to be a part of history in the making.

  • Agua Dulce Springs, CA

    72

  • Time

    360 mins

  • Shots

    72

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A visual celebration of Italians working, living and loving in NY and in the US