By Corey Hart,recognized as one of Canada’s most successful singer-songwriters.
Emilio Sanchez is not a man who pulls any punches. He wears his heart and passion on his sleeve.
A proud Spaniard who will never sugarcoat an answer to curry-favor an over zealous parent promoting their son’s unbelievable talent. An inveterate champion who will never camouflage his true thoughts by spinning “a fools paradise” prediction about a child’s future prospects on the Pro Tour just to be polite or for potential business.
No, not Sanchez. He’s blunt and honest. When you entrust your impressionable teenager into his tennis domain, Emilio’s aim is simple, direct and straightforward—namely to nurture, develop, and transform each individual athlete he works with into the highest-caliber performance tennis player.
So, above and beyond learning proficient ground strokes or clean volleys, the student/athletes are also inculcated with his philosophical ethics of discipline, self-sacrifice, and indefatigable commitment to see things through until the very end, regardless of the emotional pain or physical challenges that undoubtedly lie ahead.
Adversity is not feared; it’s actually advocated in Emilio’s tennis orbit because he believes it ultimately strengthens you as a player and person.
It’s not always easy. More often than not your kid will take ten steps back before making incremental surges forward, but if you can truly embrace Emilio’s visionary tennis acumen, your child will eventually reach their potential under his leadership.
Over the past thirteen years in Barcelona and Naples, my three daughters attended his acclaimed academy. As a parent slogging through tennis jungles for almost two decades, I’ve pretty much seen and heard it all from every angle or slice of the ball. When we committed to Sánchez-Casal back in 2005, I recognized that the journey wasn’t going to be a quick sprint to the finish line but rather a long arduous marathon race, testing our families resolve at almost every mile.
As I write reflecting on all those endless roads hard and well-traveled, I realize that standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Sánchez-Casal through thick and thin has been one of the best decisions I ever made for my family.
In September, our youngest girl River (now 17) heads off to the University of Minnesota on a full D1 Tennis Scholarship. I affectionately remember her as an adorable 5-year-old blonde firecracker joyously hitting backhands from the baseline on the red clay courts at Sánchez-Casal in Spain to the delight and merriment of all the coaches and older players watching her.
River’s childhood dreams of one day competing at Roland-Garros still burn bright. If not for Emilio and his fine coaching staff who have worked with River through the years, this would not have been achievable. Wherever her tennis career ultimately leads, the insignia of ASC will forever be etched in her heart and worn as a badge of honour.
I want to sincerely thank my friend Emilio for giving 110% effort each and every time he walked out onto the court with her to train. I want to thank him for caring about my daughter as if she were one of his own.
I want to thank him for creating a safe “home” and culturally diverse environment at the academy/school where all three of my girls made lifelong friendships with fellow alumni.
I want to thank him for always lifting River’s spirits up whenever she was going through turbulent seas by steering his fleet with a measured, yet firm hand. And on a personal note, to thank him for royally pissing me off 🙂 more times than I care to mention with his immutable stubbornness and tenacity to win every bloody discourse as if it were a tiebreak in a grand-slam final.
This is an unsolicited open letter from a parent who has walked the walk with Emilio Sanchez. There are unquestionably many fabulous tennis academies scattered around the world where you can send your children to learn this truly amazing sport—a sport which consistently offers you invaluable mind/body life lessons each time you pick up your racquet to hit a ball—but only one of these academies carries the legendary name of Emilio Sanchez-Vicario, and this, my friends, is worth its weight in gold.
Un fuerte abrazo querido amigo. Vaya campeón! Te llevo conmigo.
Nassau, June 28, 2017
Corey Hart is recognized as one of Canada’s most successful singer-songwriters selling over 16 million records worldwide and amassing 9 consecutive US Billboard Top 40 Hits while scoring an impressive 30 top 40 single Hits in his native Canada (including 11 Top 10’s during his career). He´s a Grammy Nominated, ASCAP & multiple Juno and ADISQ award winner. Hart has also written and produced several songs for fellow Canadian superstar Celine Dion.