Interview with Emilio Sánchez, CEO and Founder of the Academia Sánchez-Casal.
This year, Sánchez-Casal Academy celebrates 20 years of history. What does Emilio Sánchez Vicario think of when he looks back over the past 20 years?
This December, we begin the celebration of our 20th anniversary. When I look back, I can tell you that we have helped many athletes take some amazing personal journeys, and that we were a fundamental part each and every one of those journeys.
The academy is a never-ending source of joy to me, as I see the journeys of the student-athletes become part of their DNA, and they use the skills and values that they learned here for a long time after they leave. I cannot forget that we are what we are thanks to the people and the staff. It is people who take care of people, and this is our biggest strength, because our people are special and make a real difference. I could not be more grateful to the people who are still with us after all these years, but also, to the ones who left and took their own different paths. Therefore, I say thank you to all of them. ASC has become what it is today, a great Academy, on the back of their hard work, effort and dedication.
Does the academy have something of your own personality?
I’m a dreamer. I follow my dreams, I keep going even when it’s difficult, and I persevere. Dreams keep me alive and awake, and my biggest dream is making students dream, but they should dream big, and dream to become the best version of themselves. Every child should become the best version of themselves that they can be, and that’s not an easy thing to achieve.
How did the idea of opening a tennis academy with its own school begin?
ASC was founded in November 1998. ASC was created in order to fill a gap that existed in Europe, as there were no opportunities back then to combine high performance tennis with high school studies. We soon realized that we were a potent force for creating opportunities in tennis, education and life. This sentence soon become our mission, and since then it hasn’t changed. We became experts in how to guide student-athletes, coaches, and adults in their development as tennis players, at the same time as working hard on their education.
After 20 years of history, what are you most proud of?
I could easily talk about being proud of results, success, titles, or top players, but my biggest joy comes when I realize that we didn’t only build tennis champions, but that we are also great in technical training, that we have developed an incredible teaching system, that we know how to coach, and we have experts in physical and mental training. However, where we are really better is in maintaining our values. We are respectful, we all work really hard, and approach the immense jobs ahead of us with a discipline that is non-negotiable. Therefore, our biggest asset is that we build Character.
But building character is not easy. How do you do it?
You are right, it’s not easy, but we teach values rather than just talking about them. Values are taught by example, and my team has those values imprinted on their identity. If I analyze my behavior as a player, or my siblings’ behavior, we were respectful, we made a huge effort every day and we were very disciplined. Sergio Casal was the same, and everyone on our ASC staff shares these values. You simply cannot work with us without them.
When students come to ASC, they don’t have a lot of experience, but when they leave, they know they have learned something that will help them for any life match they play in their future. Values build character, and the right attitude can multiply the outcome, so parents often congratulate us and thank us for helping their children work on those values and develop their character.
Does Emilio Sánchez think that the Academy has been successful during the past 20 years?
Our success depends on the success of our players, and their success is not to win, but to become the best competitor that they can become, and the only way to do this is through character. When our student-athletes make the right use of basic values, then we know that we have been successful.
You have students coming from all over the world, is that an advantage or a difficulty?
The journey at ASC is very fulfilling, and student-athletes become part of a huge family of kids from every continent. The sharing of each person’s story makes the overall story of our academy even stronger. All of our top players have similarities: they work really hard, they are professional, they care for the others, and are respectful, but they are also all-around players with great technique, they apply tactics well, they are physically strong, and they have amazing minds, regardless of where they’re from.
What would you say to a young tennis player who wants to succeed in this sport?
I´m waiting for you at Barcelona or Naples to define and to work hard on all four pillars: Technical, Tactical, Physical and Mental. Do it through our three-core values Respect, Effort, Discipline and develop your Character with us in order to become the best that you can become.
Interview with Emilio Sánchez
CEO and Founder of the Academia Sánchez-Casal