The night before last we celebrated the 20th anniversary of Sánchez-Casal, with the whole Sánchez-Casal family in Barcelona. All together, we passed games and challenges in team building activities. There have passed twenty years since the Academy’s foundation but yesterday we all played as if we were children.
Dani Vallverdú was at Sánchez-Casal Academy Barcelona for a period of 3 years. As a player, he used to play a role like a coach, because he used to study the opponent and matches, analyzing errors and the best way to play against of other players with a special point of view.
It’s been 18 years since we founded the Sanchez-Casal Academy in Barcelona, and 4 since we opened our academy in the US. Our mission is very clear: to provide opportunities in both tennis and education. We have helped lots of students to go through college placement process and take advantage of the fantastic education system provided by the USA, which allows players that love a sport to practice it and attend college at the same time. In Spain and the rest of Europe, those possibilities quickly vanish. If you want to succeed in tennis or any other sport, you won’t find any infrastructure or competition.
The month of November has been a special time here at Academia Sanchez-Casal. First, we had our alum Andy Murray capture the number one spot in the ATP rankings and later during the National Letter of Intent (NLI) signing period we had six student-athletes formalize their commitments to some of Division I’s top academic and athletic schools: River Hart- University of Minnesota, Victoria Emma- University of Florida, Edson Ortiz Tovar- University of Alabama, Zummy Bauer- Georgia Tech, Tristan McCormick- Notre Dame, Fletcher Scott- University of Illinois. For these high school students, this event marked an important milestone and sets them on a path to continue their tennis careers while also earning a quality education.
Michelle Konkoly is all energy and determination. Last summer, the 24-year-old athlete saw her dreams fulfilled when she won 4 medals at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio and broke two Paralympic records in the S9 100m freestyle and the S9 50m freestyle.
Originally from Pennsylvania, at Georgetown Konkoly joined the university’s swimming team. Her life was changed dramatically, however, when in her freshman year she fell five stories out of her dorm window and was seriously injured. She fractured several ribs and a vertebra, damaged her spinal cord, and as a result, was left paralyzed from the waist down.
Many times we see tennis players motivating themselves on court, with phrases like “Come on!” or “Got it!”. Or we see how they give instructions to themselves, like “Fast!”, or “Position”. Is this useful for players? Do they do this in an instinctive way, or do they learn how to do it? Normally, these kinds of techniques are part of their training and the mental work they do, which every day becomes more and more important in the professional tennis world.
Today is one of those days when you walk around with a big smile on your face. I am proud of what I do; I am part of the journey helping others create opportunities in tennis, education and life. Therefore when you wake up and realize that one of your student-athletes has fulfilled his potential and becomes NUMBER ONE IN THE WORLD, it just fills you up with a sense of pride and accomplishment. Everything that you work for makes sense.