When you get to know coach Luchas, you realize his ability, his vision, and his mind. His attention to detail is above the ordinary; watching him distribute the 60 academy students and coordinate the ten or more coaches to fully implement the 360 system everyday is a true spectacle.
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.
I want to take this opportunity to introduce you to Vovodymyr “Vova” Nikolenko, another great traveling coach who has been on the Sanchez Casal team for many years. He started playing tennis early on at the age of 7 in his home country, Ukraine and arrived in Barcelona as a student-athlete in 2003. After high school, he decided he wanted to continue being a part of ASC and started coaching in 2006.
I recently had the pleasure of catching up with ASC player, Ramkumar Ramanathan, following his first ATP final at the 2018 Hall of Fame Open. We discussed everything from the outcome of the match to how he prepared for this final.
1258 kilometers of driving, 10 universities, 6 northeastern states and 111 tennis matches. We have just returned from the annual ASC-ES International School University Trip. This is not a typical university trip. Ours reflects exactly who we are – in both mission and values — as a tennis academy and a school.
Conversations, ideas, exploration, victories, disappointments, wins, losses, laughter, tears, discovery, and growth… the essence of our Academy embodied in the lives of 9 of our student-athletes.
It was 2014 when I first came across Academia Sanchez-Casal. I had just finished 10th grade and was frustrated with my daily life in India. I always felt like there was something holding me back and that I could perform better, both as an athlete and as a student. So, when I decided to join ASC, I came prepared to work hard and take my tennis to a new level, but what I got was truly something extraordinary. The two years I spent here was the most enriching years of my life. The quality of the tennis and fitness training was second to none, which was helped by a good, private international school. The coaches and staff made me feel as if I were a part of their family, so much so that 2 years after I graduated as the valedictorian of my class, I felt the urge to return to ASC as a coach.
A normal day at Academia Sanchez-Casal, Florida is not exactly a true statement. For our annual students, the day seems to be anything but ordinary. With three-hour practices in the morning, then school along with study hall in the afternoon, most can agree that being an ASC Florida annual student is more than just tennis practices and school assignments. As athletes, they must focus on their personal goals of whether they will go on to play college tennis or become a professional tennis player. As students, it is a different matter, they need to focus on their grades and their overall performance in school. Having the ability to balance out their passion for tennis and academics brings them a step ahead in life. However, the question still remains on what is life at the Academy? I have the answer to that question from past and present annual students: Emilio Sánchez, Victoria Sánchez, Adéle Fernández, Ritwik Chatt, and myself Ana Gabriela Canahuate Torres.
This June 22nd, 2018, a very special day will be celebrated here at the Sánchez-Casal Academy in Barcelona. A fresh new group of students will graduate, after 12 intense academic years, and it will be time for them to face the next stage in their lives. It is both a happy and a sad day as we say goodbye to people who have become part of our family.
This year, we celebrate 20 years in Barcelona, 6 in USA and 3 in China. Reaching these milestones made me think of all the ways my team has contributed to Academia Sanchez Casal’s success. Thanks to them, Academia Sanchez-Casal and our tennis teaching system have become recognized everywhere we go. To commemorate, I want to share a series of stories about the people who have helped us get to where we are today.
In a few months, Laura López, who started tennis training in the after-school program ten years ago, will achieve her dream of attending Boston College to play college level tennis while working towards a university degree. We had time to talk to her and hear her story; a story that she is happy to share with our current student-athletes, and anyone out there who might have the same dreams.