As Emilio Sánchez Vicario says, “Our academy graduates go to Harvard, they go to Columbia… but they also go to Wimbledon.” This is the main goal of the Academy, and to achieve it there is only one true method: offer the best high performance tennis training combined with an excellent academic education.
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.
Sport offers many opportunities to learn and grow, and this is as true of wheelchair tennis as it is of any other sport. Jesus, Juan, Jennifer, Rocio and Domingo are patients of the National Hospital of Paraplegics in Toledo and they attend the Emilio Sánchez Vicario Foundation wheelchair tennis school as an important phase in their recovery.
It’s 6:00am and Julia’s alarm clock sounds. Outside it’s still a bit dark and quiet. She prepares her tennis bag and grabs her racquet. She walks five minutes from the house to the cafeteria with some campers to meet the big group and have breakfast by 6:30am. Breakfast includes cereal, toast, ham and cheese sandwiches, fruit juice and milk.
At 7:00am she’s on the court to start her morning practice for three hours. It’s a sunny day as almost every day is in Naples, Florida. After tennis practice, she has an hour of fitness to stretch but also goes through a tennis specific performance training.
The big day had arrived. The dream final: Rafa against his archrival. Rafa spent months changing his game to be more aggressive and had created great expectations. The whole world of tennis predicted a great battle, even I thought it would be another epic final that would ultimately depend exclusively on the mental pillar.
At Sánchez-Casal Academy, the development of our long-stay players is very important to us. That is why we created the ASC Player Development and Competition Plan, summarized in the Sánchez-Casal Pyramid©, which shows players the path to success in the professional world of tennis. Do you want to follow the same path as Murray, Kuznetsova, Sanchez V, Dimitrov or Monaco?
“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.” Interview with Emilio Sánchez Vicario.
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.
From the 7th to the 14th of October, the Sánchez-Casal Academy will host the Sánchez-Casal Mapfre tournament, from the ATP Challenger Tour. This tournament will bring together international professional tennis players for the second most important tournament in the region.
The week in Mobile, Alabama went by fast and was solely concentrated on the tournament. It hit me at the trophy presentation when the announcer asked Jerry which places he liked most during his stay in Mobile, and Jerry answered, “the club was very nice”. We spent eight days in Mobile with very little time to go around and explore the town, but Jerry was cooperative and willing to sacrifice his free time because he knew he was there to win. This is the type of sacrifice a tennis player must make in order to achieve solid steps in his formation, even at thirteen years old. For anyone involved in helping young players, finding balance is an everyday dynamic. A kid is a kid, but in a competitive sport and environment like this, they need to develop professional skills from the beginning without losing their playful essence and “spark” that makes them fun individuals to be around.