By Emilio Sánchez Vicario, CEO & Founder at Sánchez-Casal Academy.
#08 Respect your teammates. Respect them because they have the same objectives as you.
This is the first quote about values, something I consider very important and that I have always wanted to highlight during my time as a player, later in our Tennis Academy and finally as captain of the Davis Cup: you should always be respectful towards your teammates, because you are part of a team and you will need them at some point.
Tennis is an individual sport, and in competitions and on the court you are essentially playing one on one with a rival in single. However all the preparation, the travel etc. is normally done in a team, the team who stands by you in both the best and worst of times – or at least that’s how I have experienced it.
Teammates who you train with, travel with, warm up with before a game, teammates who you learn from, who you can play doubles with. In my case Sergio Casal and I created a doubles team that lasted for many years, and then went on to found the Sánchez-Casal Academy, a physical symbol of our respect for each other.
I remember one tournament in Kitzbuhel. It started raining and we couldn’t play on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. We started to play on Friday, and on that day Sergio lost, but I played two singles and one doubles matches; then on Saturday another two singles and one doubles matches, and I finally got into the singles final and the doubles semifinal. I played the final best of five, and I won it. I was exhausted, I didn’t want to play, but there was my partner looking for me and I couldn’t give up. We played the semifinal and we won, and after half an hour we went back to the indoor court and Sergio fought for both of us, he did it by himself, he was a great and respectful partner. And we won.
In other words, from this relationship, from those same dreams, from those same difficulties, from the same excitement, this tip –which to me is fundamental– came up:
“Respect your teammates. Respect them, because they have the same objectives as you”.
Sergio Casal told me that during the time we travelled together and played as a doubles team in numerous tournaments, and especially in the Davis Cup, he learned a lot about respect and teamwork. There was a time when we worked so well together that he knew beforehand what I was going to do on court, and vice versa.
To replicate that, when he travelled on tournaments with Svetlana Kuznetsova, he encouraged her to play doubles with Martina Navratilova, so that she was imbued with these values.
That’s also the reason why today at Sanchez-Casal Academy, our joint project, we encourage our players to play doubles and learn from the team dynamics.
As a value, the respect for your teammates is something which everyone learns at the Sánchez-Casal Academy from the first day they arrive as a student and start living alongside others from all over the world, sharing in training sessions, in fitness, in mental preparation, going to school, eating together, traveling together… essentially living together.
After high school, American universities also encourage this value, where respect for your classmate who cheers for the colors of your team is vital, and later on in your personal or professional life, you will become citizens of the world with this intrinsic value.
As an example, it’s worth highlighting that the players who make up the tennis teams at American universities show this fundamental value of respect for their teammates. If one of them arrives late to a training session or doesn’t follow the rules, the whole team receives the same sanction, whoever it is that didn’t do what they were meant to.
That’s why I think that both professional tennis as well as college tennis are great ways to learn how to respect the others. To me, fighting alongside Sergio Casal in the tennis circuit showed me a lot about compromise and not giving-up. What about you?
Thanks to Daniel Muñoz, co-author of this post.
Emilio Sánchez Vicario
CEO & Founder at Sánchez-Casal Academy