By Daniel Muñoz Pozo, Head of Communications & Media at Sánchez-Casal Academy.
The same courts that have seen the likes of players such as Rafa Nadal, Grigor Dimitrov, Novak Djokovic, Feliciano López, have now also welcomed our student-athlete Luis Utrilla. Luis was selected to play the U14 Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell, 66º Trophy Conde of Godó, a tournament for promising young players that is held in parallel to the ATP.
This amazing opportunity was experienced by Luis as well as his Sánchez-Casal coach, Juan Manuel Lorenzo, who affirms that “it is an important opportunity for Luis because he gained firsthand experience of what the professional players go through during the week. It’s a different, special and magical tournament. Being able to train and play on the same courts as the pros during the ATP tournament, to have the same supporters cheering on you, and to use the same locker rooms, cafeteria and players’ lounge as the pros is indeed a unique experience.”
For Luis, reaching the semifinals (where he was defeated by the tournament winner), has been an incredible journey, “It has been a great experience, perhaps one of the most important of my life, because it is the most professional tournament that I have ever taken part in. I had the chance to live with the pros, to share the same spaces, such as the players’ lounge where we relaxed and prepared together for our next matches”.
The young ASC player, who in September of 2017 joined the Sánchez-Casal Academy and ES International School in the Annual Tennis + School Program, said: “I have learned so much and absorbed many great ideas thanks to being so close to these professional players. I saw what they did to warm up and how they prepared themselves in the hours leading up to their games, all of which was a huge opportunity for me”.
How does the Sánchez-Casal Academy prepare players for a tournament of this category?
Luis’s coach, Juan Manuel, remarks that “with the ASC 360 Tennis System, we trained everything in general (controls, drills, serve, points, etc) up to 3 days before competing in the Godó Tournament. In the final 3 days, we began a more specific work, with transition exercises in different zones of the court, directional tactics and points under specific conditions.”
Regarding routines, Juan Manuel and Luis have been following the same patterns as we usually follow with any ASC Travelling Team: “Focusing on proper nutrition, ensuring good warm up on the court where the competition will take place, making tactical preparations in the players’ lounge, and reinforcing the mental routines necessary to face challenges of these proportions.”
On the other side, Luis affirms that “the week prior to the tournament, in addition to training with my coach, I was training in both tactics and strategy with the Head Coaches of the Academy. On the physical side, I was focused on becoming stronger to be able to face tough matches. On the mental side, I had a session to help me manage my emotions in moments that could be adverse or difficult and turn them into positive thoughts”.
In short, Luis has gone through days of strong emotions, hard work and effort, and above all, days of hope and excitement. His coach Jose Manuel and the whole Sanchez-Casal Academy are proud of Luis, who, as all our students do during tournaments, has relied on our total support to be able to enjoy the experience.
Daniel Muñoz Pozo
Head of Communications & Media at Sánchez-Casal Academy.