As he walks into the room, all the ASC Florida student-athletes stare at him. You can feel their admiration towards him and the curiosity about what he is going to explain to them.
It’s a Wednesday afternoon in December. On this day every week, Sanchez-Casal players have a group mental session, where they work on their short and long-term training and learning objectives.
Today the dynamics are different since there is a special guest speaker, former #4 ranked ATP player Robin Söderling. The Swede, who won a total of 10 ATP tournaments, may best be remembered as the man who beat Rafa Nadal at the French Open in 2009 and prevented the player from Manacor from winning his fifth straight Coupe des Mousquetaires.
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.
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.
With 17 Grand Slams in his pocket, Roger Federer has lost multiple finals since 2008: to Nadal four times, once at the French Open, once at Wimbledon and once at the US Open; and to Djokovic, three times.
This amounts to more than ten Grand Slam finals lost – we can only imagine where he would be in the ATP ranking. However, today I’m not going to talk about the matches in particular, or about tactics, physical condition or mindset. Today I want to commend Roger Federer as a role model, as a player who respects his rivals when he is defeated.
Tennis is an individual sport. 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 Emilio Sánchez Vicario has experienced it.
Controlling timing and breathing are two powerful tools which help us to plan our next steps and overcome difficulties. If you are capable of perfecting these skills, your ability to overcome challenging situations increases. You just have to work at it.
In many of my conversations with players at any level, the mention of “pressure” appears: “I felt under too much pressure”, “The pressure meant I couldn’t move”, “I completely froze under the pressure, I didn’t know what I was doing any more” … These are some of the examples of the effect of pressure, which on top of everything, usually manifests itself at the worst times, when nobody asks for it.
Tennis is an individual sport where the most important is to win, stand out, and be one of the best. But there’s another type of motivation which helps to strengthen trust, self-esteem and, moreover, provides a lot more emotional stability. It is the motivation oriented around Work.
August is here with new challenges, new adversities, and excitement about the next tournaments. We have to give shape to these dreams and passions for everything to work. This means working hard to reach our goals.