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.
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 top-ranked tennis professional, although alone on court, is supported by a variety of experts: at the very least, an ATP or WTA player usually travels with a tennis coach, a physiotherapist, and a fitness trainer. However, on championship Sunday of the 2018 Delray Beach Open, 64th world-ranked German Peter Gojowczyk was supported by a much more unpredictable team: I (who had just met Peter 10 days prior to that Sunday), along with an old friend of Peter’s from 11 years prior and his friend’s daughter were the ones accompanying him. In hindsight, perhaps the unforeseen makeup of his player’s box that day was representative of his surprising run to the final that week.
ASC player Ramkumar Ramanathan is one to watch at the Miami Open 2018. Last year the Indian player jumped 143 spots in the Singles ranking and is now ranked world N135. Also, worth mentioning is his victory over world N6 Dominic Thiem at the Antalya Open in June 2017 (where he reached the quarterfinals), his first main draw qualification of a Masters 1000 tournament at Cincinnati Masters in August 2017, or his role as a N1 player at the India Davis Cup Team. However, the 23-year old player is now facing one of his long time aspired career goals: to compete in the Miami Open.
The 2018 season has started with a somewhat disheartening array of injuries among the top players. Murray has not been able to play since sustaining a hip injury at Wimbledon. Djokovic has had continued problems with his elbow in Australia, after having already spent a number of months off the courts. Rafa Nadal was forced to retire from the Australian Open after battling muscular problems during a match against Cilic. And they aren’t the only ones. During 2017, Wawrinka, Nishikori and Raonic have also suffered from different injuries. A question to consider is, are injuries inevitable for professional tennis players?
Last month Academia Sánchez-Casal (ASC) lived one of its most challenging moments when it had to prepare for Irma, a category 5 hurricane that landed over the city of Naples where the American ASC headquarters is located.
The hurricane, which was supposed to hit east of Miami, shifted towards Southwest Florida 48 hours before making landfall in the US. By then, the hurricane forecast models predicted that the eye of the hurricane, where the strongest rain, winds and gusts are experienced, was going to overpass Naples.
Maturity and consistency are both ingredients that usually lead to success, although of course sport has another ingredient, which is competition, and with competition, anything can happen. This season has been especially important to the ATP player, Gilles Müller, who is 34 years old and is excelling thanks to some great recent results.
Every athlete wants to achieve good results, but we have to be aware that good results don’t automatically happen because we spend hours and hours training on court, in fitness or in mental training. Inspiring young athletes to give their best effort is both the coach and the parents’ responsibility.
I would love to win a Grand Slam
My best victory so far was the ASC Women’s Open semifinal against Kayla Day
“I would love to win a Grand Slam”
“My best victory so far was the ASC Women’s Open semifinal against Kayla Day”
16-year old player Claire Liu won the first series of the $25,000 Academia Sanchez-Casal Women’s Pro-circuit Open, the Svetlana Kuznetsova Cup. Liu, who came from the qualies, played 12 matches during 8 days and made it victoriously to the final, beating the two-time NCAA Singles Title Champion Danielle Rose Collins.
Mom, you know this year I made loads of effort, and got really good marks at school – even in Math, which you know I find really difficult! My teachers are really proud of me. I want to ask you if this summer, apart from spending time with you and my friends, I can do something special and go somewhere new. A place where I can make new friends from around the world, play tennis (which I love!) and practice my English – you’re always saying how important that is!