Under the Eye of Hurricane Irma (Part I)

Irma prep 3

By Susana Zaragoza, Marketing Manager, Academia Sánchez-Casal-Florida

Last month Academia Sánchez-Casal-Florida (ASC) lived one of its most challenging moments when it had to prepare for Irma, a category 5 hurricane.

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.

The severity of the situation forced ASC management and staff to look for solutions to ensure its players’ safety. They covered the Academy with shutters, removed all potential hazards and gathered the necessary supplies, including food, water, generators… There was a big chance that power and communications would go down during and after the storm. Gas and even water was running short as people were evacuating or preparing for the post-hurricane.




Despite all the preparations, police arrived at ASC the D-1 and forced evacuation, due to an extreme storm surge threat of up to 10-15 feet. In no more than an hour, Emilio Sánchez and his team sought out the best refuge options to host the academy kids and team members for 3 days. They all moved to Grey Oaks, a golf resort with a brand-new hurricane proof clubhouse.

Once in the refuge, they built their shelter. They brought mattresses, clothes, games, supplies, flash lights…


Hurricane Irma at Grey Oaks


Despite the safety provided by the hurricane-proof building ASC crew were asked to move into the kitchen hours before the eye of the hurricane hit Naples, with no windows and very little light. They spent several hours there. Wind gusts of 140 miles per hour were recorded at Naples Municipal Airport at that time. ASC CEO and Founder recorded a video that made the tour on numerous TV stations:


Also among the ASC team confined in the refuge was Norwegian journalist Espen Tvedt, Sports reporter for Eurosport, Canal + and editorial Manager at Discovery Networks in Norway, as well as father of one of ASC Florida student-athletes, Nick. Tvedt documented the 3-day stay in a hurricane refuge and the impact of Irma in the following video:


Devastation caused by hurricane Irma and its consequences will be explained in a new article. Despite the many obstacles to overcome as the lack of power, drinking water or internet, ASC started going back to normal little by little and players returned to training and school. Worth mentioning that shortly after the Irma ‘experience’, student-athlete Nick Tvedt competed in the ITF Curacao with ASC Traveling Team and earned his first ITF points. This is a key step to advance in the rankings and ultimately be able to get a scholarship to a college with a good tennis team. Coach Guillermo interviewed him about this accomplishment in the following video:



In a very short amount of time, ASC players coped with a hurricane, trained, attended school, competed and celebrated their victories (and defeats). This is part of the ASC philosophy: developing successful young people in all aspects of life, using tennis and education as the vehicle for personal development.

Susana Zaragoza

Marketing Manager, Sánchez-Casal Academy-Florida



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