By Roger Cox, Editor
Even in Spain, which abounds in high-profile tennis academies, the announcement that Rafa Nadal planned to open one of his own generated uncommon excitement. Located in his home town of Manacor, on the island of Majorca, this expansive training facility, officially dubbed the Rafa Nadal Academy by Moviestar, stands out both for the talent behind it—both Nadal himself and his uncle Tony—and for its philosophy. The training methodology focuses on preparing for "the tennis of the future," which for them means a competitive landscape of ever faster and stronger opponents. But also deeply ingrained in the fabric of the academy is an emphasis on values: a desire to foster both a winning spirit and exemplary good character in those who attend.
The modern complex rises on the southern outskirts of Manacor, an area that remains predominantly farmland. The view to the north takes in the skyline of the city, dominated by the 75-meter bell tower and Neo-Gothic finials of Our Lady of Sorrows (Nuestra Senora de los Dolores) parish church. The campus itself is anchored by two sleek, modern buildings—one with accommodations for adults, a spa, and a sports museum (more about that later), the other a residence hall for juniors and the American International school. Beyond them sprawls a complex of 19 hard courts—one of them a stadium and one of them indoors—and seven red-clay courts, the last elevated and set at the western edge of the property to minimize the spread of clay dust carried by the prevalent winds. A mini football pitch, multi-sport court, four padel courts, two swimming pools (one indoor, one outdoor), a fitness center, spa, health center, a courtside restaurant and bar, a cafe, pro shop, and a student cafeteria, and recreation and study areas complete the layout.
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For juniors, the academy offers summer camps as well as weekly, monthly, and full-time programs during the rest of the year. (For more detail , visit our academy page in our junior camps section). Adults, meanwhile, have a variety of tennis options, ranging from private lessons, to group clinics and four-hour-a-day tennis camps. There are also options for tennis-specific fitness training focused on velocity, flexibility, speed, strength, agility, or a combination of the above. In addition to the tennis options, the Academy leverages its health center to provide services to assist with injury treatment and recovery (Nadal's own doctor directs the facility) as well as help with other lifestyle issues like smoking or weight loss.
Adults are housed in double rooms whose small terraces have views either of the courts or the Manacor skyline. Compact but minimally stylish in gray, white, and charcoal, these accommodations have a full range of amenities including flatscreen TVs, coffee makers, WiFi, and private bath with shower. They also have access to the fitness center, spa, and swimming pools. The Terrace Restaurant below, which also has a bar, serves three meals daily (rates optionally include breakfast, half-, or full board).
There is one final piece to the Sports Centre and that is an interactive museum of sport dubbed Sport Xperience. A choreographed walk-through takes you from an entrance foyer lined with glass cases containing the autographed clothing or equipment or famous athletes in many disciplines, Seve Ballesteros, Lionel Messi, Michael Jordan, Michael Phelps, Marc Marquez (racing), Usain Bolt, and LeBron James among them. From there, doors open into a room anchored by a hologram of Rafa, smiling and blinking, and then welcoming us—serially in English, Spanish, and, I'm guessing, Majorcan—to experience what goes on in the mind of a champion. "Champions are made from something that grows in them," the inspirational narrative begins as projected images of great athletes, in and out of tennis, fill the walls as each speaks about a quality—like honesty, commitment, passion—that he or she feels is crucial to success. That room then empties into interactive exhibits devoted to the Rafa Nadal Foundation's causes and finally to a wall displaying all of Rafa's trophies, including those from his 14 Grand Slams.
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Travel Instructions. By Air: The Nadal Tennis Academy is a 44-minute (52 km) drive from Palma de Mallorca Airport (PMI).
General Tourist Information. Visit the Majorca pages of Visit Spain