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," an approach that anticipates 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 academy offers summer camps as well as weekly, monthly, and full-time programs during the rest of the year. The curricula for each of these is spelled out in detail on the website, but a couple of aspects are worth highlighting. One is the caliber of the junior lodging. Students are housed—boys on one floor, girls on another—in thoughtfully designed rooms each with two single beds, twin work and storage spaces, a shared bath, television, WiFi, and air conditioning and heating. Half the rooms face the courts; however, the half that face outward toward Manacor get the added amenity of a sliding door separating the two halves of the room (with an entrance to the bath from either side). As part of the academy's emphasis on character building, students are expected to keep their rooms tidy—something made a bit easier by being able to leave their dirty tennis clothes in the locker rooms off the courts to be laundered overnight and ready the next morning.
Although the weekly and monthly programs pack some 35 hours of on-court work and fitness training into each week, along with 7½ hours of language classes, the annual program scales that back to 25 hours in order to free up time to pursue academic studies. The Nadal academy places a heavy emphasis on education, with a goal of preparing students to meet the entrance requirements for U.S. universities. To that end, the academy contracted with the highly regarded American International School of Mallorca, relocating it entirely from Manacor into the academy itself, thus allowing students to seamlessly flow from courts to classroom and back on flexible schedules tailored to their individual needs in classes taught in English by native speakers.
The academy itself has 26 indoor and outdoor red-clay and greenset courts as well as a fitness center, two swimming pools (one inside, one out), 7 padel courts, a mini football (soccer) field, a pro shop, health center, and residential housing. Meals are provided by the academy kitchen.
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