Saturday, November 26, 2016

Sanchez-Casal Academy: 2016 Edition Review

Tennis Teachers Conference 2016 (ICI Certification) Review

Level 1 to teach Juniors and Level 2 to teach Adult Pros

Last time was around 2010, right after the Naples Bath and Tennis club management was taken over by Mr. Emilo Sanchez (former Spanish Davis Cup Captain and Grand Slam winner in doubles). Back then it was at its infancy and this week I have seen how much it has evolved as a full scale academy.

It has maintained a small "private school" feel environment. It has much more personalized attention than the mega-academy "Boot Camps" which sometimes kids will get lost in the 50+ kid mob if they are not the top performer. Specialty coaches are available to every student to help each player work on Technical, Tactical, Mental and Physical aspects of their athletic and tennis games.

My 2009 Video review of the RPT Tennis Teachers Program. 

AS-C Florida Pictures of Previous Visit

Very fond memories of getting world-class instruction from Emilio Sanchez (Spanish Davis Cup Captain of 2008 World Champions plus 3-time Grand Slam Doubles Champion) and Luis Mediero (ICI America, RPT Founder and USPTA Master Pro).

I compare this with the Saddlebrook Academy in Tampa where I visited for adult training back in Feb. There the emphasizes is more on the luxury resort feel and the recreational improvement with hitting lots of balls / drills.

The AS-C Naples program comes from the Spanish system pioneered by Mr. Pato Alverez. Lots of tactical footwork, inside out forehands and "Aggressive Defense" as Dani Sobias used to say. Their FL location is tailored much more toward accommodating the kids - composed of a lot more close-knit staff and easily accessible courts and facilities. There is a special Latin / Spanish culture about the place with many international students. It puts the focus on the student's Life Education to improve their overall improvement - well beyond just hitting tennis balls.

The International Coaches Institute (ICI) course has gone through many useful improvements with additional speakers/topics since 2009.

For former AS-C alums and previous RPT coaches, I would highly recommend this refreshers course to review fundamentals and updated program. I saw some of the junior coaches attending as well.

Even as an former AS-C / RPT attendee from 2009, I felt like more than 70% of the info was freshly updated. Initially, I had worried I would get bored because I had been to their 5-day coaches course in Barcelona and 4-day RPT course in Naples. Even after Day 1, I've been pleasantly surprised.

Now they have added a few more speakers and teachers to also cover the Physical and the Mental aspects of the game.

Highlights of the Camp
Derek (Fitness Director) had 2 great sessions: an on court conditioning demo and the gym tutorial with the foam rollers and other recovery tools was excellent! Learned a lot of great useful tips to help keep students injury-free and increase performance with proper recovery.

The lunch was Pasta and Chicken (which was very delicious and fresh), served with salad / fresh fruits and veggies. Only $12 lunch special in a very beautiful dining hall and excellent service staff.

Lots more on-court coaching and hands-on labs plus workout sessions! The Academy has expanded with many more students and a big juniors tournament while we were there. On the schedule were also some Open level tournaments for Men and Women players.

6 Basic Exercises

 Demo on court as both student and teacher (2 on 2 ratios).
*Very helpful hints given by Luis and a few coaches like Lucas for performing each exercise properly*

Main Focus on the drills:
  • X Drills + always recover to Center "Home"
  • Double side shuffle to shift weight back to middle.
  • FH Attack, BH Attack, FH Defend, BH Defend
  • Attack = step diagonal forward; Defend = back foot diagonal

1) Defend DTL - Attack Cross
Play from the back foot the defense shots. FH back, FH approach, BH back, BH approach

2) Defend Cross - Attack DTL
Instead hit cross court on FH and then BH, then feed short ball on the same side to go down the line. Always feed short ball from same side, as the last deep / 3rd shot; to retreat the player and restart, feed deep on the same side again to reset for opposite wing.

3) Mid-Court Approach Shot + Volley
This is an X pattern drill. Cross FH deep, then DTL Backhand Volley. Then retreat for BH deep cross court followed by FH volley DTL.

4) Swing Volley (to simulate high groundies)Players hit with weight on back foot and hitting high out of the air; Alternate fh/bh after player has recovered the center house.

5) Forward Normal VolleysPlayers hit with weight on front foot. Low volley: Step in then volley; Mid level volley: Step AND Hit at the same time; High volley: Hit then step in.

6) 2 Defensive Baseline, 1 Approach, 2 Volleys, 1 overhead
Alternate defense shots, but keep feeds on same side as incoming shot. Force player to hit to the open court / cross court whenever possible.

Special Offer Pricing available for Academy Sessions: "JCtennis referral"

Enroll Juniors at the Academy for summer/winter vacation to learn the Spanish Tennis system that helped Murray get to World #1. The kids have a lot of fun with the junior coaches and other kids 10-18 years old there. Build strong work ethics and help them be better players, students.  Full Details here.

You can also send small groups of juniors to stay and train together with a package deal as well.

Please mention when you ask to speak with Romy about the "Preferred Coaches" Program Deal.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Brothers in arms of Tennis - supporting cast members

Those who have endured in this sport of past pain, fighting through adversity (born of both Man and Nature), and arrived to find glorious victory at the end; They are the ones that know me deeply, truly for who I am.

Q: Who has felt the scorching heat of the Sun on their skin? Experienced the thirst for water at his very core? Gasped for oxygen in every breath, and hungered for victory deep down in their heart and soul? 
A: My fellow Warriors in Tennis.

When we understand Tennis, we also learn the man on the other side of the net

My fellow tennis players are cut from similar cloth. Recreational Player, USTA league teammate or rival competitors - do they not sweat, bleed and struggle the same in competition? Both in victory and defeat. They pay the same tolls of training and feel the same glories of victory. Like Gladiators in the modern arena...who have traded swords for rackets...unified by our quest on the green rectangle.

The Championships: so elusive, yet globally coveted by all who have entered the game.

So many seek the Gold, yet out of 128 players in a draw, 127 out of 128 may end up going home disappointed. All but one may raise the prize. Even for the Finalist, it can be misframed. Seemingly like that old 1996 Nike Olympic Ad "you don't win Silver, you lose Gold".

A very zero-sum perspective and is exactly the wrong way to struggle if you want to survive. Because as the sweepstakes say: Many will enter, One will win. Immediate gratification doesn't work here.

Always Re-Defining:  Self, Success and "Summits"
Instead, we should seek Excellence. The improvement towards mini-goals over a very long stretch of time. Always climbing, always reaching, always advancing. Never stop, never retire, never stop re-inventing your game. You are defeated when you give in. No one but within yourself can you be made to feel a failure.

Photographers and Press: The Recorders of Time

Even without my direct credits or company copyrights directly listed on so many Tennis Wikipedia entries, I am most proud of my work that has not paid 1 cent in royalties.

Engraving into Tennis History
In just the Legg Mason 2006 tournament alone, I have created the image of many tennis stars bio page. Examples: Brad Gilbert (Wiki Picture), Tim Henman (Cropped Wiki Pic), Marat Safin (Wiki Pic).
Each of these "Web Encyclopedia" bio pages has thousands of viewers every day - some with millions of views over their lifetime!

It is a great honor to their "portrait painter". History and future tennis generations will look back and the image I have created will be there perhaps forever. That is a very rare and powerful privilege to be part of the history books.

Sharing the world of Tennis to our Fans Globally
To share a few snippets of highlights to those many miles or countries away. To enlighten and educate the casual observer, and bring context to an otherwise unknown player or match.

For a sport rarely in the American Top 5 for viewership, it can be a tough job. We do it because we truly love it and the Tennis Circle.

Cramped together in a small room, tape recorders and notepads in hand. Trying to find the special sound bite or quote that will be good enough. To be published or to be rejected are so fickle as to the audience's whim of the day.

Hard work, Lucky Payoffs - "Perfect Shots" are Part Luck and Part Skill

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