Barcelona, Spain and Sanchez-Casal Academy

The next stop was to the beautiful beach city and home of the Sanchez-Casal Academy (one of the best tennis camps in Europe).

I wanted to investigate for myself Nadal's humble origins in 
Spain. To truly understand someone I knew, could only be done by walking in his shoes...only by sweating on the same soil as the young master could I truly understand his style, his influences, and development as a player starting out.
So I enrolled for a week alongside other tennis professionals at his former academy of the Sanchez-Casal in Barcelona for a week. In the afternoon, I would watch the new tennis teachers training.
Madrid Sunrise - i like the color on the side of that house
Waking up early before the sunrise every morning, I hurriedly take my continental breakfast - smiling to the front desk receptionist, I repeat the only greeting I can remember from elementary school Spanish, "Buenos Dias" I greet her.

"Good Morning, sir.  How are you today?" she replies politely.  Smiling either at my best attempts at a Spanish accent or because she knew I was American as soon as I got down the elevator by the way I was dressed. Somehow I knew I would run into her again...

After quickly showering and changing, I grab my tennis racket and just a small messenger bag.  I start walking from my hotel (the closest one to the Academy in the airport district) over a sky-walk.

Walking to the Academy
A few cars and buses with the Sanchez-Casal logo pass me by, as I continue down along a long but narrow dirt road alongside a farm.  A small stream beside the road separates it from a field of crops.  "This was the closest hotel to the Academy?" I think to myself.

Lawn chairs at the poolIMG_0495IMG_0500JC and Coach Daniel Sorribas

In the next few days, I would meet young junior (German, American, Spanish) ranging from the age of 5 to those 17 - every one of whom has dedicated their lives, study and their family's time/dedication toward seeking a place in professional tennis.

It is both a school, a tennis camp and a meal ticket for most of these kids to an American University scholarship.

Svetlana Kuznetsova (close up) at Sanchez-Casa...Image by via Flickr
Coach Dani
While training and studying the "Spanish-system" of footwork and clay from an Argentinian coach who calls himself "Daniel" (or Dani), he points out a young lady slightly younger than me. Her mom comes over to ask us to borrow some singles sticks. She also was using the Head Instinct yellow racquet (Liquidmetal Instinct).
French Open Champion I've seen her every morning and somewhere before and knew she must be pretty famous. She was very immersed during practice with her coach and mother. In less than a month later, she would be destined to become the 2009 French Open woman's champion (Svetlana Kuznetsova).

Barcelona Sites and Tickets

Read more about my Tennis Travels.

The Road to Rafa's Renaissance

European Tennis Tour - Summer 2009

"Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the places and moments that take our breath away."