Roland Garros gets underway this Sunday and the island will be hoping Rafa Nadal continues the form he showed in Rome two weeks ago to win a 14th French Open title, continue his jaw-dropping legacy on clay and move past Federer for a record 21 Grand Slams.
For the women, Spain will be hoping Garbiñe Muguruza can return to her best to regain the title she won there in 2016.
And tennis is on the rise too in our little corner of the island as we launch our Academy partnership with Unity Tennis and bring the next generation of young hopefuls to hone their skills in Colonia Sant Jordi. Mallorca is the perfect place to tap into the wealth of tennis talent that is here already and measure yourself against some of the best young players in the world.
Vinicius Emanuel de Oliveira is the coach and co-founder of Unity tennis, who brings with him experience of the best tennis programmes in Europe. Vini started coaching aged 15 in his native Brazil, and following a degree in physical education, started a Masters in high performance sport aged 20. It was there, working alongside the coaches in the Brazilian Olympic programme that he was advised to move to Europe.
A year later Vini moved to Barcelona to continue his Masters and started coaching at the renowned Sanchez Casal Academy, working with the ITF players. In his second year there, Vini met Jofre Porta, one of the biggest names in tennis coaching and who coached Carlos Moya and Rafa Nadal in their formative years. “I wanted to learn more about his methodology and coaching philosophy,” said Vini, “so I came to Mallorca for a week and he offered me a job. So I moved here and continued my thesis with the players at his programme Global Tennis.
“I started working with the Tennis Europe group, which is the under 12 and under 14 age group, then worked up to become head coach of the Academy.”
Vini’s thesis was in conditioning players to adjust to the many variables they face by learning to do it subconsciously. Conscious thought takes too long, so in a fast-changing environment, changes to the grip, or the way to play on different surfaces or with different balls needs to take place in the subconscious. It is a subject he continues to study at a deeper level in his on-going PhD work.
At Global, Vini coached with the former player Matias Caceres of Argentina and the pair set up Unity Tennis to develop players for the professional tours. Vini focuses on fitness and technique, and Mati works on court strategy and mental preparation.
“In Brazil I learned that to be a successful tennis coach, you need to be part of family of the player and help them with everything, not just on court. At Sanchez Casal, I learned about hard work and the many hours of training. The players have to love the court and the hard work you need to put in if they want to see success.
“With Jofre I learned the values of tennis and what tennis teaches you for your life. The players need to learn how to manage their emotions, their frustrations, their expectations, and how to plan for their long-term development.
“At Unity, we combine all our knowledge and experience to develop players for the tour. But the most important part is that everything you learn in tennis, you can apply to improve all parts of your life. Players lean how to work hard and make a commitment to be the best they can possibly be both on and off the court, in their sport, in the classroom, in their relationships and in their life.”
Unity will bring their tennis programme to Colonia Sant Jordi, as well as working with us to develop the 16-18 year old players from across the world the BEST Centre Academy with a Loughborough College education.
Loughborough is home to one of only two national academies in Great Britain, which develop national talent aged 13-18, and the Academy programme in Mallorca will work alongside the national pathways for players of all countries that aspire to play at the professional level.
So don’t be surprised if you are visiting the town and see a trail of clay-dusted shoes around the local supermarket. It might just be the next Moya or Nadal.