USPTA Hosts Competitive Player Development Conference at Academia Sanchez-Casal in Naples, Fla.

The United States Professional Tennis Association Competitive Player Development Conference, which took place in Naples, Fla., from Dec. 4-6, brought in close to 130 attendees. The conference, which is traditionally held by the association in Houston, was shifted to the Academia Sanchez-Casal so that attendees got the added benefit of learning about some of the progressive coaching systems that have propelled Spain to its current tennis prominence.

Emilio Sanchez-Vicario was on hand as a featured speaker. Sanchez-Vicario led the effort to capture the Davis Cup for Spain as the team’s captain just weeks before the conference. He was ranked No. 7 in the world in men’s singles and No. 1 in doubles with Sergio Casal as his partner. The Sanchez family is also famous for Emilio’s sister, Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario, who won four Grand Slam singles titles, six Grand Slam women’s doubles titles, and four Grand Slam mixed doubles titles.

Luis Mediero, a USPTA Master Professional and the president of Registro Profesional de Tenis (RPT) in Madrid, Spain, was also on hand to assist with the conference. Mediero has a lifetime of coaching experience that was invaluable to attendees.

The Sanchez-Casal Academy is modeled on the one Sanchez and Casal opened in Barcelona, Spain almost 10 years ago, where such players as Kuznetsova, Murray and Hantuchova have trained.

“We wanted to do something abroad and the best place…was where the best academies in the world are located - the United States,” said Sanchez. “The United States also has the biggest potential in terms of both tennis and academic studies for juniors because the college level is so good in America.”

“Emilio is one of the newest members of our Player Development Advisory Council and he and his group of teaching professionals are not only building a loyalty to the development of U.S. players, but also to USPTA and its certification with every teaching professional on his staff required to earn a USPTA certification,” said USPTA CEO Tim Heckler. “The Sanchez-Casal Academy hopes that by building more successful U.S. players it will also contribute to an increased public interest in our sport.”

With close to 130 teaching professionals in attendance, the three-day conference was filled with insight into the Spanish method through lectures and on-court demonstrations.
“One of the things Sanchez-Casal concentrates on is serious lower body development, which creates exceptional speed, agility and quickness in its players, as well as the mental strength to work on these exercises with considerable repetition,” said Heckler.
The teaching professionals who attended this course will certainly implement this system of teaching to the betterment of U.S. players across the nation.


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