IN his first visit to the Philippines, king of clay Rafael Nadal didn't waste any time warming up to Filipinos.
Nadal and his uncle/coach Toni conducted a one-day Rafa Nadal Tennis Academy, sponsored by telecom giant Globe, for more than a hundred young kids at the Collegio de San Agustin Gymnasium on Sunday morning.
The younger Nadal said he was overwhelmed by the passion of the Filipinos, who are predominantly basketball-loving citizens, to the point that he remained optimistic about bringing his tennis academy that’s based in Mallorca, Spain to the Philippines.
“My academy is in Spain, but we hope to have good connections here in the Philippines, so one day we can have one here,” said Nadal. “We want to first see and feel what’s going on (at our academy in Spain), we expect to help kids around the world, and for sure Philippines (will be one of them).”
Nadal also stressed that poverty and lack of high-end equipment should not hamper anyone from achieving their dreams of making it big in tennis.
“In my opinion, tennis lessons are decisive, but the value and the way that I have to practice with intensity is the key to my success,” said the 29-year-old former world No. 1. “I always have the right motivation to practice as much as I can. Toni helped me with that and he made sure I have intensity every day.”
Taking a break from his busy schedule at the International Premiere Tennis League, Nadal devoted nearly an hour of training and clinic with kids from different schools. The 14-time singles Grand Slam champion also gamely played with the children enrolled in his clinic.
La Salle high school student Matthew Garcia, one of those lucky enough to trade swings with Nadal, admitted that playing against the Spanish netter gave him the inspiration to improve his game.
“It was a good experience, he’s a person who inspires me to do the best I can every day. He is such a good ambassador of the game and he really has good characteristics of a good tennis player,” said Garcia. “Playing with him truly inspires me, I always wanted to get a chance to hit with him.”
La Salle Zobel star netter Rafaella Villanueva also shared how accommodating Nadal was.
“He is so kind, he doesn’t say no to people asking for his picture, selfie, and autograph. I even had a chance to talk to him a bit. He was very nice,” said Villanueva. “I got a selfie with him. I am really happy about it.”
Globe head of corporate communications Yolly Crisanto revealed that helping uplift the development of different sports is one of the priorities of their company. She also hinted on plans to invite more marquee international athletes to further inspire the youth to excel in different sports.
“Well, we started with the NBA, then we had football, now we’re doing tennis. So you never know what’s gonna happen with Globe, we’re doing something wonderful every day,” said Crisanto.
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