Spain: where great tennis players are made
There’s no denying that Spain is one of the greatest tennis nations on earth. In the last 35 years alone we’ve seen world-class champions, unstoppable Davis Cup teams and numerous top 10 players.
As we speak there are nine Spaniards in the top 40, including Rafa Nadal, Feliciano Lopez, David Ferrer and Garbiñe Muguruza. What’s more, the Davis Cup team, led by Sergi Bruguera, easily brushed aside Great Britain in their recent clash in Marbella (even with Nadal out injured).
With its comprehensive tournament structure and a competitive club system, it’s easy to see why Spain is so well-known for tennis. But what makes it stand out and why are so many players travelling from all over the world to train here?
We spoke to Lluís Bruguera, director and founder of Bruguera Tennis Academy to find out.
4 reasons to come and play in Spain
According to Lluís “los campeones nacen pero los buenos jugadores se hacen” or in English:
“Champions are born, but great players are made”.
He outlined the four main factors which can help a player become a success.
- The Methodology
This can be broken down into the four fundamentals – technique, tactics, physical ability and mental strength.
When it comes to technique – consistency is key. Every shot must be solid and the same as the one before and the one which will come after. Players spend hours and hours doing intense drills to make sure this is the case.
Spanish players also focus on the tactical side of the game from an early age. They are taught to gradually build points and recognise patterns. Topspin is favoured and they can change their defense into an attack without a second’s thought. This understanding of the court, gives them the upper-hand, during key moments of the game.
Anyone who’s ever seen Nadal play will know how physically fit Spanish players are. Whether it’s in the gym, outdoors or on court, trainers push their players to the limit to improve their speed, strength and endurance. The fitter they are the more they can focus during a match.
The combination of the these three things means players are mentally prepared when it comes to a big competition. Having superior endurance allows them to concentrate until the end and, thanks to their training, they are able to play almost automatically and without thinking. The result is that their emotions are much easier to keep in check, than a player who is tired and concentrating too much on the individual aspects of their game.
Using this teaching methodology means that any player has the potential to become great, says Lluís.
- The clay courts
The most common surface to play and train on in Spain is clay. Learning on this soft court has significant advantages for junior players. As they cannot rely on a big serve or hitting winners down the line, they have to learn to be patient and build the points tactically, which makes for a more all-rounded player. The slow and heavy surface helps players improve their footwork, increase their racket speed and avoid injuries, which are more common on faster courts.
It is also much easier to apply these skills to the hard court, than it is the other way round, says Lluís, which is why you’ll see Spanish players dominating tournaments such as The French Open.
- The Mediterranean climate
Did you know Barcelona has on average 2,524 hours of sunshine per year? That’s 60% more sunny days than Northern Europe. Combined with low rainfall and mild winters, Spain, and Barcelona in particular, is the ideal place to train outdoors all year round. And although the summers can be hot, it’s a great way to condition players for life on the tour, where they will have to play long hard games in the sun, Lluís tells us.
- The world class tennis academies
Across Spain there are many top tennis academies, with outstanding coaching staff, says Lluís. They all share a common goal – to develop and improve Spanish tennis. It’s this commitment and passion which sets them aside from many other countries, where players are seen as an easy way to make money. There is also a culture of mentoring, where experienced coaches and ex-players, like Lluís himself, are happy to share their knowledge with younger generations.
This collaboration generates positive relationships between clubs, centres and academies, where tennis always comes first.
What makes Bruguera Tennis Academy unique?
Bruguera tennis academy has trained more than 25 top 100 players, including two of the top 10 – current Spanish Davis Cup team captain and former French Open champion Sergi Bruguera and former world number one Garbiñe Muguruza.
The team is made up of some of the Spain’s best coaches including, Alberto Lopez (who was Garbiñe’s trainer), Fernando Luna and Ricardo Ros, who all share the same desire to win as the players. There are also physiotherapists, nutritionists and fitness instructors on hand to make sure that everyone receives the best care possible.
One of the key advantages of the academy is that all the facilities are under one roof. The players sleep, study and train in the same location, meaning no time is wasted travelling. There are sixteen courts, a swimming pool, a fully equipped gym and a sports field for additional activities like basketball and football.
The most important thing for us, however, is the family environment we create so the children feel safe and can develop both as human beings and as great tennis players, Lluis adds.
Come and train with the best at Bruguera tennis academy.