#TennisAid Uganda

Enjoy part 2 of this series of posts about charity project #TennisAid:

The origin of the project was totally casual and spontaneous. Out of habit, I record my tennis lessons, especially with younger players, I edit the videos, add some music and try to give them an original format. This constant search for innovation pushed me to make a video of mini-tennis, but this time not only with pictures of my students, I thought I could show how to work with kids around the world.

I started contacting by mail or Facebook coaches I knew or coaches who work with young children. My request was clear and simple: to record about 15 minutes of their tennis lesson, and send it to me, either by mail, Whatsapp or any other mean. That’s how a work of about 5 months started.
Several people people answered me immediately. Others asked me time because their schools were on holidays. After 3 months, less than 20% had answered me.

Finally, in September 2014, and with over 30 countries represented, I managed to finish the “We love Mini” video. Clubs with good infrastructures and a clear organization, or overcrowded classes and coaches who work more with their will and vocation than with equipments: contrasts are obvious. Take the case of Victoria Tennis in Kenya: one coach on a court with about 40 students, throwing balls by hand. A beautiful chaos. In the video, you can see images of countries such as Zimbabwe, Germany, Nigeria, USA, Yemen, Argentina, Mexico, Estonia, Brazil and Egypt.

One of the fastest coaches to answer to my request was Vince Mowereza, from the city of Kampala, capital of Uganda. He is dedicated to promote tennis in schools with the help of his friend Julius Kyobe. They work for free, just to spread the sport.
He told me he was looking with envy at the amount of equipment I have to work kids’ psycho-motor skills, and he had absolutely no way to get that equipment in his town.
My first thought was that I could buy a few mini-tennis balls of all sizes and pressures and send them by mail. Then I thought I could also send a few racquets.

I talked about it with my friend and club-mate Abel Rincon, who spontaneously said: “What if we go there and bring him the equipment instead of sending it?” We looked at each other an started laughing. Because right there we realized that the trip would become reality and that we would end up going to Africa to donate sports equipment.

We knew that we were embarking on a great adventure. What we did not know is the magnitude it would reach.

Also read:
#TennisAid Uganda: the story of Martin Rocca
#TennisAid Uganda: the funding
#TennisAid: the arrival in Uganda
#TennisAid Uganda: the Ntinda School for the Deaf
#TennisAid: the second day in Uganda – the Shimoni Primary School
#TennisAid third day in Uganda
#TennisAid fourth day in Uganda

Follow Martin on Twitter and Instagram.

#TennisAid Uganda

Thanks to the website todosobretenis.ar I discovered the story of Martin Rocca and his charity project, #TennisAid. In the next weeks, I will share with you his memories of his moving experience with kids in Uganda. But first, read his story:

After working as a coach in Argentina for almost a decade, I emigrated to the United States in 1998, looking for some fresh air. I’ve stayed in New York for five years and this experience strongly marked my personal life: I became a fan of the city, got married, had my first child there, but professionally I felt that I wasn’t learning as much as I wanted. Despite that, I still keep in memory one of the jobs I enjoyed most as a coach: teach tennis on the courts of Central Park every summer day at 7am. People would turn up every morning, and you never knew who would come to play. This uncertainty and the need to adapt to different players every hour fascinated me.

After the attack on the Twin Towers, the city changed a lot and a year later I moved to Europe. After a brief stint in Italy, Barcelona gave me the opportunity to work on clay courts again. At the Gimnastic de Tarragona, I began a new stage of my life and during four years I learned the secrets of Spanish tennis, and especially the Catalan tennis philosophy (and enjoyed the birth of my daughter).

The CT Reus Monterols hired me in 2008 and there I enjoyed a social and professional environment where I always felt really comfortable, with exceptional colleagues. But two years later, the CT Tarragona offered me a very tempting challenge: take charge of the mini-tennis group, which by that time had more than 100 children. A high-level club with very good facilities and important events (Challengers, Spain Championships, Senior ITF tournaments…). This club also allowed me to do the work I enjoy most: to train players. The two groups of Tennis Base (mini-tennis and pre-competition) with boys ranging from 3 to 9 years old, made me grow as a professional and got the best of me. A year ago, I started a Facebook page called Miniplayers where I post photos and videos of work done with these groups.

Together with my friend Abel Rincon I founded a solidarity movement called #TennisAid whereby we collect sports equipments and offer them to friends who coach in countries with fewer resources. In November 2014 we made our first trip to Kampala, capital of Uganda and last May we were in Kep, a small coastal town in Cambodia. Both experiences, especially the first one, have profoundly marked us.

I am also very fortunate to have been invited to speak about my work with children and solidarity trips in cities like Cuenca, Zaragoza, Valencia and Barcelona (during the Barcelona ATP tournament). I am now facing another challenge: to take as Director of junior tennis at FC Sant Cugat, Barcelona, where I hope to put into practice what I have learned over these 25 years touring club worldwide.

(Words by Martin, translation by Tennis Buzz).

Read next:
#TennisAid Uganda: the project
#TennisAid Uganda: the funding
#TennisAid: the arrival in Uganda
#TennisAid Uganda: the Ntinda School for the Deaf
#TennisAid: the second day in Uganda – the Shimoni Primary School
#TennisAid third day in Uganda
#TennisAid fourth day in Uganda

Update: read the story of Martin’s second trip to Uganda.

Follow Martin on Twitter and Instagram.

Rafael Nadal, Roland Garros magazine

Prior to Roland Garros 2015, Rafael Nadal talked to Roland Garros Magazine about his past decade at Roland Garros. Here are a few extracts:

2003 and 2004: injuries

In 2003, I was high enough in the rankings (No. 87) for direct acceptance into the main draw but I hurt my elbow, so I had to withdraw.

In 2004, I had a bad left foot injury and I was off from April until July. This time though I came to Paris as I was invited by one of my sponsors. It was the first time that I’d been at Roland Garros. I was on crutches, but it didn’t stop me from going all the way to the top of the stands at Philippe Chatrier Court. I sat on one of the seats to the right of the court to drink in the atmosphere. It’s a fond memory for me. I was disappointed not to be able to play but deep down, I knew that sooner or later I would be able to take part in the tournament.

Tennis on clay:

Tennis on clay is the most complete expression of the sport as far as I’m concerned. The rallies are longer since the surface is slower, so you have to construct every point and implement a strategy to try to grind down your opponent. You need to be more patient, know how to defend and find a way to take control of points. And if you like this surface and feel at home on it, Roland Garros is obviously the temple of clay. It’s a unique point in the season.

2005, first Roland Garros trophy:

I’d won a lot of titles on clay – in Brazil, Acapulco, Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Rome, so I had a lot of confidence. I knew that I had the game and the strength to go deep. During the tournament, I just took one match at a time, but I knew that if I played my best, I could achieve something.
When I see myself in 2005, I see a player with an incredible energy and enormous powers of concentration. I was on such a good form. I played with real intensity and passion. I was young and I had a carefree attitude you would expect of a 19-year-old. In the final against Mariano Puerta, I knew that it would be a difficult match and that’s what it was. But I knew that anything was possible. This win will always be a key moment in my career. In the space of two months, I went from No. 50 in the world to winning Roland Garros. I handled it well in my head, because after this win, I stayed the same, I carried on working hard to keep on the right path as best I could.

It’s true that after that first win, I thought “That’s it, my dream has come true, so now the rest of my career, I will be calmer.” But I’d got it all wrong. Because each season, it was the same thing – you’re nervous, you want to win because you want to get back that indescribable feeling of emerging victorious at a Grand Slam tournament. So this feeling of calm that I thought I had got with that win turned out to be very temporary because a few months later, the tension and the desire to give it my all came back – stronger than before.

Not only the King of clay:

Winning at Roland Garros gives you the strength and the confidence to win elsewhere. Because when you start winning, you get into a virtuous circle: winning boosts your confidence, it makes you calmer, you gain more experience and it gives you a healthy dose of positive energy. Roland Garros is therefore a unique tournament in my career because it also enabled me to win on hard courts, on grass and everywhere else. In 2005, a lot of people thought that I could only play on clay, but after I won the French Open, I went on to win the Masters 1000 in Montreal and the tournament in Madrid (then played on hard courts), so I was good enough to win on other surfaces.

2008, 2012, 2014:

Lots of things have happened to me at Roland Garros. 2008 for example was the year that I was further ahead the pack than ever before. I didn’t drop a set and think that this is the tournament where I played my best tennis.
In 2014 against Novak Djokovic, it was the toughest final physically. I’d never felt that tired – at the end of the first set as well. It was very hot, humid and muggy even though it had been quite cool throughout the fortnight. My body struggled with it. I also had some fitness problems during this tournament.
In 2012, I had cortisone injections to play because my knee was hurting. Thee was another year, I forget which one, when I also needed injections, this time on my foot. But injuries and fitness issues are part and parcel of being a tennis professional. With hindsight, I can see that the injuries led to me missing some important moments and tournaments but at the same time, they allowed me to put into perspective everything that I’ve achieved.

Rafael Nadal, Roland Garros Magazine

2009:

That defeat in 2009 was a hard one to swallow, I won’t deny that, but at the same time it wasn’t a tragedy. You mustn’t blow it out of proportion. I’d won the tournament in 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008. And I told myself that I wasn’t going to win Roland Garros every year and that’s normal, I can actually lose, I know that, so I went home and decided to prepare as best I could to try to win it again.

2010:

It was a very special victory. Even if I didn’t drop a set this year, it wasn’t as easy as in 2008. I was coming from a long way back. 2009 was a very tough year, both personally and physically. I hurt my knee before Roland Garros then after that it was my stomach muscles during the American swing. I went through some bad times. And after all that, I came back and won Roland Garros again. I was very, very emotional, and this win was the starting point of an exceptional period because I went on to win Wimbledon and the US Open. And once again it all started at Roland Garros.

Source: Roland Garros Magazine

Also read:
Roland Garros 2005: Nadal defeats Puerta
Roland Garros 2014: a fan’s perspective on Nadal’s win
Roland Garros 2015 coverage

AO 2014: Wawrinka vs Nadal

Enjoy these exclusive pictures of Wawrinka‘s victory over an injured Nadal. Thanks a lot to Brian Peel!

AO 2014: Wawrinka vs Nadal

AO 2014: Wawrinka vs Nadal

AO 2014: Wawrinka vs Nadal

AO 2014: Wawrinka vs Nadal

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2014 Davis Cup final in Lille

2014 Davis Cup final

At 1-1 after the first day (see my recap here), I was pretty sure the pair of Tsonga and Gasquet would beat the Swiss, and then Federer would win over Tsonga on Sunday, and the winner of the deciding rubber between Monfils and Wawrinka would offer the Davis Cup to his country. How wrong I was…

French number one Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was in fact injured, and Benneteau teamed up with Gasquet to face Federer and Wawrinka.

Guy Forget and Henri Leconte

Guy Forget and Henri Leconte, the heroes of the 1991 Davis Cup final and one of the best Davis Cup doubles pair ever, were honored on court ahead of the match:

Federer/Wawrinka vs Benneteau/Gasquet

As a French supporter this doubles match was a nightmare: Gasquet was totally lost on court, Julien Benneteau did all he could to help Gasquet, and Arnaud Clément was completely useless.
Straight sets victory for the Swiss, with a monster performance by Stan Wawrinka.

Second set Switzerland:

Game, set, match Switzerland:

At 2-1 for the Swiss, I knew it was already over and I would watch Federer’s win over Gasquet on TV. What a disappointment.

2014 Davis Cup final