The original Academia, based in Barcelona, Spain, achieved notoriety as the training ground for such accomplished touring pros as Andy Murray, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Ana Ivanovic, and others. The methodology used there has been adopted for use on this Florida campus. Their approach bundles technical exercises, tactical strategy, and competition with a greater than usual focus on physical training with a goal of enhancing strength, speed, agility, coordination, and flexibility with a special emphasis on injury prevention. And it supplements the on-court work with daily language classes (in Spanish or English). Boarding campers are housed, dormitory style, in supervised three-bedroom, air-conditioned condominiums and fed at the Club's restaurant.
Entering a crowded space, this Florida academy benefits from having Emilio Sánchez himself not only personally directing the programs but engaged in teaching on a daily basis. A former Top 10 singles player, Sánchez had his greatest successes in doubles, winning three Grand Slam doubles titles (two French, one U.S. Open) and reaching a No. 1 ranking. Under his direction, the academy emphasizes its very low student:pro ratios, as few as 1 or 2 students per pro in the year-round academy and no more than 4:1 in the weeklong camps. Its other distinguishing feature is adherence to "the Spanish Method." But just just what is the "Spanish Method"? Emilio Sánchez explains:
"The Spanish method is a way of placing yourself to hit the ball," he told me. "We divide the court in three areas [behind the baseline, from the baseline and service line and from the service line to the net]. Inside these areas we will always move diagonally to the ball. Our movement is always to go around the ball to be able to hit it." He goes on to add that training is divided. "We do 30% on drills, 30% on controls and 30% on match play and 10% is specific work on the pattern."
That necessarily means a heavy emphasis on footwork. "Because we emphasize going behind the ball, they have to work much harder in practice sessions and so in matches they are more like survivors, they are warriors because they are used to that and they don't mind running or going behind the ball because they know that by getting behind the ball they're going to have more options for where to hit it."
Rates and Reservations
The Academy offers a range of programs, with and without language study, including full time, weekly, and summer.
Summer: June 22-Aug. 31, 2015
Boarding: $1,600-$1,800/week. Non-boarding: $1,400-$1,600/week
4995 Airport Pulling Road Naples, FL 34105
239-263-1818 Web Link: Academia Sanchez-Casal-Florida
Here's what others have had to say about Academia Sanchez-Casal-Florida.
""—A.V., Beg., April 2016
"I had a great time at Academia Sanchez Casal. The coaches were very good teachers and the apartment more than met my needs. Naples offers great dining options, but it was also good to hit the clubhouse's buffet. I plan to return next year."—D.G., Int., April 2016
"We just finished up a fantastic stay at AS-C Florida in the beautiful beach town of Naples. Our son participated in the high performance junior program and experienced a level of coaching we have never seen before. The student population is diverse, both in terms of nationalities and experience. Our son was exposed to a very high level of competition but always with a friendly spirit. We were particularly impressed with the students who train there year round. It is obvious that this annual program is producing very talented and respectful kids who really embrace the spirit of the game.
The staff was unbelievably helpful and truly made this a wonderful experience for us. Taylor in admissions answered our many phone calls and emails with patience and grace. Once we arrived the front desk consistently went out of their way to accommodate us. The coaches worked diligently with our son to gave him the tools he needs, both physically and mentally, to get to the next level of his game. They never tried to change him as a player, instead really working with his existing strengths. Our son particularly enjoyed the fitness portion with Derek, who focused on injury prevention and really made fitness enjoyable for him.
The clubhouse itself is nestled away in a lush neighborhood of Naples, very close to the highway, restaurants, and shopping. It was a lovely getaway with lots to see and do while our son was on court.
We couldn't recommend this academy highly enough to anyone interested."—G.P., Adv., June 2014
"My children (daughter- age 15 and son- age 9) attended Sanchez-Casal in February for a week. My wife and I were very impressed with the facility, the training, and the commitment of the professionals at Sanchez-Casal. The very small group instruction was excellent. We got to meet Emilio and spend a fair amount of time with him and to understand his vision for the academy. It is very impressive indeed. Both of our children improved significantly in the week they were there- and they loved the experience! We were so happy with the program that we're coming back in April."—M.P., Adv. Int., April 2014
"My daughter is currently living and training at the Sanchez Casal Academy in Naples Florida. We decided to send her to train with Emilio in Naples after she had spent 3 summers training at the Academy in Barcelona Spain which had a major impact on her game.Living in San Diego it was a difficult choice to send her to live & train in Florida but we could not be happier. The one on one training w Emilio is second to none and the rest of the coaches are top class many who moved from Spain to train players at the new academy. Since our daughter is living at the academy and attending the school on campus we had some concerns naturally. However Emilio & family and his staff has treated or daughter as if she was their own. The staff has been fantastic in taking care of her every need. And the school and its staff have done a great job. The teacher student ratio is such that each student gets very specific one on one education. The facilities are good and upgrades are being done constantly. Our daughter is very happy and we as parents feel secure about her living training & studying at Sanchez - Casal"—D.J., Adv. Int., December 2013
"We sent our daughter here for a week of instruction. The positives are the multitude of courts with Hard-tru clay type surface on them, Tour caliber lights on the main court, and friendly staff.
The negatives are the lack of other facilities, the clubhouse was built in the 70's and looked and felt that way. There was a lack of acceptable available food and beverages for my daughter due to how basic the clubhouse and restaurant (generous term considering how they are running it) are setup.
Such a shame since the potential is there. Instruction was acceptable but different since they teach a much different style of play versus the other academies.
Overall, I would not recommend it versus the other great academies throughout florida. Avoid till they step up their game."—B.H., Adv., November 2013