Learning Tennis, The Nadal Way

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Margot Da Costa spent her freshman sports season at Verona High School playing first singles on the tennis team. It was a debut filled with more losses than wins, but that could change sophomore year, now that Da Costa is back from a week at the camp operated by world tennis great Rafael Nadal.

Da Costa went to the Spanish island of Mallorca in June to train with teen tennis players from around the world at the Rafa Nadal Academy by Movistar. “I saw some people who were amazing,” she says. “Just being there was a great experience.”

Camp consisted of conditioning exercises and four hours of tennis instruction every day, usually outdoors in 100-degree heat. “It was hard to drink enough water for that,” she says. Also hard: Sleeping for a week in a dorm with other campers, because Da Costa has her own room at home.

Da Costa began playing tennis at age seven with the Verona Recreation Department. When not playing at VHS, she trains four days a week at the Centercourt Athletic Club of Chatham. She loves the game, and hoped that the Nadal Camp would help her improve her topspin. “There are some pretty good players in our division,” she says.

The Nadal camp was a chance to focus on skills, and some of the other signature aspects of Nadal’s game, like demonstrating sportsmanship and staying relaxed on the court while playing with passion and intensity. The camp costs $2,500 and up for one week, and there is no guarantee of seeing Nadal while training there. During Da Costa’s week, he was in England prepping for Wimbledon. (The champ was forced to pull out of his semi-final match against Nick Kyrgios after an abdomen injury; Novak Djokovic took home the trophy this year.) In addition to summer camps for teens and adults, the Rafa Nadal Academy also offers full-year programs that combine tennis and academics at its Rafa Nadal International School.

Margot DaCosta (far right, blue shirt), with her training group and instructors.

When they weren’t training, the Nadal campers were taken on excursions to see other aspects of Mallorca, including its beaches and bays. Nadal is a native of Mallorca, an autonomous region in the Mediterranean southeast of Barcelona. “Rafa loves the island,” Da Costa says.

Da Costa hopes to return to the camp in the future, and she hopes that Verona children will learn to love tennis as much as she does. “Focus on learning your technical skills–your ground strokes and serve technique–and your footwork very early on,” she says. “It is hard to improve bad technique later on.”

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Virginia Citrano
Virginia Citranohttps://myveronanj.com
Virginia Citrano grew up in Verona. She moved away to write and edit for The Wall Street Journal’s European edition, Institutional Investor, Crain’s New York Business and Forbes.com. Since returning to Verona, she has volunteered for school, civic and religious groups, served nine years on the Verona Environmental Commission and is now part of Sustainable Verona. She co-founded MyVeronaNJ in 2009. You can reach Virginia at [email protected].

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