When you think of Mallorca you might not immediately think tennis. But, this small Balearic Islands boasts an impressive history of cultivating championship tennis stars.
First ‘created’ by the monks of Europe, tenniswas played widely throughout monasteries often as part of religious ceremonies. The French aristocracy then adopted the game and it became known as Royal (real) tennis. It was not long before the game spread and became very popular, especially in Spain.
Mallorca’s most notable tennis export is the world’s current number 1 (ranked by the Association of Tennis Professionals, ATP) – Rafael Nadal. However Nadal was not the firsttennis icon to come from this Mediterranean island; that accolade really should go to lesser-known Carlos Moyá.
Born in 1976, Moyá played tennis from an early age and became the protégé of Alberto Tous – a tennis star in his own right in the 60′s. During his teens Moyá had no rivals in the Balearics and moved to Barcelona to improve his game. In 1999 Moyá reached the pinnacle of World No 1 but was swiftly overtaken by the accomplished Pete Sampras. Despite this he has since then continued to compete at the highest levels, winning over 500 ATP matches.
Tennis star, Rafael ‘Rafa’ Nadal was born in Mallorca in 1986 and he is regarded as one of the greatest players of all time. His masterful success of playing on clay courts has earned him the impressive title of ‘The King of Clay’!
Nadal is not the only sports star in his family. His uncles include a retired professional footballer and a former professional tennis player, Toni Nadal, who introduced Rafa to the game at the grand age of 3! He has been coaching him ever since.
When Nadal reached turned 14 the Spanish Tennis Federation requested that he left Mallorca, as Moyá had done. However, Nadal’s family did not accept the offer believing strongly that if you were going to be an exceptional sports person then you should be able to fulfil your dream from any location.
By the tender age of 17, Rafa was ranked in the world’s top 50 players. His incredible success story culminated in August 2008 when he became ranked as No1 tennis player in the world and he has continued to be in the top two ever since.
Javier Ballester, the Managing Director of Taylor Wimpey de España spoke of the current passion for tennis in Mallorca,
“There are many tennis stars that come to Mallorca to train. It is not unusual to hear that Bjorn Borg, Steffi Graff, Ana Ivanovic are on the island brushing up their skills. The prestigious Tennis Academy attracts people from all over the world giving them the finest coaching and allowing them to enjoy all the wonderful features of Mallorca.”
A major development in Mallorca, is that tennis star Raphael Nadal, with the collaboration of the City of Manacor & the Consell de Mallorca, is to create an international tennis centre in his home town of Manacor. The construction is expected to begin at the end of the summer 2011 and will be entirely funded by Nadal.
The facility will include 25 tennis courts, a football ground, swimming pool, medical centre and accommodation for 100 athletes. A project like this is fabulous news for Mallorca, and does a great deal for heightening the profile of the island. It is anticipated that this centre will attract a variety of sports people who want to do some serious training.
April 18th sees the start of the Spanish Open in Barcelona and with prize money of €1,550,000 up for grabs the heat will be on. International tennis stars will be arriving in Spain to vie for their place in the 59th edition of the Barcelona Open. The ATP world tour is one of the most important events in Spanish tennis and of course for the Barcelona social calendar. Mallorca’s Nadal will be playing this year and hoping to put up a good fight against the defending champ Fernando Verdasco.
For more information contact Taylor Wimpey de España on 08000 121 020 or visitwww.taylorwimpeyspain.com.