By Gavin Gibbon
New academy set to officially open in February as part of Shaikh Jaber Al Abdullah Al Jaber Al Sabah International Tennis Complex
The Rafa Nadal Academy in Kuwait could produce the first ever Grand Slam-winning champion from the Middle East in the years ahead, according to its tennis director Toni Nadal.
And he should know, the uncle of currently number one-ranked Rafa Nadal, he is also the Spanish legend’s former coach.
Kuwait already has a promising youth set-up, courtesy of the Kuwait Tennis Federation, and swept all the titles in the recent GCC Youth Tennis Championships in Bahrain.
Earlier this month Kuwait added the under-14 team title and the under-14 and under-18 individual titles to the under-18 team title they had previously won.
The Rafa Nadal Academy Kuwait will serve as the training and development hub of the all-new Shaikh Jaber Al Abdullah Al Jaber Al Sabah International Tennis Complex.
It is the Spaniard’s first overseas academy, having launched his inaugural academy in Mallorca in 2016, which caters for 130 players ranging from 11 to 19-years-old.
Toni Nadal admitted it would be “unbelievable” to have a Grand Slam champion from the new facility.
He told Arabian Business: “We know that it is not easy that someone from here can become Grand Slam champion, but I know that it’s not impossible and I know that if someone wants to work really hard, they’ll have the possibility to be a champion. I want to work with this confidence, I want to work with this motivation.
“I don’t know how many years I need, but I hope in a few years we can have people from here in the ATP Tour and in the WTA Tour.”
The academy also features a state-of-the-art fitness centre and a players’ lounge with a focus on healthy F&B options.
Head of tennis at the academy is former ATP and Portuguese Davis Cup captain Nuno Marques, who has been pivotal to the success of the Mallorca venture.
He said: “The Rafa Nadal methodology includes five main sections: tennis training, physical training, mental training, nutrition and competition. We are bringing that method to Kuwait.
“We want to create national champions, yet every journey must start at the beginning. Our coaches will engage with members, visitors and the community to transfer tennis knowledge and stress the importance of healthy, active lifestyles.”