2 November 2018

Return to the Rafa Nadal Academy by Movistar: the ITF Seniors Tournament, October 2018

What can you expect at an ITF Seniors Tournament in at Rafa Nadal Academy by Movistar in Mallorca? Great tennis matches, a whole bunch of new friends and the coldest bath this side of the North Pole.


“You have a winner,” said Lana, bouncing up to us and indicating her excitement with some of her highly impressive dance moves. “I won my group!”

It’s the last day of the ITF Seniors Tournament at the Rafa Nadal Academy by Movistar in Mallorca and Lana is celebrating winning the over 35 women’s singles. It's great news. Players from Local Tennis Leagues have been doing themselves proud in this tournament and as the final matches are being played, the glass frames for the winners’ certificates are being made in the factory owned by Rafa’s Dad.

Much is made of Rafa's values at this Centre and there is no doubt that a friendly openess is chief among them. By the end of the first day when we met in the bar for a welcome drink, we had already acquired two new German friends and by the end of the week, we had made many more, including two from Greenwich (hola Zarqa and Michelle!). Two people in our group found themselves new partners for mixed doubles on day one and even if you come here on your own, you are unlikely to feel alone for long.

The ITF calls this a Seniors tournament, a slightly unflattering term for anyone over the age of 35. In our group, ages ranged from 36 to 70, and everyone is divided into 5 year age categories. The number of matches you play depends on both how many tournaments you enter (singles, doubles, and or mixed doubles) and how many players there are in your group. Small groups play round robin, larger groups play a knock out, with plate or consolation matches for those who lose their first match. So there is lots of tennis! In between matches, or before the action starts at 9am, you can have a free hit on the clay courts if they are available. If you want still more tennis, you can hire a hard court for Euros 22. Both surfaces are extremely high quality and if you are used to playing on tarmac in the UK, your knees will definitely notice the difference. 

The Centre is five minutes walk from Manacor where Rafa grew up. If you walk into town, check out the market on a Monday, the Manacor Tennis Club (where Rafa is still a member) for a coffee or one of the rather good local sports shops. When you're not playing tennis, you might, as two in our group did, get a bus to Palma (just Euros 14 return) or hire a car and go to the local caves (highly recommended with a surprise which we won’t spoil). It’s a ten minutes drive to Porto Cristo, the coastal village where Rafa lives (spot his yacht in the harbour) and on the last night half our group helped support the local economy with a trip to Manacor’s Vinyl night club (they said it was the busiest they had ever had!).

At the end of a day on court, the excellent, low-lit spa provides a soothing soak for tired limbs. For the brave, there is an ice bath, a vertical pool where you lower yourself on a ladder. It’s rather as if someone has drilled a hole in the Arctic and you have to plunge in like a polar bear (but dressed only in your cozzie). A lightning dip was enough for most of us, but Tosin managed to an mpressive 10 seconds, head fully submerged.

On the final Friday, we all gathered by the café adjacent to the clay courts, beer in hand to raise a glass to our Local Tennis League (and other) champs. We had winners in 4 groups: congratulations to Sarah (in two categories!), Asad the impressive and the dancing queen, Lana. We also had 11 runners up: well done once again to Tosin, proving the benefit of those ice baths; Andrii (still winning at 70!); David with the demon serve; and in the Doubles groups, Milos and Asad (third time returners to the centre, who narrowly missed defending their doubles title); Antonia (brilliantly coming back from injury) and the always-cheerful Viera; Adam and Arun (who came within a whisker or two of winning) and the consistent Teresa andOlivia (whose hard hitting cross court back hand winner was the envy of all who encountered it). If there weren't prizes on this trip for Brian, George, Jay, Olena or Rosanna, it is simply a matter of time. Hasta la vista a todos!


  • The next ITF Tournament at the Rafa Nadal Sports Centre by Movitstar which runs from 10-17 March 2019. By booking through us, you can get a 55 discount. This means for half board (breakfast & dinner) and tournament entry, it costs just Euros 465.50 per person for two sharing (instead of Euros 490) or Euros 703 for a single room (instead of Euros 740). Excludes flights (currently extraordinarily cheap!)  This discount is available by emailing or phoning the centre. It is not available online. There is more inormation here.

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