Tennis Trip 2017 - La Manga, Spain
30 March 2017
Returns: 05 April 2017
La Manga, Spain
Staff member in charge
Mr Steve Newton
Other staff members on the trip:
Mr Fraser Muirhead
Miss Lindsay Allan
Mrs Christine Galloway
On Friday 31 March pupils in Forms I to III flew out to the stunning La Manga tennis resort in Spain to experience world-class tennis coaching and warm-weather training in preparation for the forthcoming tennis season in the Summer Term.
For each of the five days, the pupils will undergo morning and afternoon coaching sessions with the expert staff who will introduce the group to new training methods, warm-up and practice exercises as well as thorough coaching clinics and video analysis of their technique.
Off the courts, the pupils will be able to relax by the pool between coaching sessions in addition to a planned visit to the renowned Aqua Natura Water Park and eventually get to soak up the sun at Playa de Levante beach before heading back home to put these skills into practice over the rest of the Easter Break.
Read our blog below for daily updates.
The 4.00am Departure...
Usually a 4.00am departure on a rainy Friday morning might dampen the spirits of even the most enthusiastic traveller but not for the thirty pupils in Forms I to III who assembled very early to catch the flight from Glasgow airport to Alicante.
The pupils' early rise was very soon forgotten as they were met with sunshine aplenty and temperatures of around 22°C as we landed in Spain before journeying by coach to the world-famous La Manga sports resort in Murcia. It did not disappoint. Stunning is the word that describes this place.
The pupils were treated to a superb lunch on arrival and then it was straight onto the courts where they were introduced to James Rose, La Manga's Director of Tennis, and his team of world-class coaches who began to put the group through a series of warm-ups and drills designed to get the pupils moving and hitting lots of balls.
Another mouthwatering meal after their first session on the courts was followed by some evening chill-time for the pupils (and staff!) before heading early to bed with much tennis to be played tomorrow...
Down to business
Another cracking start to the day with a stunning sunrise over the Playa Honda viewed from our balconies before assembling for breakfast at the Panorama banquet room at 8.00am. We cannot stop raving about how good the food is here: plenty of cereals, toast, fresh juices and even fresher melon, strawberries, oranges and bananas all provided ample fuel for the day ahead.
James, our coach for the week and Head of Tennis at La Manga, had the boys' interest when he told of how a few weeks ago Liverpool FC were sat in this very room. Previous guests have included Belgian side Anderlecht and German giants Borussia Dortmund. It all served to underline just what a top-class facility these pupils are experiencing, and in a few years, who knows, one or two from this group might just be here in a very different capacity...
Soon it was on to the coach as we headed to the courts for a full-on three-hour coaching session that combined a mix of important lessons with a series of fun games that focused on developing consistency in hitting groundstrokes as well as each player developing a rhythm that enables them to hit the ball more confidently and accurately on the court.
Coaching staff are keen to encourage players to take on lots of fluids so pupils had mini-breaks inbetween practice with some enjoying getting watered down by the groundstaff who regularly dampen the clay for the next clinic!
The group was also treated to a highly impressive demo from James and Rafa (sadly not Nadal, but he is a hitting partner for some of the game's stars) who showed how a player can build on fundamental forehand skills to develop a variety of shots that can be used in a match.
The Heat is On
After a busy morning's tennis it was back for lunch and then an afternoon of free-time by the pool as well some crazy golf; Form I boys putting on an impressive array of jumps and dives as pupils cooled down in the afternoon sun.
A number of kids made a bee-line for the cafes and supermarket to stock up on water as well as grab a well-earned ice cream and soft-drink.
The evening's session was a more gentle hour and a half and this time the focus was on the serve and the technicalities involved in developing this part of the game. The coaching team underlined how important the serve is as a weapon on court and the four groups went through drills and exercises designed to enhance pupils' existing skill-sets, regardless of ability.
After another decent workout it was once again back to the Panorama banqueting suite for a meal of cod, barbecued chicken, courgettes, fried onions, rice and pasta (we know!) before the groups headed off to their apartments for some quiet time, relaxation and bed.
All to do again tomorrow...
Are you being served?
With an intensive two sessions covering groundstrokes under their belt from yesterday, the pupils were put through their paces on two very important technical aspects of the game that require plenty of practice - serving and volleying; and with a full three-hour morning session lined up they would have plenty of practice.
By now, the pupils are very familiar with their playing groups and warm-up drills before head coach James and his assistant José demonstrated to the pupils what they should be incorporating into their games with regards to serve and volley technique. A big part of volleying is ensuring constant movement and footwork so the pupils were kept on their toes for the whole morning. In addition, the coaches introduced the pupils to the different variations of volleying and when they should best be used. A series of fun, but demanding, exercises helped the players develop these skills.
Credit must again go to the top quality staff at La Manga who stress key learning criteria yet combine it with brilliant games and humour (such is the pupils' focus it occasionally flies over their heads).
It was back on to court this morning but this time Mr Newton had arranged a few surprises in store! Our aim, to keep the group on its toes. For our elite players, they had the opportunity to be part of a La Manga Academy class and test their skills against some of Europe's top youth players who were several years older. Euan and Lucy Mackenzie, Fraser Laing, and Euan Smith all reckoned it to be a great experience and allowed them to receive tailored tuition in very small groups.
Elsewhere, Mr Newton had arranged for our Form I and II girls to pit their skills against a group from St Catherine's College from East Sussex who were also visiting La Manga. Four doubles pairings played a series of round-robin matches over the course of the morning with Dollar Academy clinching a hard-fought 9-7 win. The girls stuck in really well after being behind and it was only in the last series of matches that they sealed the win. Some great tennis was on display and it seems some of this week's teaching has been taken on board. Vamos!
Game, Set and Match
After another busy tennis session this afternoon it was time to head to the beach on our last full day for some sun and sea. Pupils grabbed some rays, and headed to the local cafes for ice cream and soft drinks before heading back to the complex for the final tennis session of the tour.
As always, there was to be plenty of fun involved; pupils were divided into five mixed teams of six players each that involved some competitive doubles matches and challenges in order to find out which team would become tour champions.
After all the matches had ended, the scores were tallied and two teams ended up battling it out for first but it was to be the team captained by Form I pupil Charlie Saunders that emerged victorious and, along with team-mates Evan Rennie, Kirsty Galloway, Sorcha Williams, Lucy Mackenzie and Alex Mair, collected their first prizes from La Manga Director of Tennis James Rose. James also informed the winners that they were the first recipients to grace the purpose-built podium at La Manga.
The demands of competition were followed by a relaxing dinner in the banqueting suite followed by some free-time before the sun came down on a fantastic five days' tennis.