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By Richard Pagliaro | @Tennis_Now | Thursday, June 13, 2024
Photo credits: Rafa Nadal Academy by Movistar

The king of clay delivered inspiring address on a very special day.

Graduates of the Rafa Nadal Academy Class of 2024 were treated to a double dose of world No. 1 advice. 

Watch: Federer's Dartmouth Commencement Speech Goes Viral 

The 22-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal spoke to the graduates, their families and teachers in a stimulating speech advocating the value of hard work, humility and perseverance pursuing goals.

In an emotional ceremony, a total of 52 young students graduated from the Rafa Nadal Academy by Movistar, concluding their academic and tennis education on the campus in Manacor.

As is now tradition, Rafa Nadal presided the ceremony and spoke to the families, the teachers and the young students with an inspiring message:

“A few months ago I had the chance to visit the Italian Dolomites in the company of mu friend and rival Roger Federer and there, in the mountains, we had a very interesting conversation about a word that I think is very important: Legacy.

“Both Roger and I agree on something we believe is of the utmost importance. How would we like to be remembered in a few years. How do we want the future generations to think of us?

"We are both very sure of our answers. It’s great that our achievements, our titles and our records are recognized, but that is academic because as the years go by it is probable that someone will arrive and do something better.

"What is important, then, is that which will always be remembered. Therefore, both Roger and I agree that we would like to be remembered as good people.

"We live in a society that highlights the WHAT and the NOW above all else. But I would like to highlight the importance of the HOW.

"When you are at university or on a tennis court, say to yourselves occasionally ‘how would I like my classmates to remember me?’ And my teachers? My friends?

"Since the word is very fashionable right now, I could tell you to try and be INFLUENCERS in your surroundings, but I prefer the term LEADERS. The people around you should see you as someone who should be copied because of their values."

Former world No. 1, 1998 French Open champion and long-time Nadal coach Carlos Moyà was the guest speaker at an event that is very special for the young tennis players, following in the footsteps of Pau Gasol, David Ferrer, Ona Carbonell, Ricky Rubio and Iga Swiatek who have all joined Rafa at graduation ceremonies in recent years (Roger Federer and Maria Sharapova did so remotely in 2020).

Moyà highlighted Rafa Nadal's personality and his values as keys to his sustained success in his speech to students:

“When I started working with Rafa, one of my concerns was what our relationship would be like.

"I’ve known him since he was 11 and I’ve watched him grow ever since, in different situations. We’ve been through countless situations together both on and off the court.

"He’s been a companion in practice sessions and at parties (we have and we had the right to enjoy ourselves), a friend, Davis Cup winners together for probably my most amazing memory on a tennis court, opponents, doubles teammates... all of that and more.

"But in my work with him, at times being demanding with him, listening to him at others, sharing, travelling together, winning, losing, having a hard time during injuries... I have to say that never in my life have I felt a lack of respect towards me or towards any member of the team, and that is practically impossible to find nowadays. If you watch matches on TV you will see what I’m saying.

For the 52 students, the ceremony marked the end of their time at the Rafa Nadal School, a mixed Anglo-American international education school for children aged 3 to 18 located within the Rafa Nadal Academy.

Although the original concept of the school was designed for tennis players at the Academy to combine their tennis training with academic education, Rafa Nadal always wanted to open the doors to all young people in Mallorca, tennis players or otherwise, so that they can all benefit from the facilities and the academic program.

This approach allows the tennis players at the academy to share classrooms with the other students, fostering rewarding exchanges and educational and cultural experiences.

The Rafa Nadal Academy says the Rafa Nadal School "boasts modern, comfortable and technological sports facilities that provide an ideal environment for learning. One of the main goals of the academy is to provide students with the opportunity to access universities in the USA or anywhere else in the world, with a tennis and/or academic scholarship. So far, 100% of the tennis students who have graduated and planned to go to the USA to study, have been accepted and received scholarships with American universities."

Photo credits: Rafa Nadal Academy