Missing the old Rafa



That tennis is only for the elite seemed to have been proved by no other than Rafael Nadal, of all people.

Last month, Nadal, or Rafa to fans of the Spanish superstar, held a clinic in Makati City as part of his commitment to the organizers of the International Premier Tennis League, which marked its second year in 2015.

Fine, the clinic was expected as a more than meet-and-greet affair, with participants seen to be given pointers on serves, smashes, drop shots, etc., suitable for the mostly pre-teeners who took part.

From reports, it turned out that those who attended the crash course on tennis belonged to the upper classes, not from some barangay in Tondo who may have Roland Garros or Wimbledon on their mind.

Probably, Nadal had had a little difficulty in talking with members of the chi-chi set, his English not at par with that of his students.

The clinic, incidentally, was held at an exclusive school run by priests from the Catholic Church, not at some multi-purpose center in Barrio Obrero.

It was one event where Rafa hobnobbed with future lawyers and doctors, not with young people whose way out of poverty is tennis or boxing.

The Spanish former No. 1 seemed to have given the impression that he does not hold clinics for those who cannot even afford to buy tennis balls (never mind the tennis rackets, they are way too expensive for Mang Pedro the jeepney driver or Aling Juana the turon vendor whose son or daughter dreams of being the next Nadal or Sharapova).

To be fair, the visitor from Mallorca could not have known that he was to face a group of kids smelling like the most expensive of French perfumes or wearing designer watches.

If he knew, he may have requested that the clinic participants be of a more democratic mix of the upper, middle and lower income groups.

But then the harm has been done and one lesson learned from this sorry affair is that it is never in good taste to conduct clinics along class lines.

For one, the coño set may not even be interested at all in learning how to execute the backhand a la Federer or the forehand a la Henin but only in having a selfie with Nadal and earning bragging rights at school and elsewhere after the holiday season.

Next time, we hope that Rafa would be more inquiring of his official engagements as a tennis player on tour by asking his hosts if he was going to be fed to the lions.

We miss the Nadal of old, when he was already a big star.

A story was that Rafa was in a long line at the cafeteria of some Grand Slam.

Ever gracious and humble, he waited for his turn but, when he was finally in front of the girl taking food orders, he was told that she does not work overtime.

Behind the Spaniard was a sports writer, who told the girl that she should serve Rafa, please, and she budged, grudgingly, when told that Nadal was, well, Nadal.

Through it all, Nadal did not tell the girl who he was, whispering to the writer that he was willing to wait.

We want that superstar back.


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  1. I think you are mistaken, it would be the kids who were having trouble understanding english as i have found all over the PH

  2. thank you for that piece. when i saw the pictures of the clinic Rafa attended, i suspected that he was used by some people for their own agenda. tennis in the philippines is in dire need of reality check. your observation is on target.
    i am planning to retire there and bring with me what i learned teaching tennis in the U.S. the project is to select, trained and develop 10 and under kids in the countryside. the target place initially is region 1. target date, 2017
    im in the process of developing a concept of how to go about with my project without government interference. it would be nice if you can help propagate this concept or give me some contacts to be a part of it. visit my website for information.