On Sunday, Sept. 10 — the same day Boca Raton residents were being hit with outer bands from the eye-wall of Cat. 4 Hurricane Irma — Spain’s Rafael “Rafa” Nadal beat South African Kevin Anderson in three sets(6-3, 6-3, 6-4) to win the U.S. Open in Queens, NY.
The very idea that a tennis player of Nadal’s caliber— he is currently ranked No. 1 in the world in men’s singles tennis — might be considering locating a Youth Tennis Program bearing his name in Boca Raton, is music to local tennis enthusiasts’ ears.
Executive Director and Legal Counsel for the Greater Boca Raton Beach & Park District Arthur Koski informed the Board on Aug. 30 that while up in New York visiting his grandson, he took a Sunday meeting with Nadal’s manager regarding their desire to establish a tennis facility in Boca Raton, and to develop a relationship.
Koski said he wished to gauge the Beach & Park District Board to see if there was some interest in going forward with discussions with the Nadal foundation, without making a commitment.
Commissioner Craig Ehrnst asked, “What is their [Nadal’s foundation] mission?”
“He [Nadal] has $40 million invested in Spain, his home country, in a facility built for the youth of his community. He has a desire to see kids progress,” Koski explained.
Commissioner Susan Vogelsang asked, “Are they suggesting they’ll pay for the facility and we provide the location? It’s no free ride.”
The question was also raised if there was any indication of another location for the Nadal tennis facility?
Koski said Nadal’s foundation had talked to the county. “It was their suggestion to look at South County Park (just south of Camino Real on A1A),” he said.
Koski said he was instead thinking of Patch Reef Park as an ideal location, since the park already has a tennis facility, built in 1986, which is in need of some updates.
“For our Patch Reef Park Tennis Facility to carry his name… [would be an honor],” added Koski.
After Beach & Park District Board members had a chance to ring in, a motion passed to allow Koski to proceed with further discussions with
Nadal’s people regarding Youth Tennis. “To at least explore the use of Boca Raton as an avenue,” Koski said.
Patch Reef Tennis
The existing Patch Reef Park Tennis Center, tucked into the striking 55-acre Patch Reef Park at 2000 W. Yamato Rd., Boca Raton, 33431, features 17 lighted, Plexi-cushion courts, four practice walls, a pro shop, ball machines, lockers, showers and more.
Once inside the park located 1/4 mile west of Military Trail onYamato, follow the winding road straight back to the Tennis Center.
The facility offers tennis programs for all ages — Junior, Adult, Men’s & Women’s, Senior, as well as hosting USTA and Wheelchair tournaments. (A USTA Tournament slated for Sept. 16 to 18 was cancelled due to Hurricane Irma.)
The Greater Boca Raton Beach & Park District and the City of Boca Raton jointly operate and maintain the park. For more information on Patch Reef Park Tennis Center, call 561-367-7090.
Tennis academy in Spain
Nadal opened his tennis academy in Manacor, Spain (where he resides) in 2016.
The tennis academy features 18 multi-sport courts, a sports museum, classrooms, apartments and a special clinic.
“It’s a very special day for me; our goal is to teach and explain the history of tennis and other Spanish sports at an international level,” Nadal said at the opening of his academy.
The goal of the Rafael Nadal Sports Center is to guide and teach 140 students, ages 10 to 18, from 40 countries around the world.
In 2015, Nadal’s foundation also developed a program to assist Spanish athletes in receiving scholarships and financial assistance at United States colleges.