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Tuesday, June 28, 2022

The springboard from Mallorca to Wimbledon

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The road meanders through pines, palm trees and luxurious villas until it ends at the entrance to the Mallorca Country Club, a facility the size of two football pitches, where a few meters ahead a man is inspecting the condition of the racetrack’s lawn. He does it meticulously, as if he doesn’t want to miss a single thread. British gardening. His name is Gordon Johnstone, he is English and works for the AELTC (All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club); for the club among the clubs, that is sovereign Wimbledon.

“It’s not easy to take care of the grass this year because it’s very hot and some days it doesn’t loosen even at night. But everything is fine, although an extra water is enough. We are satisfied,” comments the manager responsible for ensuring that the green is in perfect condition for the tournament that started last Saturday in Santa Ponça, in the south-west of the island, in the exclusive municipality of Calviá. There, next to the Serra de Tramuntana, some of the best tennis players in the world compete today. Among them the number one, the Russian Daniil Medvedev, accompanied in the parade by personalities such as the Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas, the Australian Nick Kyrgios or Roberto Bautista.

Payroll isn’t random. “Unlike the other tournaments that are part of the grass tour [Queen’s, Halle, Eastbourne, Sttutgart o s-Hertogenbosch], this guarantees the player to be able to train normally and without fear every day. Otherwise, they have to be aware of the weather and the rain, and here they have the guarantee of arriving at Wimbledon with a good film,” explains a member of the organization, satisfied with the growth and development of the only tournament on grass (ATP 250 category ) in Spain, the third most important at national level after Madrid (Masters 1000) and Godó de Barcelona (500).

Panoramic view of the central circuit of Mallorca Country Club, venue of the Mallorca Championships.FRANCISCO UBILLA

The embryonic project was born in 2016 with the Mallorca Open and in a women’s format. After that, players like Maria Sharapova, Garbiñe Muguruza or Martina Hingis (as a doubles player) took part, although after four editions the group e|motion – founded and directed by the German Edwin Weindorfer – decided to transform it into a men’s tournament and is slowly gaining ground Established itself in the racket’s annual calendar thanks to important institutional support and the registration of top players. Last year, without going further, Serbian Novak Djokovic was spotted at the Mallorca Championships (official name) playing in pairs and crafting his attack at Wimbledon on the Mallorca mat.

“Word of mouth in the dressing room worked. player [Pablo Carreño, Feliciano López o Jaume Munar también se han dejado ver] They come here because they want to play here. We got the frame hook from the island. The weather is very good and you can prepare well. In addition, we have found a good fit in the calendar,” adds the same organization member. “Last year we were only at 50% capacity due to the pandemic, but this time the tournament has definitely taken shape at full capacity. We have sold practically all the tickets”, specifies the general manager of e|motion in Spain, Pilar Carbonell.

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Since his birth, the Mallorca Championship It was under the umbrella of Wimbledon, which intends to put its distinguished stamp on all tournaments dependent on the great Britons; from the care and quality of the pitches to its vocation as a social association. Also exclusivity. From last year to this year, the organization has doubled the number of VIP boxes (from 20 to 40) and the opening of the previous edition was attended by Prince Albert of Monaco, a huge tennis fan and an honorary member of the club ever since.

Wimbledon’s alluring seal isn’t the only catch. At the helm of the tournament is Toni Nadal, uncle and goldsmith of the tennis player who owns the most Grand Slams in history. “It’s not easy to bring five with you top 10 last year’s circuit and we made it. I think we’re giving the great players a good opportunity, along with the quality of our pitch. We have a great lineup this year led by Daniil Medvedev, the current world number one. Lawn tennis at the highest level and an exciting tournament are guaranteed. We’re growing every day,” estimates the tournament director.

Detail of the lawn of the central stretch of Mallorca.
Detail of the lawn of the central stretch of Mallorca.FRANCISCO UBILLA

And his nephew Rafael confirms he spent a week rehearsing at the Mallorca Country Club facilities before moving to London to complete the tuning and confirm his participation in the Great Britains (from June 27th to July 10th). certify. Of course, Johnstone had only one condition: that he change lanes each day – six of the 12 that make up the complex’s landscape are natural grass – with the goal of preserving the grass.

“For me as a Mallorcan it is a privilege to have a tournament like this and I am grateful that they have allowed me to train here. An international event of this kind is always positive for the island. Top players have returned. It puts you on the map and promotes something positive like sport,” explained last week the man from Manacor, who was confirmed as runner-up by Wimbledon yesterday – meaning he could only meet Djokovic, first sword, in the final – and Who today (3.30 p.m.) meets the Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka at the exhibition in Hurlingham. On Friday he faces the second test against Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime.

TWICE GREEN: NO PLASTIC AND A SUSTAINABLE COMMITMENT

AC | Santa Ponsa

In addition to lifestyle, the Mallorca Championships proposal also includes sustainability. In this edition, the organization has eliminated single-use plastic – an estimated savings of about 60,000 bottles – and the cutlery is made from potato starch, Carbonell told the newspaper.

The green bet also extends to balls. The Green Ball company recycles the rubber of the balls used during the tournament, and on the other hand, volunteers – children from different parts of the island – take part in cleaning activities on the beaches of the region.

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