Rafael Nadal gives 25 New York City middle schoolers tennis lesson of a lifetime

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ByCeFaan Kim via WABC logo
Friday, August 26, 2022
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More than two dozen lucky middle schoolers on Randall's Island now have the privilege of calling tennis player Rafael Nadal their mentor and honorary coach. CeFaan Kim has more on the story of kindness.

RANDALL'S ISLAND, New York (WABC) -- More than two dozen lucky middle schoolers on Randall's Island now have the privilege of calling tennis player Rafael Nadal their mentor and honorary coach.

Nadal is one of the greatest tennis players of all time and is known for his killer topspin and lefty forehand.

"Work, work, and work. And of course, we need to move well and to hit a good shot," Nadal said. "If the footwork is not working and we are not moving well around the ball then it's impossible to hit some good shots. But the main thing to start in my opinion is to keep looking at the ball all the time. Don't worry about if the ball goes in or out."

It was the opportunity of a lifetime for the future stars at the John McEnroe Tennis Academy.

For some, it was a humbling experience.

"It feels great when a professional is here watching you, and he has a really great attitude," one student said.

For others, it might have made them a little overconfident.

"I wanna play him and if he goes easy on me I'll probably beat him," said one young tennis player.

These kids come from under-resourced public schools across the city who otherwise wouldn't have access to tennis, let alone a tennis superstar.

For one kid, this was her first time picking up a tennis racket and she got a one-on-one lesson with Nadal.

"What's his name again?" student Kylie Dinkins said. "He told me to like put it up."

Dinkins did forget Nadal's name, but she didn't forget her lesson.

"Doing things outdoors and being active. Not all kids have exposure to that especially in some of the communities here," said Tim Wennes, Santander U.S. CEO.

The event was made possible by Santander Bank which partnered with City Year.

City Year is a non-profit organization that helps students stay in school and on track to graduate high school.

"Hopefully it gives them an opportunity to see greatness," Wennes said. "Today here they get to see someone who is a world champion and someone who has persevered and been successful, and hopefully it gives them some hope."

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