Roberto Carballes Baena
I would love to represent my country
The youngest Spaniard in the top 100, 25-year-old Carballes Baena trains at the JC Ferrero Equelite Academy near Valencia in Spain.
Founded in 1990 by Antonio Martinez Cascales, JC Ferrero Equelite Sport Academy has established a reputation as one of the best academies in the world. Former world No 1, Juan Carlos Ferrero, who was coached by Cascales, has a big presence at the academy, actually living on site.
The academy has seen some of the world’s best talent come through its doors, players like Pablo Carreno-Busta. It has also nurtured some of the best young talent including Nicola Kuhn, Mario Vilella, Matija Pecotic, Carlos Sanchez Jover and Rafa Izquerdo.
Located 5 minutes away from Villena and 30 minutes away from the airport and beach of Alicante, the academy was chosen by Roberto Carballes Baena as his base.
The 25 year-old is a talented Spanish player, currently ranked 77 in the world. In February of this year he notched up his biggest win, when he defeated Albert Ramos-Vinolas to win the ATP 250 in Quito, Ecquador.
Here he talks exclusively to tennishead about his tennis life and why he chose to train at the JC Ferrero Equelite Academy.
How old were you when you started playing tennis?
I started when I started walking. At 3 years old I was already hitting against a wall or at least trying.
Who were the tennis players you admired when you were growing up, and why?
I admired Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi. As I got older there was a match that I will always remember: when Juan Carlos Ferrero played against Lleyton Hewitt in the 2000 Davis Cup Final. Ferrero’s victory in a match that lasted just under four hours gave Spain its first Davis Cup title.
Are there any other tennis players in your family?
Both of my parents used to play tennis, although they were not professional.
Who is your current coach and where are you based?
I moved to Villena where the Equelite Academy is located at the beginning of last summer. Since then I have been working with the team there and my coach is Fran Martinez.
Why did you choose JC Ferrero Equelite Academy?
Pablo Carreño-Busta is a very close friend and he has been working there for two years. I decided to try it and since then it’s been going pretty well. I have known Pablo for at least 10 years since we met in Barcelona. It’s great having him as a friend.
How often do you go to the Academy?
When I have time, more often during the pre-season. Right now it’s hard because there are tournaments every weeks of the year and I am constantly travelling.
What do you like most about the facilities and location at JC Ferrero Equelite Academy?
It is a really nice place to practice because everything is under one roof, physio, psychology, nutrition and fitness. We all work as a team. That’s what I like the most.
Is Juan Carlos Ferrero a friend?
Juan Carlos is there supporting me. He is a really great person and humble. Sometimes I practice with him on court. I keep seeing him there. It’s awesome how he is always willing to play sports - not just tennis but also padel and golf as well.
There are nine Spanish players ranked in the world’s top 100. You are the youngest, how does that make you feel?
I am happy. This means we are all working hard.
How much would you like to play for your country?
Of course, I would love to represent my country. As I said earlier, the first Davis Cup Spain won is one of the things that inspired me to become a professional tennis player. It would be great to play at home with all that support.
What did it feel like to win your first ATP tournament in Quito? (main photo)
It made me very happy. It takes years of hard work to achieve something like that. I am grateful to my family for all of their support throughout the years.
Is clay your favourite surface?
Yes. I started playing on hard courts but when I start to compete nationally most of the matches were on clay so I grew to like it more.
What are your goals for your tennis?
To improve my game and give my best on the ATP circuit.
Photos @ JC Ferrero Equelite Academy