Rafael Nadal’s Cousin Makes ITF Pro Tour Debut at the Age of 16

Published 01/04/2021, 6:12 AM EST
Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates victory with the trophy alongside coach Toni Nadal after the men’s singles final against Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland on day fifteen of the French Open at Roland Garros on June 11, 2017 in Paris, France. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)


Tennis superstar Rafael Nadal’s cousin Joan Nadal Vives made his ITF professional tour debut at Manacor in Spain on Monday. However, the debut match didn’t go well for the son of Nadal’s long-time coach and uncle Toni as he went down 1-6, 3-6 to Kuzey Cekirge of Turkey.

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However, that didn’t take away from the excitement around another Nadal taking his first steps in the highly competitive arena of international tennis.

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At 16, Joan has plenty of years to hone his skills and needs to look no further than his uncle and twenty-time Grand Slam winner as the one to seek advice from and possibly model his tennis on.

Nadal’s cousin doesn’t have to look too far for someone to model his tennis on

Joan’s father is regarded as the second most successful coach in the history of tennis. From an impressionable child of six, who was split between tennis and soccer, Nadal was turned by Toni into an all-conquering warrior who now vies for tennis greatness with rivals Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.

Toni’s more than twenty years of association with the Spaniard produced 16 Grand Slam titles.

While his enviable coaching record with Nadal made him the best that the game has seen, it was surpassed, before long, by Djokovic’s coach Marian Vajda after the Serb won his 17th Grand Slam title on his watch at the Australian Open last year.

At 16, Nadal’s cousin has plenty of years to hone his tennis skills

If Toni can help his son reach anywhere near where his nephew has, the extended Nadal family will have found its next tennis star.

In a question-and-answer session with some children supported by his Foundation, Nadal had owed his fame and success in the game to his uncle.

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Revealing that he wouldn’t have been the tennis star that he is today had it not been for his uncle, Nadal said he took his first lessons in tennis at Toni’s Manacor coaching club and it was on his watch that he picked up an interest in the game and eventually decided to make a career out of it.

The 16-year-old hasn’t yet broken into the juniors or seniors rankings but one suspects it won’t be long before that happens.

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Priyabrata Chowdhury

863 articles

Priyabrata Chowdhury is a tennis author for EssentiallySports. He has been a print journalist for a decade, producing news pages for leading national dailies such as the Hindustan Times and The New Indian Express. His passion for sports eventually drove him to tennis writing.

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