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Emilio Sanchez Vicario (center) is joined by Feliciano Lopez (to his left) and others to announce the creation of the 2018 Casper Tour.

Sanchez Vicario Announces 'Casper Tour' To Honour Former Student

Sanchez Vicario's foundation was awarded an ATP ACES For Charity grant this year

Emilio Sanchez Vicario and Feliciano Lopez announced on Tuesday the creation of the 2018 Casper Tour, a series of junior tennis events being held to honour the life of Casper Fernandez, a student at Academia Sánchez-Casal in Florida who passed away last July after a battle against bone cancer at the age of 16.

“The Casper Tour is a tour born from tragedy. Casper was a tennis player who was trying to follow his dream of becoming a champion,” Sanchez Vicario said. “He showed so much courage. In the first moments, he was angry. But then he realised he wanted to help and he wanted to give back. So he convinced his father and me and everyone to try to put something together to help others.”

And from that, the 2018 Casper Tour was born. Players ages nine through 14 will be able to compete in the tournaments, with draws for each year, which are meant to maximise the amount of time juniors get on the court in a competitive environment, rather than forcing them to play against kids older than them. The events are set to take place in Spain (Madrid, Barcelona, Marbella and Valencia), the United States (New York, Atlanta, Miami and Naples) and China.

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“We lose a lot of good players because at some moments they are just not able to win,” Sanchez Vicario said. “So this tour’s identity is that the kids [will be able to] learn the best values of our sport: the discipline, the learning to be able to be competitors and to do the best at whatever they’re doing in whatever moment, winning or losing.”

The World No. 30, Lopez, has a special connection with Fernandez. Lopez’s father taught the youngster in Spain until he decided that Fernandez’s talent was strong enough to send to Sanchez Vicario’s academy in Florida.

“He was like my brother. He was very willing to become a professional tennis player,” Lopez said. “So after this tough situation, we were thinking how to create something with his name around the world. We also needed to do something not only for him, but to help others. That’s what he really wanted to do. Before he passed away he wanted to create this legacy. He was always trying to help others.”

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According to Sanchez Vicario, he’s happy to see everyone coming together to honour Fernandez.

“To try to help others and to give back is something that is amazing. It brings people together,” the former singles World No. 7 and doubles World No. 1 said. “We can bring people together and then we give back so much in so many ways. I’m very proud of this. I’m very proud to be close to the family and the ATP and the foundations and everyone that wants to be involved in this. I’m overwhelmed by the opportunity.”

Fundación Emilio Sánchez Vicario, an organisation that Lopez works closely with, received an ATP ACES For Charity grant at the beginning of the year.

The ATP ACES For Charity program, which launched in 2011, is a global initiative aimed at giving back to communities where ATP World Tour events are played, as well as recognising and supporting tournament, player and alumni charitable initiatives. Since 2011, the grant programme has awarded 85 grants totalling more than $1,000,000 in donations.

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