REPORT – Near Nice, Patrick Mouratoglou, coach of tennis champions, including Serena Williams, founded a French and international school, with a college and a high school. Students train with the greatest players.
On this Monday in June, the sun is heating up on the 34 tennis courts that make up the Mouratoglou Academy, in the heart of Sophia-Antipolis (Alpes-Maritimes). While teenagers train hard to exchange balls, other young people revise the bac and the patent, at the end of the central court, in a building colored clay, of course. Here, students grow up in an idyllic setting. “The weather is the best in France. It’s perfect for playing tennis.”, says Patrick Mouratoglou, who trained champion Serena Williams for ten years. But rigorous. “Our students have the same mentality. They want to succeed. They are fulfilled and very sure of themselves. I see them expressing their personality throughout the year, their love for this place. I get enormous satisfaction out of it.”says the famous coach.
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In 1996, Patrick Mouratoglou embarked on a crazy project: to create a tailor-made school system, with flexible hours, from 6th to 12th grade. “I would have loved to have had this kind of school when I was a child. My parents never wanted me to sacrifice my studies for tennis. I wanted young people to be able to reconcile the two., says the 52-year-old coach with clear eyes, tall, slender and athletic, of course. The best tennis players in the world, the coach knows them well. He also coached Marcos Baghdatis from the age of 13, but also Stéfanos Tsitsipas or Grigor Dimitrov. Since April, he has coached the great Romanian player Simona Halep.
A French and international college
The Mouratoglou International School is a private non-contract establishment and offers two different courses. One is taught in French, and responds to the program of the Ministry of National Education. The other is modeled on the American program, for international students. “Hi how are you?”, launch the students in the corridors, on the ground floor of the school. And the school results are also exceptional: at the patent, the success rate is 100%, for a rate of mentions of 78%. At the baccalaureate, only one candidate has not had it since 2016, thus lowering the success rate to 98% for 73% of mentions.
For Maxence, 18, in final year, the Mouratoglou Academy is a chance. “I came in 4th grade. I have always needed a balance between studies and sport, because I believe that it allows you to become aware of your body and to develop your mind. Such a rhythm also inculcates values such as surpassing oneself and perseverance., explains the young man, keen on tennis and athletics. Living in such an environment is a dream. In total, 12 hectares make up the Mouratoglou Resort, which surrounds the Mouratoglou Academy, including a hotel with a racket-shaped swimming pool, a restaurant, a reception area with a fine sandy beach. A last building at the bottom of the complex is dedicated to the families of the players. “The family of Stéfanos Tsitsipas lives there. But also some parents who have decided to follow their young children enrolled in school.explains the Mouratoglou Academy.
A rigorous program
In total, 200 students of 45 different nationalities are enrolled in college or high school. Among them, three quarters follow the tennis studies course with half of their time devoted to lessons and the other to sport. At the boarding school, located above the classrooms, boys (who make up two-thirds of the workforce) and girls are separated. A governess manages the organization and supervisors take turns day and night. A total of 38 teachers are employed. “The vast majority have at least ten years of experience”notes Stéphanie Anfosso, in a small classroom.
“It’s a tough program. You really have to work, have a project, gain autonomy quickly and be serious. It’s not easy for everyone”, specifies the director of the French school. To achieve the best success and offer the most personalized support possible, the school has chosen to have classes of only 10 to 15 students. A guarantee of success. “You learn faster”notes Maxence.
“In France, sport is not valued enough in higher education. In the United States, young athletes are almost seen as gods.Patrick Mouratoglou
Places are few and therefore expensive. For the French school, a French and maths test are required. For the international school, it is an English and maths test. All students must pass an oral interview. Parents also have an appointment with the educational team. Old bulletins, generally from the last two years, are requested. This all has a cost. For a formula including lessons, 3 language reinforcement sessions and 3 sports sessions, the average annual amount is €17,500. For the formula including all the options (intensive training, accommodation, canteen, lessons, etc.), families must pay between 40,000 and 50,000€.
Goal United States
The objective is also to support high school graduates to continue their studies at a university in the United States in particular. “In France, sport is not valued enough in higher education. It is the cross and the banner to obtain arranged schedules. In the United States, young athletes are almost seen as gods.observes Patrick Mouratoglou, before joining Simona Halep to attend her training.
Fanny Fracasi is the director of university placement at the school. Its role is to support students throughout the application and selection process across the Atlantic. “There are 98% of students who will apply in the United States, Canada or the United Kingdom. And 90% of them are accepted in the United States. We start together to put together their application file in 1st. I contact the American coaches, we then negotiate the university scholarships. Finally, I prepare the admission file and I help to find accommodation»details the tennis player who graduated from the University of Tampa in Florida. “It would allow me to do higher education while continuing my passion, tennis”, shares Mathis, 14, 3rd grader. San Diego, Princeton, Berkley, Columbia… The largest American establishments are in contact each year with the Mouratoglou Academy. “To confirm their choice and their motivation, every year I take about fifteen students to the United States in February, during the holidays, for a week. They discover 4 to 6 universities, train, meet the coaches”concludes Fanny Fracasi, who organized a trip to Florida this year.