The world's best tennis breaks
With Wimbledon in full swing, Liat Hughes Joshi raises her game
Tuesday 25 June 2013
What's the attraction?
Every year, Wimbledon inspires thousands of us to head to our
local park courts for a few sets of tennis. Come the tournament's
end, most of us have then returned our rackets to the back of the
cupboard, forgetting about serves and volleys for another 50 weeks.
But, thanks perhaps to Mr Murray's successes (and more all-weather
and indoor facilities), times are changing – with a surge in
numbers heading on court regularly and year-round in the last five
years. Whether you're happy with just an occasional hit, are
planning to join a club for the first time or are already an
accomplished player, the best quick fix for your forehand (and
backhand and all the other shots) is to head off on an intensive
Best for bootcamp
The legendary Nick Bollettieri's IMG Academy (001 800 872 6425; imgacademy.com) alumni include Becker, Agassi, Seles, Sharapova and the Williams sisters. The core business at the Bradenton, Florida campus remains as a full-time residential training centre for aspiring champions. However, more run-of-the-mill players can sample Bollettieri's methods on half-day to five-day adult camps. The intensive regime kicks off with 8am warm-up sessions on one of the 56 courts, followed by five hours' coaching, plus an optional further hour of play late afternoon. The tennis might be bootcamp-style but it's not all pain and gain – there's an on-site spa and cocktail parties for guests twice weekly. Prices start at $175 (£117) per person for a half-day programme of group tennis instruction to $2,190 (£1,460) for a five-day programme which includes private lessons and spa massages. Accommodation starts at $155 (£103) per night, room only. Flights not included; the closest airport is Tampa.
The family that plays together…
The thriving 14-court tennis centre at the Algarve's Vale Do Lobo (00 351 289 353 000; www.valedolobo.com) offers a winning combination of match play and well-taught coaching sessions for family members, including those who can barely see over the net. The club also encompasses a pro shop, bar, pool and gardens safe enough for younger ones to roam around. If the children are that bit too small to participate on court just yet, the resort's well-equipped kids' club is nearby. A host of self-catering accommodation options, sandy beaches and family-friendly restaurants make this a top pick for a tennis holiday en famille. Faro airport is an easy 20 minutes' drive away. Tennis packages cost from €64 (£54) per person per night including self-catering accommodation and 10 hours' group coaching.
Play with the pros
Learn from former stars as they host "pro week" tennis holidays. Pat Cash will be coaching at his tennis academy within Buccament Bay Resort on the Caribbean island of St Vincent (01244 525 149; buccamentbay.com) between 18 August and 1 September. BA Holidays (0844 493 0772; ba.com) offers all-inclusive packages from £2,086pp. Roy Emerson runs tennis holidays in the Alps from June to September at the Gstaad Palace Hotel (00 41 33 748 50 00; palace.ch). Courses and accommodation cost Sfr3,780 (£2,630), full-board, with Roy's 25-hour tennis course. Karol Novacek will be at Puglian resort, Borgo Egnazia (00 39 080 2255 000; borgoegnazia.com), offering lessons from €70 per hour from 8-22 September. Doubles from €350, B&B. Or try Jeremy Bates' tuition at Antigua's Carlisle Bay from 10-17 November (001 268 484 0000; campbellgrayhotels.com ). Doubles from £4,500 a week, with tennis but not flights.
Rain unlikely to stop play
Tennis at former British number one Annabel Croft's academy at the Cyprus resort of Aphrodite Hills (020 3664 7733; annabelcrofttennisholidays.com) is unlikely to involve rain, even in winter. Croft's team, headed by Welsh coach Wyn Lewis, brings an engaging friendliness to the courts and a healthy local membership from Cypriot and expatriate residents bolsters player numbers at the regular mix-ins and tournaments. Nine courts are immaculately maintained and sit beside a neat clubhouse and terraces, all with views down towards the Mediterranean. Grand Slam packages of half-day coaching for five days and six nights' half board at Aphrodite Hills cost from £900 per person, excluding flights. The nearest airports are Pathos and Larnaca.
Tennis in the morning, Uffizi in the afternoon?
Tuscan Tennis Holidays (0141 576 7205; tuscanytennis.com) organises trips to several destinations in Europe, but the standout choice for combining sport and sightseeing is its Florence base. Ten hours of lessons and two hours of matches are held at one of Italy's most exclusive clubs amid the cypress tree-dotted countryside just outside the city. The clubhouse oozes Italian chic, with facilities that include 16 courts, a gym, sauna and pool. Stay in traditional Tuscan villas and apartments or the luxurious five-star Villa La Massa Hotel, little more than a ball's toss from the club, on the banks of the Arno. Florence is only 9km away, allowing you to be off court, showered and changed ready for afternoons in the Uffizi and evenings watching the passeggiata, chianti in hand. Apartments cost from £490 per week for two sharing, with the tennis programme at £270 per week. Flights excluded.
"Make sure the tennis regime is one you can handle; three plus hours a day at a rigorous camp can take a physical toll over several days – more so if it's in a climate that imposes its own demands. If you're not up for that, look for a resort with a flexible choice of daily clinics or drill sessions where the coach:player ratio is no higher than 4:1. I also like to see sociable round robins on the weekly roster – anything, in fact, that lures players to the court and makes the tennis complex a social hub." Roger Cox, editor of TennisResortsOnline.com
Not exactly Navratilova?
Attempts to get racket to ball still rather rudimentary? The Spanish resort of La Manga (00 34 968 17 5577; lamangaclub.com) in Murcia has a gargantuan 28-court academy that attracts a critical mass of players so its well-qualified, English-speaking coaches can group participants with others of a similar standard. It's also the Lawn Tennis Association's official winter training centre for performance players. The Weekend Warrior package is an ideal taster. Off court, there's a sizeable spa, golf galore, pools and nearby beaches should you want to put your racket down for a few hours. The package costs from €289 (£245) per person for 10 hours' group coaching – focusing on forehand, backhand, serves and net play – plus match play and three nights' accommodation in a four-star Las Lomas apartment. Flights are not included; the closest airport is Murcia (San Javier).
Who said that?
"To be inspired – that's the secret." Andre Agassi
"Tennis is a perfect combination of violent action taking place in an atmosphere of total tranquillity." Billie Jean King
"You get to be in your 40s, and suddenly you're a doubles player." Jack Nicholson
On court, on the cheap
Think tennis is expensive and elitist? Devon's Manor House Hotel (01837 53053; tennishotel.co.uk) banishes that idea – this is bargain tennis-break territory. But that doesn't mean its tennis facilities are tatty. There are five pristine outdoor courts set against a glorious Dartmoor backdrop and a further four indoors in case the West Country weather does its worst. Group tuition for beginners, advanced players and juniors runs five days a week and costs £4 per hour; while individual LTA-accredited coaching costs £20 an hour. However, tennis is just a small part of the activity programme. Guests also have access to 99 holes of golf, and more sport and craft classes than you can shake a paintbrush at. The rooms are basic rather than luxurious but they start at a very reasonable £145 per person for two nights, full board, including activities.
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