Poppy McPherson discovered how Aphrodite Hills' new tennis academy is serving up more commission for agents
The spectators were baying for my blood. “Smash it. Go on! Now, kill it! Kill it!”
And with the swift swish and smack of her truly ferocious serve, a 10-year-old girl put me to shame. “Let me tell you a secret,” says Wyn, the head coach at the new Annabel Croft Tennis Academy at Aphrodite Hills, during a one-on-one session. “Tennis is really simple. It’s about getting the ball over the net.
“Most people over-complicate it,” he told me, as we drilled the basic shots. “Next time you see someone playing, you can show them.” I was humbled but refreshed and hungry for another round.
Set up by the former British number one Annabel Croft, the new academy, which I visited for the Easter opening, will give the Cyprus resort a top-notch tennis programme and a dash of star quality. Four red clay courts and five green hard surfaces that overlook the glimmering Mediterranean cater for casual players and seasoned pros. Professional coaches teach the same drills that shaped Andy Murray.
The celebrity endorsement will help operators who sell the product, says Darren Eade, director of sales for Aphrodite Hills. “It’s a mark of assurance. It’s a bit like having a Bobby Charlton or David Beckham football school.”
Agents can earn commission by adding a package of lessons onto a holiday in the same way as car hire or golf.
Eade recommends agents make use of the range of flexible packages the academy offers to target different clients. “Women might like to play tennis in the morning and then go to the spa in the afternoon,” he says. “While the most serious players might prefer the grand-slam option that gives the maximum time on court.”
Groups of men and couples are a big market, so Eade suggests speaking to local tennis clubs to garner interest in tours. As an incentive, for the post-match wind-down there’s a patio area and bar beside the courts where players can sip a pint of Keo, the local lager, and watch a game on the outdoor TV screen.
Families can enjoy the academy too, says Croft, who was inspired by her own experiences playing tennis on holiday as a child. “It’s not just about finding the next Wimbledon champion. It has a lot to offer families,” she says.
Not only are there first-class facilities for children at the resort, but there is a lot to be said for coaches who have time for rusty adults who can hardly hit the ball over the net.
Selling the academy
Many operators offer tennis packages at Aphrodite Hills, including Prestige Holidays, Western & Oriental Travel, Sovereign Holidays and Classic Collection Holidays.
Classic Collection Holidays offers a week’s stay and a five-day Tennis Holiday Coaching Package including two-and-a-half hours’ coaching per day, plus one private lesson or two sessions with the ball machine and additional complimentary court hire, from £1,409. A week’s stay and a three-day tennis and spa package, with two-and-a-half hours’ coaching per day, daily access to the spa, two spa treatments and either a personal training or a yoga session, from £1,459.
All prices include seven nights’ B&B at the InterContinental Aphrodite Hills Resort Hotel, return flights from Gatwick and private transfers and are valid for travel in June.
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