The shout “Classic Gilmore!” boomed across the tennis court and the player made a double fist pump.
We immediately knew two things about Josh. He’s a little on the competitive side and enjoys talking about himself in the third person.
Our head coach for the week was demonstrating our next practice session with his two assistants, Louis and Sam, and was clearly pleased with his last volley.
But I’m not competitive, I thought. I’m just here to improve my game and have a lovely time with those like-minded individuals I keep hearing so much about.
The angry competition-loving demon inside me can just chill out and drink energy drinks with gay abandon like everyone else. Unfortunately, Josh then mentioned the Mark Warner laser serve speed gun and the demon tossed aside his blue Powerade and started roaring.
Predictably, every man on court tried to look nonplussed while rotating their arms, doing one-armed press-ups, lifting heavy stuff and putting it down again.
I won’t tell you who won, it doesn’t matter (me, 89mph). What does matter is that close to 30 people had come to this Rhodes resort for one purpose: tennis.
And this was before Andy Murray top spinned away the cobwebs of Wimbledon British glory to inspire a new generation to pick up a racket and older generations to get theirs out of the loft.
Mark Warner’s Levante Beach
It may surprise you to learn that the tennis facilities at Levante Beach Resort are among the best I’ve played at and I’d happily mention them in the same breath as Aphrodite Hills, Rancho Valencia and Curtain Bluff.
The coaches balance fun with genuine learning and, like the finest waiters or skilled stalkers, are ludicrously attentive without you realising. If you’re doing something wrong, they spot it and tell you quietly later on.
The Astroturf is grade 4. Nope, it meant nothing to me either. But apparently there are five grades and four is second best. I assume the grade 5 material is off being used to make baby clothes and knock-off llama rugs as I found myself hoping for balls I could dive for just to be close to this heavenly material. A far cry from the flesh-tearing evil I remember from school.
It’s a simple set-up, with courts, ball machine and bar – but guests who grew up playing tennis will know that’s all you want from your club.
And with Mark Warner, the trimmings, especially for families, are extraordinary. The way guests talk about the childcare is almost distressing for a yet-to-be parent. Relief etched all over their faces, as they hit balls all day or learn to sail knowing that wherever their children are they are happier than mere parents could ever make them. And tired, blissfully tired, by the end of the day.
Is Levante Beach luxury in the typical sense? No. It’s lacking in black-tie occasions and Damian Hirsts on the walls. And it’s not expensive enough, which I’m sure your clients will hate. The most you’ll be able to charge them is roughly £2,756 for two adults and two children for a Superior Sea-facing Pool Suite, plus £200 for the tennis week.
But don’t underestimate the people going there. These people were Banyan Tree-staying, champagne-quaffing, dinner party-holding folk who like lovely things. But then in a moment of madness they had kids and suddenly needed something different. They needed Mark Warner.
Levante Beach Resort Intensive Tennis Weeks in 2014 start May 17 & September 20.
Where else is good for a tennis holiday?
Andy Murray’s Wimbledon victory has inspired more people to pick up a racket, with the Lawn Tennis Association reporting a big upswing in people wanting to play tennis across the country this summer.
But where should you send your clients to play? Here are our recommendations:
Gstaad Palace, Switzerland
The hotel is this year celebrating 40 years of its Roy Emerson Tennis Weeks (Emerson won 28 grand slam titles). The hotel also offers a tennis and multisport week for kids with stars Marc Rosset and Frederic Bouvier.
Rancho Valenica, San Diego, US
Top-tier professionals and 18 beautiful Plexipave tennis courts surrounded by one of the best hotels anywhere. It offers tennis packages that include daily drills, match play, breakfast, lunch, dinner, spa discounts and a tennis swag bag. ranchovalencia.com
Intercontinental Aphrodite Hills Resort Hotel, Cyprus
Home of the Annabel Croft Tennis Academy. Annabel herself is there a couple of weeks a year. Five-day courses for adults and children range from Grand Slam, with 4.5 hours’ per day coaching, to the five-day Tennis Holiday, with 2.5 hours’ coaching a day, a private lesson and two machine ball hours. classic-collection.co.uk
Half Moon, a RockResort in Montego Bay, has 13 lit courts and instruction from world-ranked junior pros. Also in Montego Bay, Round Hill Hotel & Villas holds tennis clinics run by former Davis Cup players. visitjamaica.com
Tuscan Tennis Holidays offers venues in Lucca and Florence, as well as in Trapani and Syracuse in Sicily and in Sardinia. It can also organise tailor-made tennis holidays. tuscanytennis.com
Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa
No special tennis weeks here but it gets a mention because its tennis court is on a separate island, a one-minute dhoni ride away. Tennis lessons are available.
Boasts a state-of-the-art tennis facility including a pro shop and multiple professionals in partnership with the Anguillan Tennis Academy. Offers clinics for beginners, children and adults.
Curtain Bluff, Antigua
Annabel Croft and Andrew Castle team up to host the first Perfect Match: Tennis & Well Being week from November 16-23 this year. In addition to clinics and matches with the pros, guests will enjoy tournaments and exhibition matches.
Verdura Golf & Spa Resort, Sicily
Verdura has six clay tennis courts set against a Sicilian mountain backdrop. The hotel’s Sunball Tennis Academy offers tailor-made training programmes for all levels and occasionally hosts famous
Carlisle Bay, Antigua
Former British number one Jeremy Bates will host an intensive tennis week for keen players from November 10-17. The week includes five days of morning training, followed by a competition and prize-giving award dinner, hosted by Bates, who coaches rising British star Heather Watson.
Lux Resorts, Indian Ocean
Offers its own programme of Teddy Tennis for children aged three to eight. Music helps the children grasp the concepts of rhythm and timing, while images of teddy bears in motion show them how to play. Available in Lux’s resorts in Mauritius, Ile de la Réunion and the Maldives.
La Quinta Resort, California
Boasts 23 top-notch courts of hard and clay surfaces including a tournament-style centre court. Tennis instruction is led by Tom Horman and a team of pros offering coaching for individuals or groups.
EXPERT VIEW – JAMES ROSE
Director of tennis coaching, La Manga Club, Spain
The key things in a tennis package are the quality and content of the coaching programme and the ability to cater for all levels and ages. Look at how the course is structured, and factor in the ratio of coaches to players and the number of courts when choosing where to send clients. Other important ingredients are the quality of accommodation, whether luxury or more family friendly villa/apartments. Here at La Manga we can cater for all levels and ages, from a top-20 ATP tour player to a toddler taking their first steps on a court. A relaxed but professional environment is what clients like; they are tennis lovers and are here to improve their game, but at the same time they are on holiday and want to have fun. Clients also like competitions and social matchplay to complement the coaching sessions. lamangaclub.com
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