Schools, resorts and tours
Just about every "sunbelt" resort in the world has tennis courts, and every avid tennis player can find a place to play tennis on vacation. Where we attempt to assist you is in naming, and describing, the locations for "total tennis," "tennis immersion," "single-minded tennis," the places where the vacationer lives, eats, and breathes tennis. And these fall into three categories: (a) the tennis "camps" and "clinics" whose sole, exclusive purpose is to provide instruction in tennis; (b) the "tennis resorts" supplying serious, tennis instruction by multiple tennis professionals, but on the grounds of a larger establishment with broader forms of recreation; and (c) the "tennis tours" that take you to attend famous professional matches in tennis, but also provide an opportunity for you to play on the courts of those world-renowned venues.
These specialist camps, resorts and tours don't come cheap. Tennis hasn't yet become a mass-market sport (though some half-heartedly claim it is approaching that state) and most tennis players need to be of upper-middle-class status before they have means to practice the sport intensively.
Tennis "campa" and "clinics"
Although the Vic Braden Tennis College is on the grounds of the Green Valley Spa, and guests can participate in the various exercise routines of that Spa, the primary purpose of a vacation here is tennis, tennis, tennis. Operating for over 15 years, the Vic Braden Tennis College combines--in its words--the science of "stroke production" with a philosophy that stresses the fun of the game in a relaxed learning environment. Its motto is "50% of all tennis players lose. Here you learn to win." The College is nestled in the canyon lands of southern Utah, at the Spa we've mentioned, and the tennis/spa "package" includes hiking in the surrounding state and national parks from one to four hours in the morning, followed by tennis instruction throughout the afternoon. You'll eat a low fat, low sugar diet, and receive a full range of massage, body and skin treatments; but tennis predominates. A five-day Tennis/Spa stay is $2,025 per person during the low season (July and December), $2,430 the rest of the year, inclusive of lodgings, meals, tuition, daily spa treatments and all else. For those who wish to forego the spa, a tennis only package is available for $105 per day, for three to five days. This package is what it says, "tennis only" and includes no meals or lodging. Teacher/student ratio is one to five.
Ramey Tennis School
270/771-5590, 812/649-2668, rameycamps.com/
If time on the court is your barometer for a good tennis vacation, Ramey Tennis School is the clear winner. Participants spend a full eight-hours per day in clinics, doing drills, working with the ball machine or in competitive match play. Priding itself on being among the least glamorous of the tennis clinics, the school promises: "bone-grinding drills and lots of blood sweat and tears. Ramey Tennis School is no vacation." A small program, the center can accept no more than 14 guests at a time, ensuring a guest to instructor ratio of 4:1. Participants stay either at a B&B on property or down the road (a five-minute drive) at the Holiday Inn Express. Rates for a two-day, three-night program including housing, breakfasts and lunches and all instruction are $360 per person double occupancy, $420 single. Longer programs are slightly less expensive.
Evert Tennis Academy
10334 Diego Drive South
Boca Raton, FL 33428
A serious training facility that offers instruction to players of all levels, year round; Chris Evert is the founder. Essentially, the Center runs a full-time year-round boarding academy for young tennis hopefuls, as well as a variety of packages, non-boarding, for adults. Pros who teach all have IPG experience, and the student/teacher ratio is 4:1. A five-day package for a single adult low season (summer) is $350 for the camp, accommodations are extra.
Bollettieri Tennis Academy at IMG Academies
5500 34th Street West
Bradenton, FL 34210
941/755-2600, 800/872-6425, imgacademies.com/
Perhaps the most "hard-core" tennis facility of them all, a place for people who are very serious indeed about their tennis. For 40 years Nick Bollettieri has been helping people play better tennis. His facility here has 79 championship courts, a high-tech 30,000 square foot artificial turf dome, a Sports Therapy and Performance Institute, and even additional sports facilities supporting adult programs year round on a weekly and mini-week basis. There are on-site Jacuzzis, pools, Nautilus machines and aerobic training. The programs range from basic sports instruction (mini-week for $485); to whirlwind tennis immersions which combine video analysis, daily private lessons, therapeutic massages, healthy meals, daily strength, speed and agility sessions and five and a half hour drills with performance analyses by the sports psych department, (full week for $935). Participants find their own accommodations in the Bradenton area. Alumni of Nick Bollettieri include Monica Seles, Andre Agassi and Anna Kournikova.