It’s as predictable as most of the Brits losing in the first round: every year the nation goes tennis-mad during Wimbledon fortnight and then promptly forgets all about serves, slices and court-side strawberries and cream for another 50 weeks. But what if your interest in tennis continues after the last thud of ball against racket in next Sunday’s final? What if you are so enthused that you want to pack your racket and head off for some intensive coaching on a tennis holiday?
Until recently, short-haul options were rather limited and those in the know headed to the US – Florida alone has more rackets resorts than the whole of Europe.
However, European hoteliers are finally realising tennis fans need more places to play away from home and the last 18 months have seen the establishment of new academies at Tenerife’s Abama Resort and Aphrodite Hills in Cyprus.
The hotel industry might be turning to tennis but the same can’t be said for most tour operators and travel agents. Golf and ski brochures abound yet information on hotels with serious racket facilities is as elusive as Centre Court tickets at SW19.
So here is a list of the best places to go in the UK and the rest of Europe to make your game a little more hit than miss. Some are for serious racket buffs wanting to bash balls for hours; others have ample off-court attractions if you aren’t willing or able to play tennis all day. None are cheap per se, as coaching fees come on top of accommodation costs. But there are good-value options, as well as breaks for those who love their luxury as much as their tennis.
In the UK
Jonathan Markson, Oxford Tennis Camp
Every Summer, Markson and his coaches take over 30 of Oxford University’s grass and hard courts, some of them overlooked by the city’s famous dreaming spires. Most camp participants favour the impeccable grass courts – a rare treat, as few clubs or parks still offer this high-maintenance surface.
A hefty 30 hours of tennis is scheduled over six days, including tuition, competitive play and video analysis of your strengths and weaknesses.
The Oxford camps are highly sociable: activities range from barbecues to punting. Participants stay in student rooms – basic but convenient for the tennis courts – and all meals are provided so you should have enough fuel to get through the full-on schedule.
· £690pp per week full-board, including accommodation and coaching. 0207 603 2422, marksontennis.com.