By Lindsay Penticuff
Playing tennis on your home courts is always convenient, but when it’s cold and yucky outside, there’s nothing more fun than escaping metro Atlanta to a warmer climate that any ALTA tennis-lover is sure to love!
Check out some of the Southeast’s top tennis resorts in destinations that offer some of the best tennis experiences for a weekend getaway with family or friends.
Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort
Miramar Beach, Florida
With 15 world-class tennis courts in hard and HydroGrid clay, Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort is ideal for your next tennis vacation. Surround yourself with lush greenery, refreshing ocean air and idyllic temperatures for a set at this Florida tennis resort. It’s a tennis-lover’s dream come true. As a premier tennis resort, it has been voted No. 1 pro shop and No. 13 in the Top 100 tennis resorts in the country, both by Tennis Resorts Online, in addition to Tennis magazine selecting it as one of the Top 50 U.S. tennis resorts and No. 3 in both the “Best Overall Children’s Programs” and “Best Junior Tennis Programs” categories. The state-of-the-art tennis center includes a beautiful clubhouse, private tennis courts, women’s and children’s tennis offerings and a convenient shop with the latest styles in tennis apparel.
Best Package Pick: Experience Sandestin’s most popular Tennis Dream Team Package, which includes group instruction, match play/round robins, accommodations, unlimited drinks and court time and prizes. Animated and knowledgeable tennis pros will combine a unique tennis experience with a memorable Florida tennis vacation. You can also take advantage of their Incentive Program, which provides complimentary tennis for the coordinator of a group of 12 or more. Bring 20 players and the tennis and room portion of your stay is free; and make sure to inquire early, as many weekends throughout the year will sell out.
Off-the-Court Offerings: Enjoy Sandestin’s nearly 8 miles of beach and bay, championship golf courses, 113-slip marina with dozens of water sports, dining options, hiking and bicycle paths, and the new Village of Baytowne Wharf, a 28-acre waterfront town center with unique shops, eateries, nightclubs and year-round events.
• sandestin.com/net, 404.620.6747
Sheraton Bay Point Resort
Panama City Beach, Florida
Mother nature sets the scene at Florida’s Sheraton Bay Point Resort where the beautiful property is surrounded by the emerald green waters of St. Andrews Bay and the Gulf of Mexico and nestled within a 1,100-acre wildlife sanctuary. Sheraton Bay Point Tennis is led by
Suzzanne Kramer, a USPTA P-1 Certified Teaching Professional with nearly 25 years of tennis experience, who provides the expertise and knowledge for all your tennis needs. The resort boasts five HydroGrid-lighted clay tennis courts, on-site pro shop and accommodations.
Best Package Pick: The Grand Slam Getaway Package provides a customized tennis experience and an opportunity to choose your own destination resort experience. Kick off the weekend with a welcome reception followed by two hours of professional instruction each day. Other package inclusions include unlimited court time, round robin with refreshments, a $50 resort credit and a tennis welcome bag.
Off-the-Court-Offerings: Enjoy Sheraton Bay Point’s 12,000-square-foot Serenity Spa, the famed Nicklaus Golf Course and Meadows Course, Bay Beach, five outlet malls and an on-site marina.
• sheratonbaypoint.com, 850.236.6000
TOPS’L Beach & Racquet Resort
Situated on 52 private acres, this award-winning resort is bordered by the beautiful beaches of the Gulf of Mexico and a nature preserve. The tranquil beach and racquet resort offers the peace of a location off the beaten path, while still having the conveniences of city attractions just minutes away. Tennis Resorts Online consistently ranks TOPS’L in the top 25, ranked No. 11 in 2016, of the world’s “Top 100 Tennis Resorts & Camps” and a “Best Value for the Dollar.” TOPS’L was also awarded “Tennis Facility Grand Champion” for Perfect in South Walton Awards in 2016, “Best Tennis Facility” for VIP Destin Magazine in 2015 and “Best Tennis Club” for Finest of the Emerald Coast in 2015. With 12 Rubico clay tennis courts, a top-notch pro shop, certified instructors and a staff with a passion for the game, it’s easy to understand why TOPS’L is a top tennis resort.
Best Package Pick: TOPS’L offers a variety of team packages throughout the year for all tennis groups. This spring, the TOPS’L Ladies Retreat will be March 8-11 and April 26-29. This is a four-night package for the first 20 ladies to register that includes six hours of instruction, daily afternoon match play, round robins, TOPS’L tennis gift and a welcome cocktail party at Club Tiki. Similar group packages with groups of eight are available throughout the year.
Off-the-Court Offerings: Without ever getting in the car, guests here can choose from beach fun or outdoor recreation exploring the area’s natural beauty. Featuring a myriad of accommodations, from beach-front luxury condominiums to tennis villas in a garden setting, this full-service resort offers on-site fine and casual dining with tennis or beach views and refreshments at the beachside and clubside tiki bars. The tennis center has certified USPTA elite professionals and programs, an exercise facility, a racquetball court, an indoor-outdoor pool and a sauna with steam room and massage therapy.
• topsltennis.com, 855.969.3166
The Racquet Club at Big Canoe
A private, gated, master-planned community, Big Canoe is designed to achieve a harmonious integration of the natural beauty of the land with those elements most desired in a resort and residential community. Just one hour north of Atlanta, The Racquet Club at Big Canoe is set against a backdrop of the beautiful north Georgia mountains. With 10 tennis courts (eight outdoor and two indoor) and four pickleball courts, Big Canoe is the perfect location for your tennis getaway. Take part in one of the many clinic offerings or let the professional staff, led by Matt Motil, USPTA, set up a custom schedule for your group or team.
Off-the-Court Offerings: Relax on the lake with boat rentals and fishing or explore Big Canoe’s 20 miles of hiking trails. The swim club and 27-hole golf club also provide afternoons of activity. With such wonderful amenities, it is no wonder Big Canoe was honored by the Greater Atlanta Home Builders Association as the 2012 Best Amenities Package for a large community.
• bigcanoepoa.org, 706.268.3367
The Cloister at Sea Island
Sea Island, Georgia
Sea Island has it all: Forbes Five-Star accommodations and dining; traditional Southern hospitality and dazzling contemporary luxury; sparkling Atlantic sand; salt marshes teeming with wildlife; and an impressive range of opportunities for recreation and relaxation, including world-class tennis facilities. The Cloister Tennis Center has eight Har-Tru courts (four lighted), including a stadium court and another eight courts at Retreat Tennis Center. Choose from a full range of clinics, lessons and round robins designed to help fine tune your game. Individualized instruction is available year-round, with programs that can be customized to your skill level.
Best Package Pick: The Classic Tennis Package includes luxury accommodations at The Cloister, a daily one-hour clinic or drill session, a one-hour private lesson with a Sea Island tennis professional (for two people, the lesson will be shared) and two hours of court time daily.
Off-the-Court Offerings: Honored with five stars by Forbes Travel Guide, the 65,000-square-foot spa and fitness center includes a garden labyrinth and atrium, shady trees, a heated indoor pool, 23 well-appointed treatment rooms and expert therapists who are skilled at customizing treatments. The menu is resplendent with results oriented therapies and relaxing treatments, including sports massage and reflexology.
• seaisland.com, 800.732.4752
Bear Lake Reserve
Cashiers, North Carolina
Along a crystal clear lake amid the Blue Ridge Mountains lies a place of unforgettable vistas and uncompromised beauty. Visitors can experience the pure joys of North Carolina lake and mountain living, with all of the comfort and amenities of a resort getaway. Access to trails, tennis, golf, water recreation, plus gourmet food prepared by an executive chef and the distinctly refined comfort of luxurious mountain lodgings combine to create a relaxing resort vacation to remember.
Best Package Pick: The three-day, two-night ALTA Team Getaway Special includes a Nestor Core 6 Fundamentals to Great Doubles session, with more than nine hours of on-court development and the Nestor Targeting System to improve your court sense and a 4:1 player-to-coach ratio on court, plus video analysis from world-class professionals. Guests also get to experience six gourmet meals at the Lake Club & Mountain Top Summit, a beautiful private mountain lodge or resort condo accommodations and sunset cruise with music, food and drinks on stunning Bear Lake. During the closing awards ceremony, get a special team gift from Daniel Nestor.
Off-the-Court Offerings: Guests have full resort access, including pools, hiking, golf, a fitness center and full clubhouse access and a free round of golf on a top-rated course. Spa and massage services are available upon request. Guests can also take a tour of the multimillion dollar sports and entertainment complex opening in 2018.
• matchpointresorts.com/bearlakereserve.com; 888.535.2790
Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Nestled along 3 miles of private beach, Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort is home to one of the top award-winning tennis facilities in the world. The resort also features three championship golf courses and endless outdoor activities like biking, kayaking, fishing and more. The Palmetto Dunes Tennis Center offers 26 clay courts, five of which are junior/POP Tennis specific, and eight pickleball courts, as well as a pro shop outfitted with the latest equipment and clothing from top brands in tennis. Ranked the No. 1 tennis resort in the Carolinas by Tennis magazine and No. 4 in the world for best tennis programming by Tennis Resorts Online, the tennis center has been consistently named among the 50 greatest U.S. tennis resorts by Tennis magazine since 1975. The Palmetto Dunes Tennis Center provides year-round instruction, with 36 adult clinics offered weekly. Enjoy daily round-robin tournaments and seasonal activities, including a free weekly tennis exhibition and demo days with the pros. Growing in popularity at Palmetto Dunes is also pickleball. You can take a pickleball clinic, book a pickleball vacation or test your skills in a round robin on one of eight dedicated courts.
Best Package Pick: The Tennis Stay & Play Package includes four days and three nights in a two-bedroom resort view villa, daily tennis and pickleball court time, two tennis clinics per person, three-day bike rentals and priority access to activities, plus resort dining and merchandise discounts.
Off-the-Court Offerings: Three championship golf courses, 3 miles of pristine beaches, nearly 5 miles of bike paths in the resort and 50 miles across the island, an 11-mile inland saltwater lagoon for kayaking, canoeing and fishing, water sports, a marina, nature cruises, dolphin cruises, waterfront dining, shopping and more.
• palmettodunes.com, 888.909.9566
The Sea Pines Resort and Smith Stearns Tennis Academy
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Situated along 5 miles of pristine beaches on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, The Sea Pines Resort is well known for its incredible amenities, world-class accommodations and countless recreational activities. The resort has established itself as a leading destination for tennis enthusiasts by providing an idyllic landscape and some of the nation’s best tennis programs for players to refine their skills. Under the director of US Open and Wimbledon champion Stan Smith, Sea Pines Racquet Club is a premier resource for recreational players and competitors alike. Smith has also partnered with renowned tennis coaches Billy and B.J. Stearns to direct Smith Stearns Tennis Academy, which offers a full-time academy program for junior players, in addition to holiday, spring break and summer camps.
Best Package Pick: For a limited time, both The Sea Pines Resort and Smith Stearns Tennis Academy are offering incredible tennis vacation and tennis camp specials for Net News readers. Learn more by visiting the links below.
Off-the-Court Offerings: In addition to the miles of pristine beaches, the resort offers more than 20 miles of nature trails and bike paths, first-class dining, a world-class beach club and three championship golf courses. Guests of the resort will find numerous opportunities to stay active and enjoy the natural beauty of the island.
• seapines.com/alta, 888.586.5407; smithstearns.com/alta, 866.340.3811
Van Der Meer Shipyard Racquet Club
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
The Van Der Meer Shipyard Racquet Club offers a 10-hour clinic every weekend that can accommodate all levels of play. Located on famous Hilton Head Island in South Carolina, it is a world-class resort destination that offers more than 200 restaurants and clubs, as well as amenities for everyone in the family. An easy drive from Atlanta, you could be on the court by 2 p.m. Friday, then enjoying a hospitality party to get the weekend off to a great start. Another three and a half hours of instruction follow in the morning, with free court time for afternoon play, or enjoy the amenities of the island: shopping, golf, beach activities, boating and more. You’ll leave the courts a smarter, stronger and more confident player. Participants can choose from a variety of accommodations to fit any budget, however, the best option is Sonesta Resort, a four-diamond oceanfront resort located next to the courts. The Sonesta has a European feel to it and is easily the finest hotel on the island.
Best Package Pick: The two-night, three-day weekend stay includes a 10-hour clinic and two-night stay at the Sonesta, based on double occupancy.
Off-the-Court Offerings: Enjoy a little time at the Arum Spa at Sonesta, where guests receive 15 percent off spa services, which include massage therapies, body treatments, natural nail care and facials. Contact the club to learn more about the offer expiration and guidelines.
• vandermeertennis.com, 800.845.6138
Volvo Car Open
Daniel Island, South Carolina
From its cobblestone streets and historic plantations, to five-star dining and shopping districts, Charleston, South Carolina, is home to a wide variety of activities and events, including the largest women-only tennis tournament in the world, the Volvo Car Open (formerly the Family Circle Cup).
Travel to this coastal oasis April 1-9 to experience the Volvo Car Open on beautiful Daniel Island. Every spring, the tournament welcomes close to 90,000 spectators and more than 70 of the best female athletes. The nine-day event is action-packed with matchups, featuring a strong 2017 player field, including former World No. 1 Venus Williams, former World No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki, Top 10 player Madison Keys, Olympic Gold medalist Monica Puig, current champion Sloane Stephens and many more of the WTA’s top-ranked players. This year, the tournament will also host the PowerShares Series April 1, featuring four tennis legends, Andy Roddick, Jim Courier, John McEnroe and Mark Philippoussis, in a highly anticipated tournament circuit stop.
Best Package Pick: Enjoy more tennis at a greater value with the Volvo Car Open Weeklong Package. You’ll have access to all nine days of the tournament, including day and night sessions and priority seating in the first three rows on the terrace level. As a package holder, you are automatically entered into the Ace Club, providing benefits like player autograph sessions, tournament poster, private bag store and more. You’ll also receive complimentary access into the brand-new Ace Lounge, a VIP lounge situated in close proximity to the stadium. The new hospitality tent will feature first-class accommodations, including air-conditioning, televisions, live entertainment, outdoor patio and elevated food and beverage options.
Off-the-Court Offerings: In between matches, the tournament offers spectators a variety of activities for all ages. From happy hours with live music to theme nights and food trucks, the Volvo Car Open’s entertainment goes beyond a great forehand.
• volvocaropen.com, 800.677.2293
White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia
When it comes to tennis destinations, there’s no place better than The Greenbrier, America’s Resort in West Virginia. With four Har-Tru outdoor courts, five indoor Deco-Turf courts, a modern pro shop and 2,500-seat stadium, Center Court at Creekside, tennis takes center stage at The Greenbrier. American tennis legend Pete Sampras is the Tennis Professional Emeritus and is part of a fantastic staff always ready to serve each guest.
Best Package Pick: For a true tennis enthusiast, the best time to visit is during one of two tennis showcases, one in June and the other in September. Past events have included appearances by Sampras, John McEnroe, Andre Agassi, Venus Williams and many other tennis greats, and packages include rooms and tickets to complete the perfect tennis getaway.
Off-the-Court Offerings: With more than 55 indoor and outdoor activities on the 11,000-acre playground, there’s something for everyone at The Greenbrier. From PGA Tour golf courses to off-road driving and even the ancient sport of falconry, there’s something new to do every day during the time away from the court. The world-class spa has drawn visitors to The Greenbrier for centuries and continues to do so today, and America’s only private casino is tucked away under the historic resort.
• greenbrier.com, 855.453.4858