Everyone needs a vacation sometime, and if you’re a tennis junkie like myself, the best vacations are those which involve LOTS of tennis!
Over the past 20 years or so, I’ve gone numerous times with various teammates to the awesome John Newcombe Tennis Ranch. It’s too fun and too close – near New Braunfels (about 30 miles South of Austin) – to not go at least once a year.
The accommodations are like your home away from home. This includes either simple rooms with two double beds as well as one and two-bedroom condos, the latter having fireplaces, full kitchens, and washer-dryers. There is also a beautiful pool and hot tub, and there’s a fully equipped gym for warm-ups nor cool-downs. Then there’s the food which is to die for, and a super friendly staff which you won’t find anywhere else.
But that’s not why I go.
The real reason is because while you’re there, enjoying time away from your probably busy life, you’re also learning some mad tennis skillz from super fun tennis professionals hand-picked by John Newcombe himself!
Here’s what happened during one of my weekend camps:
Some 60 of us have turned up at Newk’s one October weekend, and after all the introductions, an hour of lively drills, and a dinner of steak, salmon, scalloped potatoes, sauteed vegetables, salad, and chocolate cake, we meet back at the bar to get our itinerary.
We’re then divided into two groups – Team Australia and Team USA – and separate for a pep talk with our respective captains and camp co-directors. Then we’re introduced to the fine art of “barracking,” which is mainly just shouting loudly to support your team, and hurling insults (nothing vulgar, of course) at our opponents. And for those of us on Team Australia, that also means a rehearsal of the classic cheer: “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oy, Oy, Oy.”
When the team meetings are over, many of us grab a drink at the bar – there’s no champie, though :-( and head outside to a pavilion and firepit for some s’mores, entertainment by the Grand Slams (an informal band comprised of several of the pros), and a chance to get to know more of our fellow tennis peeps.
The next morning we wake to a fabulous, not too heavy breakfast spread, drill our asses off for five or so hours, have some linner (lunch + dinner), and then gather around the main courts as Team Australia and Team USA. With each “team” sitting in opposite bleachers, we cheer on our respective captains and their partners as they battle it out in a Davis Cup-style pro doubles competition. They’re so good, it’s like watching the real Davis Cup matches!
The final day is low key, with plenty of time for new friends to get in a set or two before saying their goodbyes. There’s an unwritten assumption was that anyone who loved tennis enough to spend five hours a day doing drills must be worth getting to know, and on this particular weekend, I met my current tennis partner whom I’ve had for over a decade now. We’re besties for life and for that I have Newk’s to thank.
I’ve only been to Newks camps, so I have nothing else to compare it to, but I can say that those weekends are some of the most fun and special weekends I’ve ever had. Where else can you spend your days smacking balls, and your nights hanging out with the pros and newfound tennis mates at dinner, and maybe having a beverage or two while you entertain each other with songs, stories, and conversation?
And now they have Adult Fantasy Tennis Camp (no NOT that kind of fantasy, perv!) where you can actually mix, mingle and play tennis with the game’s the REAL pros! My teammates want to do that one this fall! Will we see you there?
For more info:
The John Newcombe Tennis Ranch
325 Mission Valley Road
New Braunfels, TX 78132
P (830) 625-9105
F (830) 625-2004