Summer and holiday junior camps—as opposed to tennis-training academies—all seem to promise much the same thing: an opportunity for your 9 to 18 year old to focus on tennis, get away on his or her own, and have fun. But how can you decide which one to choose? For advice, we interviewed half a dozen experts who either run or promote junior camps: Howard Moore, director of Saddlebrook International Tennis in Florida; Weylu Chang, team leader at IMG Academy Bollettieri Tennis Program in Florida; Julian Krinsky, founder of Julian Krinsky School of Tennis in Pennsylvania; Phil Hendrie, academy director at the John Newcombe Tennis Ranch in Texas; and Charlie Hoeveler, CEO of U.S. Sports Camps. We asked each of them to outline the issues they thought were most crucial when it came to finding the best camp for your child and then compiled their answers into a list of Top 10 Tips for Choosing a Junior Tennis Camp. These will help you both narrow down the list of candidates and hone in on the best camp for your child. You can begin your search on the Internet (Tennis Resorts Online lists more than 100 overnight tennis camps all across the U.S.) and by asking friends for recommendations. But before you book, telephone the most promising camps directly and ask about the specific issues of importance to you and your child.
Just before the year-end holidays, Lynne Rolley joined California's La Quinta Resort & Club, and its sister property PGA West, as the Executive Director of Tennis. She brings some 40 years of teaching and coaching experience to the position, including tenure as the USTA's Director of Women's Tennis, where she coached Jennifer Capriati and Lindsey Davenport, among others. Most recently, she had been tennis director at the iconic Berkeley Tennis Club in Berkeley, California. She'd only been on the job a few weeks when I caught up with her by phone to ask about her plans for La Quinta.
Tennis Resorts Online (TRO): You've worked at several clubs. Have you worked at a resort before?
Lynne Rolley: No, I'd never worked at a resort. It was more important that I knew how to deal with members [La Quinta has tennis members as does PGA West] and programming and that I've been all over in the tennis community.
TRO: As director, will you be spending much time on court?
Rolley: I'll be on court probably a third to a half of my time. I'll always be there on site. I'll be there meeting people, greeting them, making sure their needs are met.
TRO: What's your biggest challenge?
Rolley: One of our challenges is the resort is so large. Our tennis facility is gorgeous and right up against the mountains, but sometimes tennis isn't getting the exposure we need if guests don't walk to the back end of the campus and see the tennis opportunities. So one of my goals is finding a way in the front of the resort to get new people to the back of the resort and introduce them to tennis.
I also want to start developing some kind of tennis camp/fitness/wellness program. We have a terrific staff, and we have everything in place for this: the beautiful resort, the good food, a newly upgraded fitness center, and a spa. Now I want to add the tennis piece—similar to the old John Gardiner's Tennis Ranch but done in our way. Our camps will be a little more on the luxury side, because that's what we're about. That's one of my dreams. Beyond that I want to have a pretty active daily program. You to be able to get up in the morning and do Cardio tennis and then get a game, take a lesson, join a group or round robin, any of those things. I always want to have a beginning tennis class on the schedule introduce them to tennis and I don't really care if it's just a few people.
TRO: As I understand it, there are some physical changes taking place at the tennis club. What are those?
Rolley: We've expanded the fitness area to include a new movement area, new bikes—it's beautiful. We're moving our tennis area across the campus. We have a house right in front of a big bank of courts where our staff can focus on programs for tennis and I can keep my eye on the courts a lot better.
The Centre Court Café is being remodeled to include a quicker food service outlet: healthy food, shakes, salads, coffee, sandwiches that you can get quickly and come down and sit closer to center court. [A sit-down restaurant remains and opens out to the pool area]. So I don't want that sunken clubhouse court to sit empty when people are eating, so we've been having Cardio tennis, yoga tennis—we have Lululemon come in and we do that [yoga tennis] at least once a month to do a combination yoga and tennis class, which is very popular.
TRO: Having that clubhouse court empty is never an issue during the BNP Paribas Open, which is coming up Mar. 7-20, is it?
Rolley: We do so much with the BNP. Our resort is already booked. We do clinics that start at 7:30 in the morning until 10 and then everyone goes to the matches. I'm going to have a look at how that goes because I think we could incorporate an afternoon program because there are those that just go at night. We typically have a lot of pros practicing and coming and going from this facility. Then in April, the Indian Wells Tennis Garden hosts the Easter Bowl so because of my past association with that event it's going to be a lot of fun to have junior players over and working out.
This new position means a lot. It's great. All of my plans are going to take some time to implement, but my goal is to be known as the No. 1 tennis resort in the country.
Adam and I are doing a stroke drill with a goal of hitting as many balls beyond the service line as possible in a two-minute session. There would be nothing particularly unusual about that except it's taking place on a PlaySight Smart Court fitted with high-definition cameras that track everything we do. If we'd played a match it could also have been used to call lines or, alternatively, to provide a means to challenge calls. But its most powerful feature is the ability to document every shot. After the session, Adam and I checked in at the courtside kiosk and could see a summary of the hitting session, showing how many of our forehands and backhands had landed in, along with the average speed, spin, and net clearance as well as far each of us had run and how many calories we'd burned.
Developed by Israeli Air Force engineers and endorsed by Novak Djokovic and Billie Jean King, PlaySight records everything that happens on court, digitally analyzing and indexing as the match progresses and storing it in the cloud. At the end, you can not only see an overall summary of your performance, as Adam and I did, but also filter for specifics. Depending on your interests, the system can show you video of every backhand you missed, your fastest serve, every winning forehand volley—pulling up your request instantly and displaying it on the courtside monitor, the PlaySight web site, or an app on your smartphone.
Crucially, PlaySight is increasingly available to recreational players. Some 300 clubs worldwide have installed the system (including the USTA National Tennis Center and Indian Wells Tennis Garden). There's a map on the PlaySight website to help you find one near you.
The Australian Open has introduced its own batch of emojis. For more about what they're planning for this year's tournament, which starts Jan. 18, visit What's New At the Australian Open?
Tennis Resorts Online values your opinion, so much so that we're giving you a chance to win one of three tennis vacations we're giving away. All you have to do is review your experience as a guest at any tennis resort or camp worldwide. Every review you file gives you one more chance at one of the following prizes:
•Cliff Drysdale Tennis at Omni Amelia Island: The former home of the WTA's Bausch & Lomb tournament, the 24-court Racquet Park amid the live oaks of this multi-dimensional barrier island resort in Northwest Florida will treat the lucky winner to two nights of lodging in an oceanfront hotel room plus two days of tennis camp (3 hours/day) for two people.
•Saddlebrook Junior Tennis: Rate any junior camp and you're eligible to win a one-week junior camp at Saddlebrook Resort in Wesley Chapel, FL. The 6-day/5-night session includes 5+ hours of daily instruction, shared lodging in a junior suite, and all meals.
•Saddlebrook Tennis: Although the tennis program is renowned as one of the planet's most intensive, the setting is pure multidimensional resort with golf, a lake-sized pool, and spa as complements to the on-court work. You could win a two-day tennis package for two, consisting of five hours of intensive tennis instruction each day (for both people) along with video analysis at this world-renowned resort in Wesley Chapel, near Tampa, Florida (lodging and meals not included).
•New England Tennis Holidays at Sugarbush: This long-running and consistently highly rated tennis camp—which now runs year-round—parlays a setting in Vermont's Green Mountains with a solid five-hour-a-day program run by experienced pros. The winner can look forward to two days of tennis camp (five hours a day) on Har-Tru courts and lunch both days, for two people (lodging is additional) Valid for 2016/2017 season.
For details visit Rate a Resort or Camp or Rate a Junior Tennis Camp and fill out a form for each resort or camp you know firsthand. The next drawing will take place on May 1, 2016 once we tabulate your reviews to determine our rankings of the Top 100 Resorts & Camps for 2016.