Contents: John Newcombe Talks About Founding Newk's Ranch |
Emilio Sanchez on "Spanish Method" and His Florida Academy |
Update on Southwest Florida Resorts | Resort/Camp News | Specials/Discounts | Vacation Giveaway
Interview With Tennis Legend John Newcombe
Roger Cox, Editor
Tennis legend John Newcombe spends about six weeks a year at his John Newcombe Tennis Ranch in New Braunfels, Texas, including the quarter-century-old Legends Fantasy Week in October and a Co-Ed Fantasy Week in March. I caught up with him on the weekend immediately following the Legends (NOTE: that's a weekend he's often there) when he strolled into one afternoon. After patiently submitting to a flurry of photo ops, he stepped onto the court to personally demonstrate the basics of the lob, one of the strokes on the afternoon agenda. Afterward, I interviewed him about how he came to start the ranch in the first place and the philosophy behind it, on court and off.
Emilio Sánchez On "the Spanish Method" and His Florida Academy
The Academia Sánchez-Casal in Barcelona, Spain is justifiably famous as the training ground for such international standouts as Andy Murray, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Anna Ivanovic, Janko Tipsarevic, and others. In 2012, they bought the former Naples Bath & Tennis Club in Florida, bringing the so-called "Spanish Method" to a satellite campus run by none other than co-founder Emilio Sánchez himself. During his career on tour, he had a Top 10 ranking in singles and No. 1 in doubles, winning three Grand Slam doubles titles (two French, one U.S. Open) and later served as captain of the Spanish Davis Cup during its championship 2008 season. In Naples, he personally takes a role in the on-court instruction as he works to build this budding junior academy into one as effective as its Spanish sister. But just what is "the Spanish Method" anyway?
Resort Hopping In Southwest Florida
When it was 38° in New York City on the day I left for Florida, but if I was thrilled to be headed for a warmer climate, I was particularly enthusiastic about revisiting three exceptional beach and tennis resorts along the Gulf Coast corridor, from Naples north to Sarasota. All three had undergone changes for the better, whether in ownership, staffing, capital improvements, or some combination. I was eager to see first-hand how that had impacted the guests' experience.
Naples Grande Beach Resort, Naples. When I arrived, I was told that there was a large convention at the hotel, which meant I'd have virtually no competition at all for the pool, fitness center, restaurants, or shuttle to the beach ¾ of a mile away beyond a stand of mangroves. Ordinarily, however, that could easily have an adverse effect on tennis activities by sequestering potential players in the conference center (which is on the second floor where it doesn't impact the lobby or other public areas) during the most playable hours. I could see the courts from the balcony of my room as they extended east past a cluster of red-tile-roofed tennis villas, and when I headed there the next morning—it's perhaps a two-minute walk from the lobby—I arrived to find many of the 15 clay courts were already in use. The bulk of these were local members, it turned out, but the hotel also permits outsiders to take clinics and participate in tennis activities.
South Seas Island Resort, Captiva Island. As I crossed over the causeway from Sanibel Island onto Captiva Island, I glanced down at a dozen or so people, bent over in a posture known as the "Sanibel Stoop," as they combed through piles of shell fragments that had washed up onto the beach hoping to find an intact cat's paw or cowrie or auger shell or any of dozens of others as a souvenir. Later, as I walked along the beach at South Seas, I found myself also looking down, though since the beach had been recently refurbished, the sea had not yet had time to do much more than deposit a few pockets of shells along the high-tide mark. Give it time, the locals assured me, and the shells would be back.
The Resort at Longboat Key Club. I had wanted to be at the ribbon cutting for the Tennis Gardens when the 20-court complex opened in 2009, but the timing didn't work out and somehow it took me four years before I finally got the chance to experience it first hand. I'd seen photos of the facility, of course, knew that the USTA had given it an Outstanding Facility Award in 2009, and had read the positive responses on vacationers on my website. Still, none of that is a substitute for being there, which I finally managed to do last week. After strolling around the spacious layout, which borders Sarasota Bay, I sat down with tennis director John Woods, who's been here since 1976, over breakfast at Club 21, the cafe overlooking the center court.
SW Hall of Fame To Induct Tennis Camp Pioneer John Gardiner
The USTA Southwest section has announced plans to induct tennis camp pioneer John Gardiner into its Hall of Fame. Two of his 11 venues were in Arizona, including the John Gardiner Tennis Ranch on Camelback Mountain in Scottsdale, which he opened in 1971 and where for many years he hosted the Senator's Cup, an event that attracted prominent political, entertainment, and tennis figures and raised more than $4 million for Arizona's Hospice of the Valley. In choosing him for the Hall of Fame, the committee recognized him as "a landmark figure [whose] clubs brought great credibility to tennis in Arizona." His posthumous induction will take place Nov. 15 in Phoenix. More information, visit John Gardiner to be inducted into SW Hall of Fame
Resort and Camp News
Rosewood Little Dix Bay in the British Virgin Islands has a new Peter Burwash International pro, Leon Patchett. … In Arizona, Jonathan Davis has taken the tennis director position at the Lodge at Ventana Canyon in Tucson. … On South Carolina's Hilton Head Island, the Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa has just completed a $30 renovation and is highlighting the event with a Rejuvenation package that includes a massage, yoga class, and two hours of tennis at the nearby Port Royal Racquet Club. … The four-court Ritz-Carlton, Naples in Florida is now being managed by Peter Burwash International, which has installed Roger Browne, a former Pepperdine University and circuit player, as tennis director.
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©2012 Roger Cox