Few sports have more aerobic health benefits than tennis. It’s a game that keeps you looking good and thinking clearly, as split-second tactical decisions whiz at you with every swing of an opponent’s racket. The action is fast-paced, and athleticism is a definite requirement. Maybe that’s why so many of us are glued to the set as the pros duel it out during a Grand Slam tournament. And if the pros’ rackets are relatively new, you may be surprised to see the taper of their grips. Back in the days of Jimmy Connors, racket grips commonly measured 4 ½ or 4 inches. Now, though, according to Tennis magazine, grips of 4 ¼ are much more popular. As reported in the magazine, the smaller grip allows players to “snap [their] wrists into ground strokes with more ferocity than Alex Rodriguez smacking a home run.”
To get a tennis-playing advantage, check in at The Phoenician (thephoenician.com), a 250-acre resort in Scottsdale, Arizona. Beyond its 1,100-square-foot suites, The Phoenician boasts 11 tennis courts with surfaces that include grass and Prestige Plexicushion. “We put you in a tennis package that includes an hour of one-on-one instruction daily, and you can use our automated ball machine that has seven settings from beginner to pro. Then we set you up to play against someone at your skill level,” says tennis director Yaz Tavatli, explaining that he has a pool of locals who can come in and compete against The Phoenician’s guests. “We offer lessons that include video analysis. You and your instructor watch the tape together in order to figure out what you need to keep working on. We also create a fitness agenda that allows you to deal with any deficiencies.” If Arizona is outside of your travel plans, no problem. Notable tennis schools/resorts are scattered across the United States and beyond. At Caneel Bay (caneelbay.com) in the Virgin Islands National Park on St. John, the tennis lessons are guaranteed (if you don’t like them, you get your money back), and the facility’s play match-up program comes with the promise that, with 24 hours notice, you’ll be paired with a suitable opponent or else be offered a 30-minute hitting session with one of the resort’s pros. John Newcombe Tennis Ranch (newktennis.com) in New Braunfels, Texas, takes things a step further: It offers a fantasy-camp component that provides guests with the opportunity to square off against former Grand Slam winners. Back on the East Coast, don’t let the name of Kiawah Island Golf Resort (kiawahresort.com) fool you. Tennis is serious here at the South Carolina resort. Former touring pro Roy Barth is a hands-on director who augments guests’ lessons with professional doubles exhibitions.
Pro tennis of a higher caliber — in fact, of the highest caliber — can be seen at any one of the four matches that comprise the game’s Grand Slam. They are the Australian Open beginning in January, the French Open beginning in May, Wimbledon beginning in June, and the U.S. Open beginning in late August. Travel specialists such as Grand Slam Tennis Tours (grandslamtennistours.com) and Steve Furgal’s International Tennis Tours, Inc. (tours4tennis.com) — both of which are United States Tennis Association Official Travel partners — can arrange for you to see any or all of these. Alternatively, you can check out Grand Slam-qualifying matches free of charge.
What a Racket
Looking style-savvy on the court might not get you to Wimbledon, but a dash of color and some street-smart accessories couldn’t hurt.
fila.com; Christian Roth Space Race sunglasses, $350, christian-roth.com; RLX Ralph Lauren airflow jersey polo, $85, Polo Ralph Lauren argyle vest, $185, and sport cap, $30, ralphlauren.com; Lacoste limited-edition aviator 101 sunglasses, $250, and Lacoste Greek Island collection sunglasses, $150, lacoste.com; Bally leather sport bag, $1,195, bally.com; Puma Cell Kosmos men’s sneakers, $140, puma.com