Todd Martin Named CEO-Designate of Hall of Fame

Todd Martin, CEO-designate of International Tennis Hall of Fame

Todd Martin

Former ATP world No. 4 Todd Martin has been named the CEO-designate of the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum in Newport, RI. He assumes that role on April 1, and for the next several months will work with current CEO, Mark L. Stenning, who will be stepping down in September after 35 years with the organization. A highly respected member of the tennis community, Martin is a past president of the ATP Players Council and former member of the USTA Board of Directors. In the press release, Martin commented on his new position:

“I’m tremendously excited to join the International Tennis Hall of Fame, to lead the organization’s staff, and to execute its mission. It is an honor to be charged with preserving the rich history of our sport and to celebrate the people who have created its greatest moments. I look forward to working with the International Tennis Hall of Fame Board of Directors and staff, and many tennis industry partners.”

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Andy Murray’s Luxury Hotel Cromlix Opens April 1

Andy Murray's Cromlix Hotel, Scotland

Visitors to Kinbuck, Scotland can now stay at Andy Murray’s house—or at least at Cromlix House, the Victorian mansion he purchased last year not far from where he grew up in Dunblane. Set on 34 acres of secluded woodlands and gardens, the handsome stone structure houses 10 rooms, 5 suites, a chapel, reception halld, two drawing rooms, a conservatory, library, meeting rooms, and Chez Rous restaurant. On the grounds there is a tennis court and practice wall and a lake—make that loch—for fishing. Renovations are currently underway, with boookings being accepted beginning April 1.

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New Tennis Director at Drysdale School at Stratton

Robert Menzies, tennis director at Cliff Drysdale Tennis School at Stratton Mountain Resort in Vermont

Robert Menzies

Robert Menzies took over as tennis director of the Cliff Drysdale Tennis School at Stratton Mountain, VT late in 2013 after spending part of the summer there familiarizing himself with the program. Prior to this posting, he’d been the head pro at the Drysdale School at the Omni Amelia Island Plantation in Florida. A native New Zealander, he grew up playing tournaments, even qualifying for a national ranking, before committing himself to academics. He studied Sport and Recreation at the Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand, with a particular emphasis on coaching, nutrition, and sports psychology. He’ll run diverse programs for locals and skiers on two indoor courts over the winter, then resume the full tennis school curriculum once the red-clay outdoor courts become playable again in late spring. For more information about Stratton and the Drysdale school, visit Drysdale Tennis at Stratton.

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Win a Tennis Vacation

Win a tennis vacatioin

Tennis Vacation Prize Giveaway

Want to win a tennis vacation? You have a opportunity to win one of the three tennis holidays Tennis Resorts Online is giving away in its annual sweepstakes. For a chance to win, all you need to do is review any resort or camp you know first hand. Every review you file gives you another chance of winning. To participate, use our rating form. The prizes are: a two-day tennis holiday at Saddlebrook International Tennis in Florida,  TOPS’L Beach & Racquet Resort in the Florida Panhandle, or New England Tennis Holidays at Sugarbush in Vermont. You’ll find more details on that rating page.

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Roy Emerson Tennis Weeks, the Sequel 2013

E.J. Kahn III

E.J. Kahn III

E.J. “Terry” Kahn III has returned to Gstaad, Switzerland with his wife Lesley Silvester for a second helping of Roy Emerson’s fabled Tennis Weeks. Last year, he and his wife Lesley Silvester stayed in a chalet with friends, but for 2013 they’ve booked into the Gstaad Palace for the complete camp experience. If you’ve read last year’s report or his journal of his days at Legends week at the John Newcombe Tennis Ranch, you know to expect a lively and thoroughly engaging chronicle of each day’s happenings, the people he meets, and his struggles with one or another of his opponents—and, possibly, one or another of his strokes—all told with a sharp eye for detail and self-effacing sense of humor. This year’s tale begins with his arrival at the Gstaad Palace. Another Week With Emmo: Gstaad 2013

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Tennis At Mar-a-Lago: Living The Trump Dream

The news, reported last spring in the Palm Beach Daily News (among, presumably, other media outlets) was surprising, even a bit shocking. Mar-a-Lago—Donald Trump’s private club and vacation home—had been selected “unanimously” by an organization named Professional Tennis Registry as “the private facility of the year.” The report cited tennis director Rob Goetz, his visiting pros John Lloyd and Vince Spadea, and the quality of the courts, the setting and the tennis program.

Mar-a-Lago, Palm Beach, Florida

Mar-a-Lago: the main house, on arrival

It seemed worth a visit, and—in mid-January—my wife and I made our way there.

If you don’t already know where Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago is, you might not see it as you drive south on on South Ocean Boulevard, the Atlantic on your left and, on the right, massive hedges and shrubberies that curtain some of America’s most valuable residences from the public eye.

There’s no flashing neon, like you might see at a Trump casino, or ten-foot high gold leaf, typical of a Trump skyscraper, just a kind of faut-Byzantine arch between two of the tallest hedges in the neighborhood. Through it, and you’re on the 20-plus acre estate of the late Marjorie Merriweather Post, the childhood home of actress/socialite Dina Merrill and—since 1985—The Donald’s South Florida retreat and private club for his friends and neighbors looking for a little pampered beach time, a fancy meal, a venue for a family wedding or charity event and, yes, a set or two of tennis.

Photo of Donald Trump serving a tennis ball

In the pro shop: evidence The Donald had a weapon.

Back in the day, Trump was apparently a pretty fair competitor. In the well-appointed pro shop, a framed color photo shows him unloading what appears to be a more-than-decent serve. There’s a big trophy, too, with his name on it, though no particular indication of the level of competition it rewarded. Now, however, he’s much more focused on golf (he owns two major courses and clubs within 20 minutes of Mar-a-Lago, and shuttles between them in a Trump-sized helicopter with his name emblazoned on its side in Trump-sized letters).

Mar-a-Lago tennis clubhouse and courts.

Mar-a-Lago tennis clubhouse and courts.

Trump’s lack of court time hasn’t, however, affected his ability to create a pretty nice, perhaps even special, tennis experience. After driving through the virtually unmarked entrance, you arrive at the main house, where burly valets look you over. If you’re not a member, it’s assumed you have a guest pass waiting inside. We did, because the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club in Jupiter had, a few weeks earlier, been taken over by Trump (see my previous post). The Ritz had been running the Club in connection with its fractional-ownership (the Ritz version of time-share) property that surrounds the golf course and clubhouse. And, as fractional owners, we had also obtained five-week-per-year memberships at the golf club. We continued those memberships with Trump and, unexpectedly, discovered we now had reciprocity at Mar-a-Lago, for $50 per day (for our group, not per person). After a call and a credit card number, we were more than welcome.

Not in the Mar-a-Lago main house dining room, however. A sportscoat-for-men dress code meant I could look, but not enter, wearing my tennis togs. Which was fine, since there was also a beach club with a poolside grill, private beach, and tunnel access under Ocean Drive. We’d play, we’d eat, we’d swim … life would hopefully be sweet.

Red-clay courts at Mar-a-Lago

Perfect courts, ready and empty

The Club’s five red-clay courts are nestled into a far corner of the property, bordered by a narrow parking lot, the Intercoastal Waterway, and an expanse of lawn that served as a pitch-and-putt mini-course for desperate golfers, a grass tennis court (when the staff painted some lines), and additional parking for events. We were the only players stepping onto a court at noon, but several groups had just been finishing when we arrived, and tennis director Goetz was available to chat.

But first we played for an hour and, yes, the courts were absolutely beautiful—playing like velvet with just the right amount of loose topping, and what I imagined to be a state-of-the-art irrigation system below ground. Windscreens sheltered us from the breezes coming off the Intracoastal, and on the changeovers, we could sip from bottles of Trump’s own branded spring water. Amazingly, Rob Goetz said the court fees were $15 an hour, perhaps Palm Beach’s bargain of the century. Yet we were by ourselves.

Rob Goetz, tennis director at Mar-a-Lago

Mar-a-Lago tennis director Rob Goetz, on the tennis patio next to the Intracoastal Waterway.

“On Saturdays and Sundays, it can get quite busy” Goetz explained, “especially in the mornings, when we put out a continental breakfast for our players. Our events and club tournaments bring a lot of activity too. But Mr. Trump is playing more golf now, so we don’t see him on the court much.”

Goetz, 47, grew up in Delaware and played at the University of Georgia—he modestly noted he was at the bottom of the team ladder, more of a practice partner for his teammates—and after graduation went into tennis program management. He was recruited out of Ocean Pines Country Club in 2008 by a Mar-a-Lago member, and been with the Trump operation—which closes from June to September—ever since.

Tunnel to the beach club at Mar-a-Lago

Tunneling out to the beach club

He then showed us the way to the Beach Club, through a discreet tunnel hidden from view by plantings about 100 yards from the tennis courts, then up a short flight of steps to a broad patio with a large pool flanked by a pair of attractive buildings housing the grill, changing rooms and overnight guest rooms. If there was ever a better argument for the Registry’s award, it might be to have a private beach just on the other side of the patio fence. Which the Club does.

A perfect burger, a couple of glasses of wine, a quick swim, and it was time to go. But we’ll be back.

Mar-a-Lago Beach Club and the Atlantic

Beach Club and the Atlantic

Although, as the Club’s Managing Director warned us, probably not on a Saturday or Sunday.

“We have only so many chairs around the pool,” he told us somewhat apologetically, as we sipped our rose. “We must be sure to have enough for our members over the weekends. So we would probably not have a guest pass for you then.”

In other words, book your two tickets to Paradise outside prime time.

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A Changing of the Pros In Jupiter, Florida

Donald Trump’s takeover of the exclusive Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and Spa, now known as Trump National Golf Club, Jupiter, will lead to an improved tennis facility, promises Trump Jupiter Director of Spa and Recreation Kimberly Van Keuven. “Donald Trump understands how important tennis is to this Club,” she told www.tennisresortsonline.com in January.

David Nowak, tennis director at Trump National Golf Club

David Nowak

Immediate efforts will include the resurfacing of the Club’s two Har-Tru courts, new windscreens and a new head pro. David Nowak, a Boca Raton resident and former head pro at the Delray Beach Tennis Center and director of tennis at The Club at Admiral’s Cove in Jupiter, replaces Dick Stockton, who had been at the Ritz for about four years. Stockton, a world-class touring pro through the Seventies and into the Eighties whose ranking had reached as high as 7 during his career, is developing several Tennis Legends-related projects from his home and office in Wellington, Florida.

The Trump Organization’s plans for Jupiter include extensive renovation of the golf course (designed by neighbor Jack Nicklaus), expansion of the clubhouse to include a new grand ballroom, renovation and updating of both the spa and pool areas, and a new chef and menus. Ritz-Carlton will continue to manage and market the residences on the property, under its Ritz-Carlton Destination Club banner.

Longer-term plans may include additional courts, said Van Keuven, and Mar-A-Lago tennis director Rob Goetz—who oversees all tennis activities at Trump’s Palm Beach club—is consulting with the Jupiter staff on the upgrades. Mar-A-Lago was named the private club tennis facility of the year by the Professional Tennis Registry.

“I’m really happy to be here in Jupiter,” said Nowak, who also worked at the West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills and at South Carolina’s Wachesaw Plantation, “and look forward to meeting and playing with our members and their guests.”

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Welcome to TRO’s Blog Space

About Tennis Resorts Online

Tennis Resorts Online was founded in 1999 to provide tennis vacationers with in-depth information about the tennis resort and camp landscape worldwide. It combines descriptions of close to 1,000 tennis resorts and adult and junior camps and encourages those who’ve been to any of them on vacation to provide their feedback as well. Its Search form provides a means to hone in on the resorts and camps that best meet your needs. There is also a Calendar of tennis events, a compendium of Special Packages unavailable anywhere else, and our annual ranking of the Top 100 Tennis Resorts & Camps based on reviews submitted by tennis players themselves.

About Roger Cox

Tennis Resorts Online’s founder and editor-in-chief ROGER COX has spent more than 30 years writing about tennis travel. That long stint included a 17-year stretch for Tennis magazine. Over the years, he has visited more than 350 tennis resorts on five continents and personally participated in over 50 tennis camps—several of them more than once. His informed perspective on the entire tennis resort and tennis camp landscape underpins this website.

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