Stratton Mountain Resort
Cliff Drysdale Tennis School
Stratton Mountain, Vermont
By Roger Cox, Editor
With 16 courts—two of them indoors—this is one of the largest tennis facilities in New England and one of the most complete four-season resorts. In summer, the grassy slopes of 3,936-foot Stratton Mountain, the tallest peak in southern Vermont, funnel down to an Alpine-inspired village, whose shops, restaurants, and lodges line a single cobblestone street open only to pedestrian traffic. At the far end, that street passes beneath an archway topped by a clock tower and ends in an open plaza, site of the base lodge, the Family Fun Zone (see Children's Programs), and the gondola to the top of the mountain. The gondola passes over slopes covered with grass and carries not skiers but sightseers, mountain bikers, trail runners, and hikers. Add 27 holes of golf, horseback riding, children's programs, a lake for water sports, numerous hiking trails, and summer music festivals, and you have the most dimension-rich summer resort in all of Vermont.
Pro Shop: 802-297-4230
Stratton has a long if episodic association with tennis. The John Newcombe organization ran tennis camps there in the 1970s and '80s and during that period it was the site of a Grand Masters tournament. Later, Andre Agassi first burst into national consciousness in 1987 when as a qualifier he reached the semifinals of the former Volvo International Tennis Champ-
ionships, which was held at Stratton from 1985-89 (the event moved to New Haven when local property owners refused to allow the construction of a permanent tennis stadium), and Stratton briefly hosted the Acura U.S. Women's Hardcourts Championships. In the 1984, it further enhanced its tennis credentials by building an impressive sports center with indoor courts, two racquetball courts, a complete fitness area, massage rooms, an indoor lap pool, and a fully equipped tennis and fitness shop. And now, of course, they've brought in the Cliff Drysdale organization.
Tennis Staff. Tennis director Andrew Decker did not quite grow up on tennis courts, but came close. His family owns an indoor club in Connecticut and he began teaching there at age 15, including running the club's summer camps for juniors. Although he played No. 1 for his high school team, he dropped out of playing college tennis (at Wheaton College) in his freshman year, saying "I took competition way too seriously." But he continued to teach during breaks and summers and then pursued it full-time at clubs in and around Boston after graduating. "I love teaching more than playing," he told me.
He takes over at Stratton as the school enters a slower period, when the focus shifts to local and seasonal residents. But having worked for the Drysdale group for all or part of four summers, he expects the transition to go smoothly. "I'm already familiar with the routines up here and I know some of the locals. This fall, we're going to offer a beginner program for locals and reach out to kids in the nearby schools. My biggest passion is beginner tennis 101—that's my favorite kind of teaching, for juniors or adults. Come winter the program moves to the two indoor courts, offering cardio sessions and drills for those who don't ski. "I'm a New England boy so I'm used to indoor tennis programs," he added.
Next spring, the full roster of Drysdale camps will again be available. Essentially, there are midweek and weekend options, with the flexibility to tailor either to suit individual campers or groups. On weekdays, sessions consist of a 2½-hour morning camp focusing on live-ball drills, strategy, and tactics. Those wanting more can add afternoon lessons, match play, or group instruction. On weekends, their Getaway packages begin with a Friday event mixer, followed on Saturdays by a full day of work on groundstrokes, serves, and volleys culminating in a tournament. The weekend concludes with a Sunday morning doubles clinic. The staff also runs a summer junior tennis camp and, says Decker, there are plans to convert one of the hard courts to permanent Quickstart courts.
My last visit inadvertently coincided with a Legends weekend featuring Cliff Drysdale, so my experience may not be entirely typical of a normal camp and I left a noon of the first day. The Friday evening round-robin was a great way to get introduced to players (and, no doubt, gave staff a chance to examine levels). Saturday morning a few of us did a Cardio workout before the camp itself began. The next 2½ hours consisted of a quick introduction by Drysdale on the forehand followed by a series of drills built around groundstrokes mainly. Every 20 minutes or so the pros would change, moving to the next court, and a new drill would begin. The pros interjected tips—Drysdale, for example, counseled me to keep my elbow in tighter on my backhand—but the emphasis seemed to skew toward hitting a lot of balls. As I say, I don't know whether that's typical so I hope those of you who do attend a regular session will report back about your experience.
The camp aside, Stratton offers a mix of other weekly tennis activities, including Cardio tennis and Friday evening mixers, tailor-made group/team clinics, videoanalysis, and of course private lessons.
Junior Tennis Camps. These are available as midweek (Mon.-Fri.) or weekend day camps for 5- to 15-year-olds. The midweek camps consist of on-court work from 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. with snack and lunch breaks and culminate on Friday with a team competition and pizza party/barbecue. Weekend camps run three hours/day and comprise instruction, matches, and team games with a brief break for snacks.
Courts & Fees. The 14 outdoor courts—8 red clay and 6 hard—are laid out mostly in pairs in a grassy plot just behind and below the sports center. The former stadium court now has Quickstart lines to enhance the junior programming. None has water and few have shade. The Sports Center itself houses two newly resurfaced indoor courts as well as a snack bar. Court fees: none for those on tennis school packages; otherwise, $20/day for use of the Sports Center, including in the outdoor courts.
Golf Courses. Stratton has 27 holes of golf designed by Geoffrey Cornish, who named each nine for its features: Mountain, Lake, and Forest. There is also a well-regarded 22-acre golf school.
Fitness Center. A feature that dramatically enhances the tennis complex at Stratton is its Sports Center. It contains an indoor lap pool, whirlpool, two workout rooms—one in a windowed rooms on the main floor with 10 or so stations of Paramount and Trotter Nautilus equipment and some free weights, the other upstairs with an array of cardiovascular machines and a few Cybex stations. There is also am aerobics studio, two racquetball courts, tanning beds, and several massage rooms. The full-service pro shop sells both tennis and fitness clothing and equipment.
And ... In addition to everything else, Stratton has a skate park (with inline skate and skateboard rentals), a climbing wall, mountain-bike rentals, gondola rides to the top of 3,936-foot Stratton Mountain, fly fishing on the Battenkill River, paintball battles, and canoe and kayak rentals.
During the summer, Stratton runs a daily camp for children ages 5-12. It operates from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. from late June into early September. There are different themes, depending on the week chosen, and it includes the option of adding on golf or tennis. There is a fee, but that is waived for parents attending full-day sessions of the golf or tennis schools. There is also a day camp for children under the age of five years.
There are two lodges at Stratton—the 125-room Stratton Mountain Inn and the Liftline Lodge, both of which have outdoor swimming pools—and a broad selection of rental condominiums. Individually owned and furnished, these vary in size and quality. Among the newer and most convenient is Long Trail House, just across the access road from the village. This four-story building contains 75 very handsomely decorated studios, 1- and 2-bedroom units, all with fireplaces, full kitchens, convertible sofas, decks or patios, and its own outdoor swimming pool and whirlpools. Every floor has a washer dryer and there is a two-story-high lobby with a stone fireplace. Coffee and muffins are laid out for guests each morning and there is a concierge to book dinner reservations, ski lessons, massage appointments, or whatever other services guests need. Also attractive is Founder's Lodge, whose 1-to-3-bedroom units have underground parking, fully equipped kitchens, high-speed Internet access, and washer-dryers. The building also has a sauna and modest fitness center.
Only a few restaurants in and near the village at Stratton operate during the summer; however, there are numerous additional choices along Hwy. 30 at the base of the access road.
If you're looking for a tennis school in a resort setting, with options for families, also check out:
- Drysdale Tennis At Omni Amelia Island Plantation, Florida
- The Bridges Family Resort & Tennis Club, Vermont
- Litchfield Beach & Golf Resort, South Carolina
- Northstar Tennis, California
- Van der Meer Shipyard Racquet Club, South Carolina
- Wintergreen Resort, Virginia
Rates and Reservations
Stratton Mountain Resort
Stratton offers everything from lodge rooms and studios with Murphy beds to four-bedroom condos. The newest and most appealing units are the studios and one- and two-bedroom units in Long Trail House, which opened in 1999. The rates below include tax and service. If you book a tennis package, you'll get the shoulder-season rate even in peak season.
Stratton Mountain, VT 05155
Web Link: Stratton Mountain Resort
Book Online: Stratton Mountain Resort
Cliff Drysdale Tennis School at Stratton
Drysdale Tennis now offers a choice of packages that include instruction, lodging, and breakfast and lunch daily. Weekend packages bundle a Friday evening round robin with group clinics Sat. morning and afternoon and Sunday morning (total 7.5 hours) and a one-hour private lesson. The 2-day or 3-day midweek packages consist of 2.5 hours of group instruction each morning and two one-hour private lessons. Rates vary with the type of lodging chosen, with the option of a basic hotel room or a studio or one-bedroom condo. The sample rates below are per person, double occupancy, though single occupancy rates are also available.
Weekend: $499-$759/person, double occupancy
2-day midweek: $449-$709/person, double occupancy
3-day midweek: $589-$979/person, double occupancy
Instruction only: 1 day, $140; 2 day, $190; 3 day, $230
Stratton Mountain Resort
5 Village Lodge Rd.
Stratton Mountain, VT 05155
Web Link: Cliff Drysdale Tennis School at Stratton
Seasons. The outdoor tennis season runs from early May to mid October.
Travel Instructions. By Air: Although there is a regional airport in Rutland, Vermont, the nearest major airport is Albany, New York, 81 miles to the southwest. By Car: Stratton is 139 miles from Boston, 295 miles from New York City, and 210 miles from Montreal. The resort is four miles from Bondville, which is on Rte. 30.
General Tourist Information. Visit the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing website or contact them at 6 Baldwin Street, Drawer 33, Montpelier, VT 05633-1301; Phone 800-VERMONT (800-837-6668).