Green Valley Resort & Spa
Court Think Tennis
St. George, Utah
By Roger Cox, Editor
As of November of 2010 Green Valley has a new tennis program. Tennis director Dave Nostrant instituted his own program, calling it Court Think Tennis. This new camp bears many similarities to the Vic Braden Tennis College it succeeds, utilizing the same staff and adopting a similar format and approach to teaching. I haven't yet had the opportunity to experience the new program, but I hope there will soon be reviews by those who have.
That said, I don't expect much change in the teaching philosophy or methodology. The Braden method has always focused on technique based on scientific research and Nostrant and his staff are well versed in that approach. The day begins with a classroom lecture on the key technical elements in the strokes they'll be working on that morning. From there you move to the courts, where you are very quickly videotaped—or more accurately filmed with a digital camera. Playback is not on a television but a laptop computer enhanced with a software called Dartfish. It allows the pro to create a split-screen image that perfectly synchronizes your stroke—a backhand on the first morning—with the pro's. As the pro goes through frame by frame, you get to see precisely which elements of your stroke differ from the ideal. And it's that knowledge of what you yourself need to work on that you and the pro take onto the court for the group sessions.
By spending, as we did on my last visit, an hour and a half on backhands and a full two hours on serves, not only do you get an opportunity to lay the groundwork for improving while under a pro's watchful eye, but you also have reinforced three or four essential checkpoints you can use once you get home to keep yourself on track. It is one of the clearest and most carefully structured programs I've attended. The hours pass quickly despite the focus on only a few strokes—we also worked on volleys once we'd finished with backhands on day 1. It is not as physically demanding as many other camps—it's the instruction that's intensive rather than the drills, and the emphasis is on hitting properly rather than conditioning and movement. You can always add the afternoon program if you need more, though I was the only one in camp that week to take both sessions (many of the others opted to play matches, instead).
Court Think is headquartered at the Green Valley Resort & Spa in the red-rock country of southwestern Utah. You can book the Court Think program as part of a spa package or take tennis à la carte, staying either at the Coyote Inn or Las Palmas Family Condominiums at the resort or wherever you like in town. If you opt for a spa package, you'll supplement the Court Think camp with fitness classes, guided hikes, pampering treatments and nutritionally-correct, minimal-calorie, and candidly very tasty cuisine.
Green Valley has always struck me as a curious amalgam. It is essentially a residential community of houses and condominiums set amid subdivisions at the western edge of St. George. A large main building at its core contains the spa itself—that is, its treatment rooms, dining area, relaxation rooms, and fitness and workout areas—as well as the four indoor tennis courts, an indoor golf academy, and a small theater used for lectures and occasional evening entertainment. Spa guests stay in the Coyote Inn, a series of exceptionally well appointed rooms and suites in one-story adobe buildings arrayed around a pair of garden courtyards each containing a swimming pool. Residents and those staying in the condos have access to a large covered swimming pool and to a second smaller fitness center, the latter in the tennis clubhouse.
Pro Shop: 435-628-8060
The facility itself consists of 14 lighted hard courts—four of which are indoors and air conditioned.These are arrayed around two sides of the tennis clubhouse containing the pro shop, lockers, and a small fitness center (separate from the one in the spa).
Tennis Programs. The Court Think program comes in three-day modules. Campers typically spend their mornings working on technique: a combination of group instruction and Dartfish video analysis (shown courtside). During the afternoon, the focus shifts of match-play situations, providing an opportunity to put new strokes into practice (or at least trying to) and working on such doubles tactics as poaching. At the end of those five hours, the courts are available for additional play and there are occasionally club events in the evening which campers can take part in. At orientation the night before it all began, tennis director Dave Nostrant promised "You'll find out how to get to the next level," Nostrant told the assembled campers. "Breaking old habits is hard, but you really are capable of making changes in your game. And with the Dartfish computer videoanalysis, you can optionally take home a personalized CD with the training on it."
In addition, the College now offers two-day (Friday and Saturday) sessions devoted to women's doubles. These are typically scheduled for the first weekend of each month and comprise Dartfish analysis of you and your partner, drills to capitalize on your strengths and mitigate your team weaknesses, and a tournament with coaching.
But there is more to this program than the college tennis curriculum. Green Valley also has a local membership, many of them families, and the tennis staff runs weekly adult and junior clinics, drill sessions, and several drop-in social tennis events (the last on weeknights and weekends). Thus another way to integrate tennis into your spa regimen—without taking the Court Think camp—is to take advantage of those member programs or have the staff arrange games.
Courts & Fees. There are 14 lighted hard courts—4 of them indoors. Court fees: $10/day for those not enrolled in the Court Think camp.
Altitude Caveat: Although not so high as resorts in Colorado, Green Valley does sit at 3,000 feet, so you should expect the ball to come through more quickly and you should take extra precautions sunburn.
Golf. Green Valley does not have its own golf course; however, it has added an indoor golf learning center with hitting stations, indoor chipping, putting green, and private video analysis room. Its classes are available to spa guests at no additional charge and include the option of playing a local courses.
Spa & Fitness Center. Green Valley's spa menu pushes the envelope of options through the predictable aromatherapies and mud and seaweed treatments into, for me, such uncharted territory as Chinese restructuring facials, flotation repatterning, and reconnection therapy. There is also a wide variety of classes—among them excellent stretching classes early each morning as well as spinning and cardio boxing—and a full-range to weight-training stations and cardiovascular machines.
Rock Climbing. Forget climbing walls in a gym. Green Valley offers the real thing: rock climbing the walls of a 40-foot ravine in courses designed for rank beginners.
And ... Hiking trails into the sandstone country of southwestern Utah begin just a short distance from the resort, and Zion National Park is close enough for easy day trips.
Even the smallest room at the Coyote Inn (Check for Internet Rates) is a 600-square-foot junior suite with a gas-log fireplace, spacious two-sink bath with a Jacuzzi tub, an exceptionally comfortable four-poster bed, and a private patio. All have such welcome amenities as goose-down comforters, coffeemakers and whole-bean Starbucks coffee (and a grinder), CD players, and popcorn poppers.
The alternative the Coyote Inn is the one-to-three-bedroom suites, each with a kitchen, at Las Palmas Family Condominiums, a short stroll from the swimming pool and tennis courts (Check for Internet Rates).
What had been the spa dining room has been reconceived to serve other guests as well, offering breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus that focus on local produce, seasonal ingredients, and seafood flown in from as far away as Hawaii. Descriptions aside, the menus also aid the health-conscious by providing such nutrition information as calories, grams of fat, carbohydrates, and fiber for each dish. Wine and beer are also served.
Spas rarely integrate their programs with full-scale tennis camps in the way Green Valley does. However, if you want spa services and a camp experience, look at the following:
Rates and Reservations
Lodging at the Coyote Inn consists of casitas and one- and two-bedroom suites. Nightly Casita rates quoted below are for room only. One-to-four-bedroom condominiums are also available.The tennis camp options are mornings only, afternoons only, or morning and afternoon.
Jan. 1-Dec. 31, 2014
Condos: $76-$310/night. Casitas: $109-$399/night
Tennis Program, instruction only
1871 West Canyon View Dr.
St. George, UT 84770
Seasons. Year-round, though best during spring and fall.
Travel Instructions. There is a regional airport in St. George; otherwise the nearest major airport is Las Vegas, 2 hours to the south.