John Newcombe Tennis Ranch
New Braunfels, Texas
By Roger Cox, Editor
They don't make tennis camps like Newk's tennis ranch anymore. It is the last of a breed, a vestige of the tennis-boom era when days of banging balls were followed by nights of hanging out with the pros and new-found tennis mates. Everybody played together all day and then gathered together again for dinner, merry-making and maybe a few beers, entertaining one another with songs, jokes, and conversation. The unwritten assumption was that anyone who loved tennis enough to spend five hours a day doing drills must be worth getting to know.
Former world No. 1 John Newcombe opened the ranch in 1968 with former Trinity University coach Clarence Mabry. Much of the teaching methodology continues to be based on the techniques Newk learned from legendary Australian Davis Cup coach Harry Hopman and on those Mabry used when he helped launch the careers of Dick Stockton, Brian Gottfried, and Chuck McKinley. As principal owner, Newk spends as much as six weeks a year at the Ranch, including two Fantasy events (see Calendar below). Historic photos and magazine covers of Newk decorate the walls of the main lodge, as do posters of Australia. His influence permeates the camp.
In the adult camps, each day begins with a chalk talk, occasionally supplemented by video, which could cover anything from the physiology of making changes to strategy and tactics. From there it's out to the courts and a choice of two approaches: one weighted more heavily toward pure instruction, the other toward advanced drills. Sessions last 2½-3 hours, and campers can choose to do morning, afternoon, or both. Either way, the day concludes with an optional doubles round robin, which in keeping with the ranch atmosphere is as much social as it is competitive.
The ranch and its 31 courts (4 indoor), four of which are clay, sprawl through the Texas Hill Country 20 miles north of San Antonio and 30 miles south of Austin. Originally a dude ranch with minimalist accommodations, it has a collection of condominiums which, though not luxurious, have oversize rooms, fireplaces, and complete kitchens. The cuisine has evolved with more pastas, salads, and fresh fruit where once there was mainly meat and potatoes. But the atmosphere remains unabashedly social.
Oct. 20-25, 2013: 26th Tennis Fantasies Week
www.tennisfantasies.net Phone: 800-874-7788
John Newcombe himself heads a cast of Legends that includes Roy Emerson, Mark Woodforde, Marty Riessen, Guillermo Vilas, Fred Stolle, Owen Davidson, Charlie Passarell, Dick Stockton, Brian Gottfried, Rich Leach, Geoff Masters, and Ross Case for this four-day camp of clinics, team matches (with pros as team coaches), exhibitions, and competition against the amateurs. The pros are constant fixtures, on court, at meals, and for cocktail parties and entertainment nightly. Curious to know more? Read E.J. Kahn III's blog about his experiences in 2012.
If you're looking for an all-day tennis camp with lots of social atmosphere, also check out:
- NIKE Amherst Tennis Camp, Massachusetts Summer only
- New England Tennis Holidays, Vermont
- Total Tennis, New York Liveliest summer and early fall
Rates and Reservations
Rates vary seasonally at Newk's, reaching lows from November through February, when they offer a lot of 2-for-1 specials. All packages include accommodations, tennis instruction, and all meals. Prices are quoted per person assume double occupancy. Single-occupancy rates are also available.
November 2012-February 2013
Weekends: $299-$345/person. 5-day: $775-$899/person
Weekends: $329-$385/person. 5-day: $820-$965/person
325 Mission Valley Rd.
New Braunfels, TX 78132
Web Link: John Newcombe Tennis Ranch
Seasons. Year-round with the lowest rates available from November through February.
Travel Instructions. By air: The nearest airports are San Antonio, roughly 30 minutes to the south, and Austin, roughly 45 minutes to the north. By Car: The ranch is on Highway 46 in New Braunfels, Texas. From San Antonio, take I-35 North to Loop 337. Exit and turn left following Loop 337 to Highway 46 West. Exit, turn left (west), and drive approximately 2 miles then turn left at the large water tower marked "Newks Resort." Follow the signs to the Main Lodge.
General Tourist Information. For general information about vacationing in Texas, visit the Texas Tourism website or contact them at 800-888-8TEX.