Unable to travel during the pandemic, I tried to satisfy the urge to get away by dreaming of the places I've always wanted to visit. I've been luckier than most since my work has taken me to hundreds of tennis resorts and camps and all four Grand Slam Championships, but still I keep a running tennis bucket list. As a travel writer, I'm often asked what's my favorite place, and my answer is there's nothing so exciting that someplace you've never been. For me, that applies to tennis resorts and camps, too.
|Tennis With the Stars|
For decades, the Roy Emerson Tennis Weeks at the Palace Hotel in Gstaad, Switzerland occupied the No. 1 spot on my tennis bucket list. The very outline of the program inspired dreams. Where else can you spend five hours a day on historic red-clay courts—the former site of the Gstaad Open—coached by a legend who'd won 28 Grand Slam titles, 12 of them in singles? Jagged peaks and forested slopes backdrop a grand and itself historic family-run hotel perched just above the courts and a short walk (or free shuttle ride) from the town of Gstaad. The hotel kitchens prepare multicourse lunches and dinners, supplemented, if you wish, by wines from a well-stocked cellar. Every aspect of the week is enchanting, so much so that many guests leave vowing to come back the next year. I did too, this time with my partner—though the pandemic forced us to cancel twice. That trip and her delight convinced me more than ever that it had deserved its place at the top of my bucket list. Tennis Resorts Online visitors agree, having crowned it the No. 1 tennis camp in the world almost since we started publishing rankings.
This is, admittedly, a big-ticket item, one reason decades went by before I finally managed to get there. But bucket-list items, like Antarctica in my case, aren't always places you actually expect to get to see. They're aspirational. Some you'll check off, some you won't, but you can dream about all of them, which is really what a bucket list is all about.
An no sooner do you check one off than you begin to scan the list to start planning for what's next. With that in mind, here are the top five on my current list along with a brief description of what intrigues me. But I'd be curious to know—as would other Tennis Resorts Online users—what's on your list. You can contribute your ideas on Post Your Bucket List and see what's on others' by visiting The Tennis Bucket List. If you need inspiration, here are my top three:
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No. 1. Walla Walla Wine and Tennis Camps, Washington. Several times a year the tennis coaches from Whitman College and Boise State University join forces with winemakers from Tero Estates and Northstar Winery and a Whitman Professor of Geology to conduct a combination of tennis clinics, guided tours of the Walla Walla Valley terroir, private wine tastings, and wine maker dinners.
No. 2. Mouratoglou Tennis Academy, France. A lot of bold-face tennis names and aspiring juniors train at this 34-court Mediterranean academy, but it has programs—both modest and intensive—for enthusiastic adults as well. But it also has something other academies do not: a location on the Côte d'Azur.
No. 3. Tennis Fantasies Week, Texas. Staged at the John Newcombe Tennis Ranch in Texas, this long-running men's only camp draws north of 90 campers lured by the opportunity for spend the week with a dozen or so Legends, John Newcombe among them. I've been to the co-ed camp, but I know from friends who've attended that this men's event is something special: competition, camaraderie, and a healthy dose of locker-room razzing and humor. Can't believe I've still never found an opportunity to go.
But what's on your list? You can share it here by Post Your Bucket List?.
Here's what's on other players' bucket lists:Sherry's List: