Although the timing can vary from year to year, autumn's chromatic pageant typically begins in Canada in mid-September and sweeps south, transmuting green hills into an Impressionist's canvas of brilliant colors. Aspens shower the ground with gold leaves, sugar maples don cloaks in reds and oranges, oaks become bronze or reddish brown, the golden leaves of quaking aspens flutter in every breeze, and the silver-gray trunks of poplars sport leaves of orange or russet. The dates of changing color vary with location and the whims of Nature, but check out this interactive foliage map for a rough estimate.
Autumn's splendor coincides with some of the year's finest tennis weather. Packing a racquet on a fall foliage tour can be every bit as important as packing a camera or your smartphone. Here's a selection of (by no means complete) options, across North America, grouped by state or province, with some of the most dramatic autumn vistas.
- Tremblant, Mont-Tremblant, Quebec. With their abundant maples, the Laurentians put on a fabulous show and beg you to head out on foot, by bike, or in a car to take in the colorful mountain vistas. Organized activities at the lakeside tennis club, which has 13 Har-Tru courts, continue until mid October, including round robins, group clinics, and private lessons.
- Waterville Valley Resort, Waterville Valley. Waterville Valley's red-clay courts, accustomed to being the center of attention in summer, have serious competition for eyeballs come fall, a season spiked with a vintage car rally, a chili and brews challenge, live music, and a culminating foliage festival (Oct. 12). Nearby and worth the trip is the Kancamagus Scenic Byway, the 34-mile wonderland of color between Lincoln and Conway.
- Omni Mount Washington Resort, Bretton Woods. Although the pro will have headed south by the time the leaves turn, the four red-clay courts remain available for play, and you can take in the view of Mount Washington in full fall regalia from a chair on the back porch.
- The Bridges Vermont Resort & Tennis Club, Warren. Come fall, the activity on the outdoor courts winds down, but there's nothing to keep you from playing on the dozen red-clay and Har-Tru courts—two of them indoors—or taking lessons from the staff who remain year-round.
- New England Tennis Holidays at Sugarbush, Warren. The well-run 5-hour-a-day camps wind down by the end of September, but play and private lessons continue on the two indoor hard courts and, weather permitting, four outdoor clay courts. And foliage and tennis aside, autumn brings a craft beer golf tournament (Sept. 28), Oktoberfest (Oct. 13), and a tiny house festival (Oct. 27).
- Woodstock Inn & Resort, Woodstock. Dubbed "the quintessential New England village," Woodstock becomes, if that's possible, even more charming once the leaves turn. Hike through 550-acre Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park to immerse yourself in color. Stay at the Inn with its fireplaces and take advantage of the upscale sports club with its indoor and outdoor hard and clay courts, where tennis is an option year-round.
- Cliff Drysdale Tennis at Stratton Mountain Resort, Stratton. The Cliff Drysdale clinics continue well into October before shifting to a mix of weekly Cardio and drill clinics and private lessons on the two indoor courts through the winter. Stratton, meanwhile, hosts an antiques show Oct. 5-6 and a Columbus Weekend festival (Oct. 11-14) comprised of live music, hay rides, scenic lift rides, mountaintop yoga, and a brewfest.
- Topnotch Resort, Stowe. Craft beers, fishing, biking, hiking, all contribute to making Stowe, already a classic New England village, an exceptional fall destination. Head west to Mount Mansfield, the highest point in Vermont, on a route through a palette of reds, oranges, and yellows. Topnotch remains the go-to lodge, thanks to its long history of tennis. In September, the activity shifts to mini-academies and Cardio tennis and private lessons on the six Har-Tru courts outdoors, weather permitting, or on the four indoor if not.
Enjoy your 4th Night Free at the new Four Seasons Resort Nevis! Unveiling a fresh take on a timeless Caribbean experience, our enhanced Resort includes completely redesigned guest rooms, an updated Great House and two brand new restaurants. Of course, tennis lovers can still play at the Caribbean's No. 1 tennis centre with your choice of four red-clay, four hard and two AstroTurf courts, managed by world-renowned Peter Burwash International. For reservations, please call 869-469-6238 or visit fourseasons.com/nevis
- International Tennis Hall of Fame, Newport. Arrive before Sept. 29 if you want to play on the grass, and although you will be early for peak foliage, rent a bike and head out Bellevue Avenue and then Ocean Drive, a waterfront route probably only just starting to blaze with yellows, but appealing for its historic mansions and views of Rhode Island Sound and finally Newport Harbor.
- Total Tennis, Saugerties. Backdropped by trees and forested hills, Total Tennis immerses you in fall colors, and whereas many programs wind down after Labor Day, this intimate resort continues to offer 2- and 3-day midweek and weekend camps throughout September and October.
- Mohonk Mountain House, Mohonk. Set in the Shawangunk Mountains, this castle-like hotel on a lake is never more stunning than when the leaves turn. The short hike to Sky Top above the lake opens up a 360-degree vista over forests and rolling hills. Although the tennis pro departs after Labor Day, the six red-clay and Har-Tru courts remain available for play, though you're more likely to plan your day around the 85 miles of hiking trails accessible from the resort.
- The Grove Park Inn, Asheville. Fall foliage season in the mountains of North Carolina begins in late September above 6,000 feet, reaching a peak in places like Great Smoky Mountains National Park around mid October. Asheville doesn't peak until two weeks later, and by the end of October you want to take the color in by driving the Blue Ridge Parkway. Tennis is easy to fit in at any time, since half of the historic Grove Park Inn's six hard courts are indoors.
- Boar's Head Resort, Charlottesville. Virginia owes its diverse autumn color palette to the usual (red) maples and oaks abetted by hickory, ash, dogwood, and poplar. Around Charlottesville you'd ordinarily expect peak color around mid October (it was late last year), earlier up on the Blue Ridge Parkway and in the Shenandoah Valley. Boar's Head has your tennis covered with 14 hard and clay outdoors, 12 hard indoors.
- Wintergreen Resort, Wintergreen. With 11,000 acres covered in trees and 30 miles of hiking trails, Wintergreen becomes a canvas of color beginning in early October, and with the resort (and tennis courts--three of them covered) at the top of the mountain, the vistas are magnificent.
- The Greenbrier, White Sulphur Springs. Located at 2,500 feet up in the Blue Ridge Mountains, this hotel on the National Register of Historic Sites gets its first hint of color in mid September followed by an explosion of reds, oranges, yellows as it enters October. Five of its 11 courts are indoors, and there is tennis staff on hand year-round.
- The American Club Resort, Kohler. Peak foliage hits late September to mid October. The resort hosts its annual Kohler Food & Wine Festival Oct. 17-20, and with six indoor and six outdoor courts, tennis continues year-round.
- Grand Traverse Resort and Spa, Traverse City. Color changes in the mountains begin in mid September, but not until October does the shoreline begin to peak. Nowhere is the scenery more dramatic that in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. There, steep hillsides and leafy hardwood forests turn all shades of scarlet, orange, and gold, all the more dramatic for being set against the blue of Lake Michigan. The trees change around the resort as well, where tennis continues on nine courts, five of them indoors.
- The Homestead Resort, Glen Arbor. Closer, still, to Sleeping Bear Dunes and notable for having its five clay courts situated right alongside Lake Michigan.
- The Snowmass Club, Snowmass. Color is everywhere, especially on the ski slopes of Snowmass that backdrop the courts, though if you're there in fall you should also visit Maroon Bells and if you're up to it drive the hair-raisingly narrow road to 12,000-foot Independence Pass. Two indoor courts for backup; year-round staff.
- Vail Racquet Club Mountain Resort, Vail. A mountain covered with evergreens and quaking aspens rises right behind the courts at the quiet east end of Vail Valley, and fortunately tennis staffing continues into mid October, so you can have your foliage and tennis, too.
- The Broadmoor, Colorado Springs. Cheyenne Mountain, part of the Front Range of the Colorado Rockies, backdrops this historic resort, so there is no shortage of color come fall, though for even more splendor you may want drive to the top of 14,000-foot Pike's Peak. About the same time as the leaves change a bubble goes up over the two clay courts, which keeps senior tennis staff on hand throughout the winter.
- Garden of the Gods Collection, Colorado Springs. The view from your room takes in red rocks, russet scrub oak, and golden quaking aspens, beginning in the Garden of the Gods below the mesa and continuing up the slopes of Pike's Peak. Four indoor tennis courts and year-round staff complete the picture.
- Taos Tennis at Quail Ridge Taos, Taos. Fall arrives in Taos in a blaze of yellow aspens and cottonwoods, the latter also skewing orange. To take it all in, drive the Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway, an 83-mile loop high into the Sangre de Christo Mountains to the east. Tennis continues outdoors as long as conditions permit (and they generally do well into fall and even beyond).
- Sun Valley, Ketchum. Catch OktoberFest, Sept. 20-21, the Trailing of the Sheep Festival, Oct. 9, or the Sun Valley Jazz and Music Festival, Oct. 16, and fill in the time between at the Sun Valley Tennis Center.
- Northstar California, Truckee. Although Northstar Tennis programs wind down after Labor Day, the pro shop remains manned on a limited basis into fall (best to call first). On the other hand, the water in Lake Tahoe is warmer in September and October, two ideal months for hiking, as the aspens and cottonwoods put on their fall show.
Dennis Van der Meer, 1933-2019
Legendary tennis teacher Dennis Van der Meer passed away on July 27 following a lingering illness. I first met Dennis Van der Meer in the mid 1980s at a camp at the Van Der Meer Tennis Center on South Carolina's Hilton Head Island and came away impressed by his upbeat teaching—sometimes punctuated by silly jokes—and his phenomenal memory. There were nearly 60 of us in camp—attendance was huge in that era—yet he not only knew each of our names but also demonstrated our strokes and what we were trying to do to make them better. He could do that because he found time, even in very large camps, to work with every single player. The large groups notwithstanding, he could make you feel there was nothing more important to him than fixing your wonky, physics-defying serve. And if a clinic bore his name, you could count on his being there, running drills, blowing the whistle he wore on a lanyard around his neck to signal a change of courts, all the while laughing and joking and clowning around.
A South African immigrant from a missionary family, he went on to coach Billie Jean King, Margaret Court, and Amanda Coetzer. Along the way he devised a systematic approach to tennis teaching intended to keep things simple, and he spread his gospel via the U.S. Professional Tennis Registry, an organization he founded to certify tennis teachers and coaches. His commitment to tennis excellence garnered him multiple awards, including induction into the Tennis Industry Hall of Fame. But his real legacy lies in the thousands of players he personally coached and the millions who benefited from his methods. He was, above all else, a kind, always enthusiastic coach who cared deeply about tennis and tennis players—and my wonky serve. Tennis lost one of the greats.
Noah Rubin's Behind the Racquet
Noah Rubin won the junior Wimbledon title in 2014, taking his place among the ranks of promising Americans. But his ranking stalled out at No. 125, and he found himself struggling with injuries and trying to scratch out a living playing Futures and Challengers, a decidedly less glamorous life than what had once seemed on the horizon. Although he is quick to cite the "extraordinary opportunities tennis has given me," he also says that, at age 23, he has had to face "the likelihood of losing every week" and that for all his hard work and past success "tennis didn't owe anything to anyone." He knew that and so, he realized, did those fighting for success in the trenches around him. To give them a forum to tell their stories, Rubin started "Behind the Racquet," on Instagram, photographing each behind his or her racquet and then providing a platform for first-person tales of what life is really like for these talented players who for whatever reason have not made it to the Big Show. Some are familiar names, many are not. But the key is that they open up to Rubin, recognizing him as one of their own, and the stories they tell run the gamut from heart-wrenching to inspirational.
Tennis Resort/Camp News
Ponte Vedra Inn & Club has a new tennis director, Tomas Gonzalez, who replaces the retiring Mike Leach. Originally from Chile, where he ranked as high as No. 3 as a junior, Gonzalez went on to play for Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, becoming the assistant men's and women's coach after graduating. He came to Ponte Vedra after stints at Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg, VA, the Philadelphia Country Club, and the Country Club of Virginia. He inherits an active roster of daily and weekly activities, for guests and members. … Ripley Amell has been named the new General Manager and Director of Tennis at Yonahlossee Resort and Club in Boone, North Carolina. His long career in tennis and hospitality began at the Gray Rocks Inn in Quebec's Laurentian Mountains—working for both its ski and its tennis schools—and from there he went on to run several other resorts and junior camps, among them Matchpoint Jr. Tennis in Canada and Maine Golf & Tennis Camp. He also ran adult camps at Vermont's Essex Resort & Spa and the Pocono Mountains Skytop Lodge in Pennsylvania. At Yonahlossee, he says he is "working hard to achieve even higher levels of tennis service and hospitality, delivering our member/guests the kind of club/resort experience that only Yonahlossee can offer and building an enduring love for our club.". … The Four Seasons Resort Nevis in the West Indies is completing a two-year enhancement project that upgraded the rooms and suites, changed the look of the Great House lobby, and added two new food and beverage outlets: EsQuilina and crowned monkey Rum Bar. When it reopens in October, there will also be a new farm-to-table restaurant, On the Dune, to replace the former Cabana, a raised infinity-edge pool with new lounges and luxury cabanas, and improvement to the bars Mango and Kastaway Beach Bar. … The Jumeirah Beach Hotel has been fully renovated in 2018/19. There is also a new fitness center, "The J Club," and tennis moved to a new location, where there are now six new floodlit hard courts that will go into service in September.
Packages and Specials
Adult Tennis Camps
- Saddlebrook (Hopman) Tennis, Florida: Free Upgrade to 1-bedroom suite + Amenity Basket
- John Newcombe Tennis Ranch, Texas: Save $100 on any all-inclusive adult package
- PBI World Tennis Camp, Oct. 3-6, 2019 at Reynolds Lake Oconee and Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Georgia
- PBI World Tennis Camp, Dec. 3-7, 2019 at Jumeirah Beach Hotel, United Arab Emirates
- PBI World Tennis Camp, Dec. 4-8, 2019 at Baha Mar, Bahamas
Tennis Resorts Online has once again secured four tennis vacations to give away in our annual drawing. Every review you file between now and April 30, 2020 gives you chance a winning one of these great tennis vacation prizes:
- Cliff Drysdale Tennis at Chateau Elan Winery & Resort: The lucky winner can look forward to two days of tennis camp for two people (3 hours each day) taught by the Cliff Drysdale staff on the hard or clay courts in racquet park in the North Georgia picturesque foothills. The prize also includes two nights of accommodations in a Deluxe Inn room and access to all the recreation and amenities this winery and resort, near Atlanta, Georgia, has to offer. Valid from May 1-December 30, 2020.
- New England Tennis Holidays at Sugarbush: This long-running and consistently highly rated tennis camp parlays a setting in Vermont's Green Mountains with a solid five-hour-a-day program run by experienced pros. The winner can look forward to two days of tennis camp (five hours a day) on Har-Tru courts and lunch both days, for two people (lodging is additional) Valid for 2020/2021 season.
- Saddlebrook Tennis: Although the tennis program is renowned as one of the planet's most intensive, the setting is pure multidimensional resort with golf, a lake-sized pool, and spa as complements to the on-court work. You could win a two-day tennis package for two, consisting of five hours of intensive tennis instruction each day (for both people) along with video analysis at this world-renowned resort in Wesley Chapel, near Tampa, Florida (lodging and meals not included).
- Saddlebrook Junior Tennis: Rate any junior camp and you're eligible to win a one-week junior camp at Saddlebrook Resort in Wesley Chapel, FL. The 6-day/5-night session includes 5+ hours of daily instruction, shared lodging in a junior suite, and all meals.
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