By Roger Cox, Editor
After 18 years at the Westin Mission Hills Resort, the Reed Anderson Tennis School has left that venue and moved next door to the Mission Hills Country Club. The new venue affords his students access to the Country Club's 34 hard, clay, and grass tennis courts as well as to its 17,000-square-foot clubhouse and fitness center and to its three 18-hole golf courses, with the option of staying at a condominium within walking distance of the courts or elsewhere in the Palm Springs desert.
Kevin Pilon found out about the Reed Anderson Tennis School by accident, when business took him from his home near Hartford, Connecticut, to Palm Springs, California. But he was so taken by Anderson's approach to teaching that he came back on vacation five months later, this time with his wife and teenage son, bent on doing another three days of the school.
"He gives you only one thing to think about, but that correction somehow fixes the other six things that are also wrong," Pilon says of Anderson's instruction. "And beyond that I like the format, the mix of drills, thought, strategy, and then playing. For me, that works."
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A former college and satellite player, Anderson has logged more than two decades on the teaching court, including a stint in Lake Tahoe the 1970s with Billie Jean King and Dennis Van der Meer's TennisAmerica program. He's run his own school since 1982. All that experience has made him a gifted diagnostician, a man who, as Pilon discovered, sees through to the essential flaw and focuses on that.
Yet Anderson is not a exactly household name, even in households full of tennis players. One reason he isn't is, paradoxically, one very good reason why he deserves to be: Anderson has allowed his school to grow to the point where it's profitable yet not so large that he can't get to know and personally help every student who comes to him. He has long used ball machines to feed so he and his pros can work directly with students on their side of the net. "The older I get the more I realize you have to do certain things to hit the ball right," says Anderson.
Nevertheless, he eschews any particular system, preferring instead to adapt his teaching to each individual. "I think I'm more flexible than ever, no schedule, no program," he adds. "My real skill lies in getting the most out of people's games. People leave and they're hitting the ball better but they don't realize what happened. They don't think I've changed much but I've changed a lot." He's also unusual in stressing play almost as much as technique. A three-hour session typically devotes half the time to instruction and drills and the other half to supervised doubles with advice on strategy and tactics.
From October to May, Anderson offer two-, three-, and five-day packages with the option of three or five hours a day of group instruction. All of his clinics have a spontaneous feel, as if he altered the drills and approach as he went along, making things up to suit each particular group and, perhaps, his own mood. Rather than lecture during water breaks, Anderson lets the conversation wander wherever the group wants it to go. It may start with observations about the pros or questions like "What's the one word that describes your state of mind in a match?" but almost never ends with tennis. Pilon finds that refreshing. "I like the relaxed talk between drills about sports, tennis, life," he says. "After three days with Reed I felt like we'd gone to college together. We got into a lot of stuff."
Spa & Fitness
For other programs similar to Reed Anderson's, check out:
Three-day tennis school packages include 3 hours of instruction daily. Prices are per person, exclusive of lodging. Deeply discounted villa rates available at Mission Hills through the Tennis School.
Oct. 1, 2015-July 1, 2016
Instruction only (9 hours): $450/3-day session.
Seasons. The school runs from October through June.
General Tourist Information. Visit the Palm Springs Desert Resorts Convention & Visitors Authority website or contact them at 69-930 Hwy. 111, Suite 201, Rancho Mirage, CA 92270. Phone: 760-770-9000 or 800-967-3767 or Fax: 760-770-9001.