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Sea Colony, Bethany Beach, Delaware
©Roger Cox

Sea Colony

Bethany Beach, Delaware

By Roger Cox, Editor

More than 30 people were already on the teaching courts when I joined one of the morning drop-in clinics Sea Colony runs on weekdays. It was approaching July, when every one of some 2,200 condominiums and homes fill up with summer guests and homeowners. While the beach is unquestionably the biggest draw, tennis with 34 hard and clay courts, 6 of them indoors, could easily lay claim to being the No. 2 reason people opt to vacation there. In fact, many owners told me that the deciding factor in their purchase of a home was the quality of the tennis, both for them and their kids. Apart from those midweek clinics, the summer roster lures players to the courts with Live Ball and regular Cardio, doubles clinics, Nike Adult Camps, the resort's own tennis camps, custom-designed tennis getaways with optional mental-toughness component, social pro-run round robins, and a mix of junior programs running the gamut from drills and games for 4- to 7-year-olds to NIKE tennis camps and tournament tough training. And the year is otherwise peppered with exhibitions, junior tournaments, demo days, and more, among them the ResortQuest Pro Women's Open, a $25,000 USTA Pro Circuit event. At any season the staff is there to help set up games, aided now by the ability of guests and members to sign up online. All of this is designed to keep tennis in the forefront of people's consciousness.
The resort, which dates to the early 1970s, has something of a split personality. Route 1 divides two completely different neighborhoods. On one side is the beach—a broad boulevard of soft sand bordered by dunes over which looms a phalanx of frankly rather stark 10-to-14-story towers, their harshness somewhat relieved by long dune-fronting boardwalks, broad patios, and the occasional swimming pool, one of them indoors. On the opposite side of the highway, a tiny marketplace of shops and restaurants marks the entrance to a leafy and altogether tranquil community of residential streets with low-rise condominiums and homes, lakes, ponds, swimming pools, and a $7.5 million fitness and aquatics center, linked to one another and the beach by trams and dedicated bike paths. Although there are four hard courts on the beach side, the real tennis activity takes place at the main tennis center in the residential quarter

Tennis Features

Pro Shop: 302-539-4488

Having a great tennis facility and a broad range of programs is an obvious asset, and it's one Sea Colony enhances with friendly, always-happy-to-help staff. The tone is set by director Thomas Johnston, a wry, very likable Texan with an Thomas Johnston, Director of Tennis, Sea Colony, Bethany Beach, DEeasy-going manner. A Division III All American at Pomona/Pitzer in Southern California, he began his career as a coach, first at Pomona/Pitzer and later at the University of Virginia (where he also earned a Master's Degree in sports psychology). He made the transition to resort tennis at Wintergreen Resort, initially working with former touring pro Craig Wittus, then taking over the top spot when Wittus left. He moved down out of the mountains to Sea Colony in 2010, and has since taken it to Gold Medal status in Tennis Resorts Online's annual rankings. He has a staff of 10 pros in summer, college or former college players, nearly half of them women.

Courts & Fees. Although there are four lighted hard courts at the beach, the real tennis action takes place at the main tennis center. It comprises six indoor hard courts with sandwiched between another six outdoor courts and 14 Har-Tru courts. There are and additional four hard courts in the trees across the road, two of those now sporting blended lines to accommodate pickleball. Grand Central Station for tennis is the pro shop on the ground floor of the indoor building. Above it, a long viewing area overlooks the indoor courts and has a bar for use in special events. It opens in back onto a broad deck with a panoramic perspective on the Har-Tru courts, where the women's tournament is held. Although the pro shop closes at 7 p.m., those well-lighted indoor courts remain open on a first-come, first-served basis until 10 p.m. Court fees: None, not even for the indoor courts.

Ratings

(645 Reviewers)
Tennis Overall
4½-Ball Rating Tennis Staff
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Game Matching
3½-Ball Rating Junior Tennis
4-Ball Rating Tennis Complex
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Cuisine
2½-Ball Rating Lodging
3½-Ball Rating Spa & Fitness
4-Ball Rating
Dollar Value
4½-Ball Rating Other Recreation
4½-Ball Rating Setting
3½-Ball Rating
Kids' Programs
4½-Ball Rating Romance
4-Ball Rating Solo Travelers
4-Ball Rating


Sea Colony Tennis Camp Ratings
( 523 Reviewers)
Tennis Overall
4½-Ball Rating
Tennis Staff
4½-Ball Rating
Instruction
4-Ball Rating
Junior Tennis
4½-Ball Rating
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Boars Head 250x250


Ratings

(645 Reviewers)
Tennis Overall
4½-Ball Rating Instruction
4-Ball Rating Tennis Complex
4½-Ball Rating Lodging
3½-Ball Rating Spa & Fitness
4-Ball Rating Dollar Value
4½-Ball Rating Kids' Programs
4½-Ball Rating Solo Travelers
4-Ball Rating
Tennis Staff
4½-Ball Rating Game Matching
3½-Ball Rating Junior Tennis
4-Ball Rating Cuisine
2½-Ball Rating Other Recreation
4½-Ball Rating Setting
3½-Ball Rating Romance
4-Ball Rating


Sea Colony Tennis Camp Ratings
( 523 Reviewers)
Tennis Overall
4½-Ball Rating Instruction
4-Ball Rating Dollar Value
4½-Ball Rating
Tennis Staff
4½-Ball Rating Junior Tennis
4½-Ball Rating

Other Recreation

Beach. Sea Colony fronts ½ mile of Bethany Beach, a broad boulevard of soft sand washed by the Atlantic Ocean. A free shuttle takes guests from Sea Colony West (where the tennis center is) across Route 1 to the beach.

Fitness Center. A short walk from the tennis center is $7.5 million multi-use fitness and aquatic center with indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a snack bar, gymnasium, and a well-equipped workout room. Personal trainers are available as are a variety of classes, including spinning, Zumba (both aquatic and dry land), yoga, Barre toning, and water aerobics.

And ... Bike paths lace Sea Colony West making it easy for kids to get from houses and townhomes there to the tennis courts, fitness center, or marketplace (though to reach the beach they have to cross busy Route 1).

Children's Programs

Colony Kids and Club Sea Colony take kids for 2 and 4 hours respectively for a mix of swimming, games, crafts, and other diversions./p>

Lodging

Lodging at Sea Colony ranges from one-bedroom condos to five-bedroom homes, all of them privately owned and decorated. Prices vary partly with location and view. All have fully equipped kitchens, washer/dryers, central air conditioning, Wi-Fi, and cable televisions. Some have readier access to swimming pools than others.

Restaurants

The Marketplace at the entrance to Sea Colony has two restaurants: several restaurants, Fin's Ale House and Armand's Pizza among them, but there are numerous other choices within easy driving distance in Bethany and Fenwick Beaches.

See Also

Among the other tennis resorts similar to Sea Colony are:

Rates and Reservations

Lodging consists of 1-to-5 bedroom condos and houses, some oceanfront, others near the tennis complex. During the summer, one-week bookings are required.

Visit the website for current rates

Sea Colony
33546 Marketplace
P.O. Box 480
Bethany Beach, DE 19930
302-539-6961
Toll-free: 800-732-2656
Web Link: Sea Colony


Travel Essentials

Seasons. Year-round thanks to its indoor courts.

Travel Instructions. The nearest major airports are Baltimore Washington International Airport (BWI) and Philadelphia International Airport (PHL), each roughly a 2½-hour drive from Bethany Beach. The alternative is to fly into Salisbury Regional Airport (SBY) in Salisbury, MD, which is approximately 45 minutes' drive south of Bethany Beach and is served by Piedmont Airlines.

General Tourist Information. Apart from other reasons to visit Bethany Beach is the fact that Delaware does not charge sales tax. Rehoboth, 14 miles north of Bethany Beach, has some 140 factory outlet stores along a two-mile stretch of Route 1 to help you better take advantage. For general information about travel within Delaware, visit the Delaware Tourism Office website or contact them at 99 Kings Highway, Dover, DE 19901. Phone: toll-free 866-284-7483. For specific information about the Bethany Beach area, visit the Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce website or contact them at 36913 Coastal Highway, Fenwick Island, DE 19944. Phone: 302-539-2100 or toll-free 800-962-7873.