By Roger Cox, Editor
South Beach is a separate fiefdom within Sea Pines, the legendary development at the southern tip of Hilton Head Island. It clusters around the South Beach Marina, a collection of New England-inspired buildings containing shops, restaurants, and a bargain-priced inn. For tennis players, however, the lure is the South Beach Racquet Club, whose 13 courts attract their own coterie of avid players with a blend of homey, Lowcountry architecture and a friendly, clublike atmosphere.
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Though upstaged by the high-profile Sea Pines Racquet Club in another part of the development, the South Beach Racquet Club deserves consideration, especially if you simply love to play. Its welcoming clubhouse resembles a Lowcountry cottage, with a porch that wraps around two sides. Rocking chairs on the porch, which overlooks Court 1, a 1,000-squarefoot deck at one end, and free morning coffee (except in summer) all encourage people to drop by and hang around. "Many of our members have their own rocking chair," notes Don Sigmon, who owns and operates the club with his wife Rachel. Those avid members account for much of the activity; however everyone is welcome, whether or not they're staying within the resort. Or as Sigmon puts it: "To play here you need to like tennis and enjoy having a good time."
The club is just a few steps from the shops, restaurants, and watersports center at South Beach Marina and about 300 yards from the beach. Bicycles can be rented at the racquet club, and at the end of the day lots of people wander over to the Salty Dog Cafe, a favorite place for beverages and snacks.
Tennis Staff. Owners Don and Rachel Sigmon take an active part in the club's operation. The very popular Brian Kiggins, who had been head pro in the past, has returned after a stint at another Hilton Head Island resort, this time as Director of Tennis.
Tennis Programs. Apart from private lessons, South Beach runs stroke-of-the-day clinics for adults and, in summer, a variety of clinics for children (ages 5-8), pre-teens, and teens. With roughly 175 members—about half of them full-time residents—to draw on, the staff can often put together competitive matches for anyone who asks. Another way to meet players—apart from just dropping by—is to attend one of the twice-weekly round robins, which attract anywhere from a few to 16 players. Beyond that there are adult clinics and drills and several junior sessions (by age or ability) every Monday through Friday.
Courts & Fees. South Beach has 13 clay courts, six of them in a cluster anchored by the clubhouse and another seven among the trees across the road. Fees are $20/hour walk-in, $25 with a reservation (although those who rent through certain agencies get free or discounted rates—check with the pro shop for up-to-date information).
Spa & Fitness
If you like the friendly informality of the South Beach Racquet Club, also check out:
For rentals near the South Beach Racquet Club, contact:
South Beach Inn & Vacation Rentals., Inc.The options include rooms at the South Beach Inn (which has efficiencies and 1- and 2-bedroom units) as well as villas and homes ranging in size from studios to 5 bedrooms.
232 S. Sea Pines Dr.
Hilton Head Island, SC 29938
Web: South Beach Inn & Vacation Rentals
Visit the website for current rates
Seasons. Year-round though busiest during the period from June into September.
Travel Instructions. By Air: South Beach is 45 miles from Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport (SAV) in Georgia and 95 miles from Charleston International Airport (CHS). Major airlines serve both of those gateways. It is also possible to fly directly to Hilton Head Island Airport (HHH), on commuter service from US Airways Express, via Charlotte, NC. Rental cars and shuttles are available at all three airports.
General Tourist Information. Visit the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce and Convention & Visitors Bureau website or contact them at 1 Chamber Dr., P.O. Box 5647, Hilton Head Island, SC 29938; 843-785-3673 or toll-free 800-523-3373.