By Roger Cox, Editor
Players at the 8-court Tennis Club at the Williamsburg Inn face some rather unusual distractions, like the Revolutionary War taking place on the nearby streets. "You can be playing at 4:30 in the afternoon and suddenly hear the fife and drum corps," notes tennis director Hoy Correll. "That's what makes this unique."
Surrounded by the buildings and activity of a colonial village, you can often feel that you're being buffeted by two centuries. Not just the fife and drums but the fact that there are sheep grazing behind a white fence in a pasture just across the road or that you'll see village staff in his or her 18th-century garb headed home after a day of work. It is, as Correll points out, a very unusual environment in which to play tennis.
The courts—six Har-Tru and two hard—are just a few steps from The Williamsburg Inn, one of several hotels within the colonial village (all of which have playing privileges at this tennis center). Built in 1937 by John D. Rockefeller and recently renovated, this elegant 62-room hotel and its Providence Hall annexes and cluster of colonial houses (available for rent) stand just a short stroll from Duke of Gloucester Street at the heart of the colonial city. It backs up to a golf course and swimming pools and has a spa and fitness center in one of its wings. And except in winter, recruiters pass by the hotel each afternoon looking for volunteers to muster for the march on Yorktown, a step on the road to American independence.
And spending time in Colonial Williamsburg is obviously the chief reason to visit. This revolutionary city contains more than 500 buildings, almost 100 of them original structures, including the parish church and courthouse. Within them, people in period costume go about their lives. Guided tours explain the architectural and historical significance of key buildings, while in the streets a revolution is at hand—though it is far from unanimous as dissenters and loyalists decry the direction the country is headed.
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Tennis director Hoy Correll, who played college tennis at Catawba College in Salisbury, NC, wears 21st century tennis clothing, but jests that he "left New York City in May 2006 and arrived in Colonial Williamsburg in 1775." This is actually his third stint here, having previously been part of the staff in the 1980s and 1990s. Much of his teaching is comprised of private lessons though he does offer adult and junior clinics three days a week. Otherwise, the demand is for game matching. "â€œWe have enough members (about 125) that I can work up games with hotel guests at almost any level," he told me. "I don't have any 6.0s but I have some 5.0s." He operates out of a small brick, clapboard, and shingle pro shop one side of the courts, with tables and chairs outside beneath the trees.
Courts & Fees. There are 6 welch-maintained Har-Tru open from March to November, and 2 hard courts open year-round. Court fees: Guests of selected hotels get one free hour of court time daily.
Golf Courses. There are two 18-hole courses and a 9-hole course make up the Golden Horseshoe Golf Club. Robert Trent Jones Sr. designed the 6,817-year, Par-71 Gold course in 1963, conferring traditional layout and considering it his "finest design." His son added the Green Course in 1991, through much the same landscape but making his longer at 7,120 yards and more forgiving. They are supplemented by the Spotswood Course, which is actually Trent Jones Sr.'s redesign of the club's original 1947 nine-hole course, with six par 3s, two par 4s, and one par 5.
Spa & Fitness Center. There is a full-service spa not far from the Williamsburg Inn and a fitness center with indoor and outdoor pools, a basic suite of cardio and weight-training equipment, and classes in yoga, Pilates, hip-hop, ballet, boot camp, and kettle bell.
There is a broad range of dining options, beginning with multiple taverns in the Colonial village, and continuing up the scale to more elegant dining in places like the Regency Room in the Williamsburg Inn, which showcases Virginia's bounty.
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Season. Year-round, though tennis season (and the clay-court season) typically extends from March to November.
Travel Instructions. The nearest airport is Virginia's Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport (PHF), which is 20 minutes' drive from the hotels and colonial village. The alternatives are Richmond International Airport (RIC) and Norfolk International Airport (ORF), each about 45 minutes drive away
General Tourist Information. For information about Colonial Williamsburg, visit the Colonial Williamsburg website.