Getting ready to go on holiday? Don't forget your racket. Here's our tennis player's guide to the pefect summer break
Unless your idea of a perfect holiday is a break from tennis (and that probably means you are Roger Federer), not taking your racket on holiday can be a serious mistake. Your skill is not only a perfect way to counter with a litle exercise the problmes of too much food and sedentary sun bathing, it is also a great way to meet people and make new friends. Here are our top tips:
Take your racket
In many places you can hire a racket, but it is easier and cheaper to take your own. If you own two, take your second best (just in case something happens to your favoruite blade).
Generally speaking, it is safer to assume you can't take your racket on as hand baggage when you fly. We put ours in an ordinary suitcase and put them in the hold, but some airlines will allow them as carry-on luggage. There is an interesting "definitive" guide here.
If you are travelling as couple or a family, try to take two rackets - at least you can have a hit among yourselves.
You might think that wherever you find a tennis court you will find tennis balls. But you can't rely on it. We have stayed in four-star hotels with their own courts but which had no useable tennis balls. What's more (and this was Spain) not a single shop in town - even the "sports" shops - sold tennis balls!
Don't worry, a new can of tennis balls won't explode on the plane, but you might open them before the flight anyway, especially if you are going far. Masssaging your feet with a tennis ball while flying will help increase circulation, consultant orthopaedic surgeon Ali Ghoz from the London Orthopaedic Clinic told the Daily Star last year.
Just like back home, most tennis venues will insist you wear tennis shoes. But this needn't bulk up your packing. Though using tennis shoes for everyday walking is usually the quickest way to ruin them, an old pair of tennis shoes is just about the most comfortable holiday footwear around. Leave your new Mizunos at home and give your old pair a walking holiday and you will be ready when you do find a court.
FIND A COURT
Many hotels have their own courts, and if they don't they may have a special arrangement with a hotel or sports centre which does. Check at reception and book early - the cooler morning and evening slots go fast.
If your hotel doesn't have a court, look out for or Google nearby hotels that do. Often, with a little polite negotiating, other hotels will allow you to book their court if it is available.
But a local club may be the easiet solution of all. Many will rent you a court - just ask at reception. Even big and exclusive clubs may open their doors if you book a lesson with the local pro. Once you have made that contact, good things happen - we have been introduced by coaches to local players keen for an extra hit.
Look out too for public tennis facilities. Just like back home, most have courts which can be hired by the hour.
Unless you are actually on a tennis holiday, finding players to play can be tricky. If your resort has a court but no one organising activities, ask if you can put up a notice on the court door or let reception know you are looking for a match. If you don't mind leaving your phone number, you will be suprised by the number of offers you get. Don't forget to set expectations: if you are a beginner say so. Equally, if you are a couple looking for some freindly doubles, let people know.
MAKE NEXT YEAR A TENNIS HOLIDAY
To be clear, you don't need to go on a special tennis trip to make tennis part of your holiday. But if you have really got the bug, follow things up with a bespoke tennis trip next time. We offer an amazing 12% all year round discount on trips to the Rafa Nadal Academy in Mallorca which we think should be your first port of call, but there are great tennis locations all over the world and holiday operators (like Neilson and Mark Warner) which incorporate tennis into their family-orientated packages. Bon voyage.