Tennis Anyone? Visit the Saddlebrook Resort in Tampa

by Laura Kronen on February 19, 2013

saddlebrook tennis resort

If you know anything about me, you know that next to my family and Life Coaching, tennis is my biggest passion.  I’d play every day if life didn’t get in the way!  Its great exercise, it fulfills my über competitive spirit, its social AND I get to wear cute outfits!

As luck would have it, I happen to live in the mecca of the tennis world – Atlanta, Georgia.  We have more leagues here than you could ever shake a racquet at: ALTA, USTA, T2, Ultimate Tennis, NetLineup, League Tennis, Top 10 Challenge Ladder, and the list goes on.  I think I play on a good majority of them.

I almost hesitate to share the following information with you, because I want it to be all mine, but I’ve already told you about my favorite lipgloss, so we truly have no secrets:  A few weeks ago I happened to read out about a jewel of a tennis resort outside of Tampa called Saddlebrook.  Within minutes, I called up my best girlfriend and we booked a trip for the beginning of February.  For those that enjoy swinging a club, Saddlebrook also happens to be a golf resort too, but this was strictly a tennis getaway.

saddlebrook resort

The 480 acre resort itself was wonderful.  Lush and tropical, great accommodations, lake size pool (and fab pool bar for après tennis where Lorraine will whip you up an icy mojito), wonderful service and an amazing spa with a plethora of treatments to choose from.The only thing that I can truly criticize here was the food and the painfully slow dining service. Saddlebrook definitely has some work to do in that department. Although, in their defense, they did make chocolate chip cookies appear when I was desperate for them. I forgive anyone, for anything, if they give me chocolate.

However, a review of the resort is not my real intention here. Instead, its to call out the gem of a Tennis Program at Saddlebrook and the amazing staff they have running it, led by Howard Moore, Program Director. I cannot sing the praises of Howard enough.  He is hands on, has the magic cure for everything you need corrected, and is as positive, upbeat and polite as it gets.  One day, when I hit the Powerball and I can have a tennis pro on staff, I am going to lure him away from Saddlebrook (so be forewarned!)

Although this tropical setting is hardly what you’d expect from the mother of all hard-core tennis camps, that is truly what it is. Saddlebrook Tennis is steeped in tradition, offering world-class tennis training facilities for players of all ages and ability levels since 1986.  Some of the most legendary tennis players have trained at Saddlebrook’s Florida tennis academy. I even saw John Isner while I was there thanks to Shawn, an integral part of the lovely tennis staff, and someone who is “in the know.”  You should definitely meet him while you are there.  He will take care of you. One morning, when I was not being challenged on a court I was playing on, I voiced my concerns to him and within seconds, and without further discussion, he whisked me away to another court where I instantly improved and had a better learning experience. You will probably get to meet him when he gives you a no holds barred video analysis of your playing and ultimately gets you to improve your strokes.

The Hopman Program, built and run on the coaching principals that Harry Hopman, the most successful of all Davis Cup captains and one of the most noted tennis coaches in history, definitely puts physical demands on you.  Five hours a day of drills isn’t for sissies, and you are super sore the next day. The very philosophy of this program is to push you to the point that your game breaks down, find what is salvageable in the rubble, and rebuild from there. The pros ran drills that taxed us physically and pushed us to our limits. In general they try to have you stay with the same pro throughout your stay (barring his or her days off), so they oversee your progress first-hand. They tailor the work to the abilities of the campers they oversee. Rather than stand in one place and hit picture-perfect strokes, you pretty much have to run for every ball. Like the pros, you’ll do a lot of two-on-one drills, and drills with the other campers on your court. The process can be exhilarating, demoralizing, or both, but you will come away from this program knowing where you stand with respect to your aerobic conditioning and what you really need to do to take your game to the next level.

Tennis fanatics from all over the world visit Saddlebrook each year for the intense instruction and the outstanding personal attention and professionalism from the tennis and resort staff.   Its juniors, both live-in and short term, hope the program will set them on the road to greatness (or at least a college scholarship), while adults come looking to get in shape, test their physical prowess, or perhaps search for a magic elixir to cure, once and for all, their backhand volley or their kick serve. Speaking of which, I have a lot more to work on and I cannot wait to go back!  Tennis anyone?

Visit Saddlebrook Tennis






{ 1 comment }

Jennifer T February 22, 2013 at 12:06 pm

I’ve heard great things about Saddlebrook. Now Im definitely going to book a trip! I have some serious work to do on my net play!

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