Read the full blog on the Active Away Dragons’ Den Journey. An incredible journey from start to finish, this blog gives you the inside scoop!
We can’t wait to be back on court when it’s safe to do so!
The pent up demand for Tennis Holidays is huge, we know everyone is desperate to get away.
We are hoping to get back on court for our UK Indoor Doubles Tennis Clinics this summer (2021)!
After a period of time off the Tennis Court due to Covid-19 Restrictions, we have a summer of tennis planned for 2021.
Staying at home, not hitting any Tennis balls and watching Netflix – it’s not conducive to improving your game! Don’t worry – we are here to help!
First off,a quick introduction: my name is James and earlier this year I joined Active Away on a 12 month internship after graduating from the University of Nottingham. During my time at Uni I was fortunate to spend a large portion of time training alongside, playing with and observing some of the top talents in University and college tennis. In addition to this, when back home, I’ve spent the last 8 years working as a tennis coach at my local club Kenilworth Tennis Club in Warwickshire, eventually hearing about Active Away through clients of the company who play at Kenilworth. Having been fortunate enough over the last couple of months to sample some of Greece’s highest rated resorts I felt this was the perfect opportunity to kickstart this blog series by revisiting some of my personal highlights with Active Away from 2018 whilst also providing an insight into my thoughts on the resorts I visited. [br][br]
Daphnila BayI began my autumn season at one of the smaller resorts that Active Away tennis holidays frequents – Grecotel Daphnila Bay, Corfu. What this resort lacks in size it more than makes up for with its natural beauty. Corfu has long been regarded as one of the more beautiful Greek islands and Daphnila Bay, situated on the Eastern Coast, is no exception with lush greenery throughout the resort right down to the water’s edge. The resort’s well-maintained tennis courts are situated on slightly higher ground to the side of the hotel, providing fantastic vistas. The close nature of the tennis set up at Daphnila Bay made for great social afternoon sessions, with the banter flying from court to court as scores got close and friendly rivalries were born. That said, my standout point of my time in Corfu came away from the tennis court. The resort has recently moved up to 5* and one key area its improved in has been the food. A sprawling buffet and 2 beachfront “speciality” restaurants, one Greek and one Italian, mean that guests have plenty of options to choose from. However, it would be foolish to think that this quantity negatively affects the quality and, on more than one occasion, I heard our guests remark that this was the best catered tennis holiday they’d ever experienced. A highlight of mine, which I feel encapsulates the Corfu Active Away tennis holiday experience, was sitting down as a group after an action packed doubles social afternoon at the beachside Greek restaurant to sample the endless meze options whilst overlooking the tranquil Daphnila Bay. Great views, good food and a delightful tennis holiday set up. What more could you want from your tennis holiday? [br][br]
Lyttos BeachWhat makes for the best tennis holiday is a question we often debate in the office. However, it goes without saying that the tennis facilities themselves are a vital part of any Active Away holiday. This brings us onto Lyttos beach, a 4* resort based in Crete with big ambitions in the tennis world. Offering 27 courts across 3 surfaces of acrylic, artificial grass and artificial clay it’s easy to see why the ITF circuit is also a regular visitor to this venue. I was lucky enough to spend 3 weeks of this season at Lyttos Beach and can honestly say I never tired of the setup there. The variety of surfaces meant a new experience for many of our clients at the beginning of the week and it was always great to end the week with our Champagne Social and see so many big smiles as people, having adapted to a new surface, began to put into practice their newly learnt doubles tactics! The end of the week also meant a trip to the vibrant local town of Hersonnisos. Stepping outside of the all-inclusive bubble for the first time in a while meant I had my initial reservations. These could not have been more wide of the mark. Active Away has visited Kymata restaurant for years and it’s not hard to see why. A superb array of food was washed down with a glass of wine and a couple of ouzos and, before you knew it, the whole group was on their feet singing along toNeil Diamond, Whitney Houston and other classics. The restaurant is positioned right on the seafront (Kymata means ‘waves’ in Greek) and it’s a fantastic end to cap off the week before dancing the evening away and enjoying a cocktail or two at nearby bar New York! [br][br]
Kalimera KritiJust down the road from Lyttos Beach, along the North Coast of Crete, lies Kalimera Kriti, a new resort for Active Away in 2018. The first thing that struck me about Kalimera Kriti was the setting. Behind the resort’s 6 impeccably maintained artificial grass courts lies a stunning mountain range and gorge which provides a staggering backdrop for a morning on the courts. This venue certainly delivers a tennis holiday with a view. The resort itself was built with a traditional sense in mind, with the bungalows and rooms being laid out in a style designed to emulate that of a Cretan village. The courts lie just a stone’s throw away from the accommodation making it a short walk to your room to get changed for the evening after an absorbing social afternoon of doubles! [br][br]
SaniMy travels for the season concluded with a trip to the famed Sani Resort which was recently voted within the top 5 resorts in Europe and number 6 in the world! I’d heard much about Sani before travelling there, both in the office and from our clients, but the resort still managed to exceed my expectations. The attention to detail and service is incredible, with everything right down to the daily room supply of teabags accounted for. The resort offers 6 Canadian clay courts, which are well maintained daily and present a new experience to many of our clients. My week in Sani took place during one of Active Away’s popular family weeks and the fact that all the courts were so close together meant for a brilliant tennis experience whereby the adult sessions could be spread across 3 courts and the kids, separated by their relevant levels and abilities, played on the adjacent 3 courts. Looking back on my Sani experience, there were two particular moments that stood out for me as highlights. Firstly, partying the evening away at the infamous Sani ‘White Party’ for which guests are encouraged to dress all in white, order a cocktail and take in the relaxing ambience of beachfront Bousolas bar. Reaching the middle of the week and seeing so many newly made friends dancing and laughing the night away was a fantastic experience. My second highlight would have to be the end of week tournament. With it being a family week, this provided a great opportunity for parents to join forces with their kids and face off against other families and the light hearted nature and good feeling that encapsulated this tournament was the perfect way tosign off a season of delivering 5* tennis holidays!
GET READY !!!!!
Hi everyone and welcome to part four of our tennis crimes blog. At active away cannot stress enough how strongly we feel about today’s blog. Nothing frustrates me more as a tennis coach than seeing one of our players on our tennis holidays about to return a serve but actually looks like they are waiting for a bus.
The “ready” position is the best way to prepare for an incoming ball, it allows you to be balanced but still allows room to be sharp and move dynamically either way, making it much more difficult for your opponent to cause damage with their strike.
We see a few crimes committed relating to this on our tennis holidays. Firstly the ‘lock up and throw away the key’ crime is never being ready; racket down by your side and flat footed. You are simply fighting a losing battle if you aren’t ready for the ball.
The second crime we see is almost as bad; the player that before the point is about to begin looks so sharp, so strong, so dynamic . However as soon as the point begins they fall back into the flat footed habits they had before just watching the game go past them.
The ready position is not the only thing you need to do be ready, it’s simply the start of having a ready attitude. The work you do in between your shots is crucial in the quest to make every ball you hit the best it can possibly be.
So ask yourself these questions:
What does your ready position look like?
When should you be in the ready position?
The ready position is the foundation for almost all of your footwork when you are playing tennis. How you move around the tennis court in one way or another relates directly back to your ready position.
- You want your feet about shoulder width apart, or a little bit wider.
- Your knees should be slightly bent and your weight should be on the balls of your feet, not the heels.
- Your upper body should be relaxed, with your arms and the tennis racket out in front of your body.
- Angle the head of your racket up a little bit.
- It’s also important that your upper body should not be hunched over, bending forward. Your back should be straight so that with your legs bent it is almost like you are sitting in a chair.
- Your eyes should be on your opponent and especially the tennis ball, not looking down at the tennis court.
- Practically speaking, when you are in the ready position you want to be about a foot shorter than your normal height, which is a good athletic height.
“GET READY, STAY READY”
The ‘EASY’ Smash !!!!
Hi everyone and welcome to part three of our Tennis crimes Blog, I hope you are all enjoying them and getting the chance to practice guarding against committing the crimes!!
We are going to start this weeks tennis crime by painting a really clear picture.
You’ve hit a crushing forehand down the line allowing yourself to stride into the net ready to put away the inevitable ‘easy’ volley… however, here comes the problem, you’re playing against the most annoying player you can play, the dreaded “hacker”. He scrambles to the forehand and strikes the ball high in the sky… and in here lies the crime, its something we see time and time again on our tennis holidays, the net player has moved forward still looking proud of the previous forehand they hit but you forget to move, the ball goes high up above your head, somehow your feet suddenly feel like they are stuck in super glue and the rest of your body moves in slow motion.
Then comes the crime, despite being in a terrible position we still try and hit the ball as hard as we possibly can, the ball (if indeed any contact is made) goes flying at 200mph over the back fence and bounces away down the road.
So why do we see this happen so much on our tennis holidays, firstly we believe part of the problem is in the name! The name SMASH implies that we have to hit the ball as hard as we can, this simply isn’t true, a shot hit from overhead could have any tactical intention completely dependant on the ball you receive. You could indeed be defending a ‘smash’.
So here is a drill to help you with your overhead shots.
Ask a friend/coach to hit a few balls to you that could be hit overhead, ask the player/coach to shout out “hit” or “catch” leaving it as late as they can, if you’re not in a good enough position to do be able to do both then you are not finding a good enough position to catch the ball in your left hand. This means you are probably not in a good enough position to be able to hit an effective consistent overhead.
Having A Plan
Hi everyone and welcome again to part 2 on our ‘tennis crimes’ series. On our tennis holidays I think back to what the most common request to improve people’s tennis is, while occasionally people would like to be able to send down a 150 mph rocket 1st serve or learn to craft a stunning slice backhand fizzing off the court, the overwhelming favourite request is “I’d like to be more consistent” or “I’d like to make less errors” both fantastic things to work on, if we as tennis players can achieve these then we will most definitely be collecting more points and winning more matches !!!
“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail! – Benjamin Franklin”
So what does consistency really mean?
Well for us at active away it can mean a lot of things, I could in theory be consistent at hitting ‘lights out’ winners down the line, however in the long run its probably not a tactic that will pay off. So here’s the crime were going to be looking at today. On our tennis holidays you will often hear the coaches ask questions such as “what were you trying to do with that shot” and here comes the crime……….
“I have no idea what I was doing”
Well if we don’t know what we’re trying to do with the ball the likelihood is that it won’t be doing anything positive. This is often when we find he ball hitting the side fence or even when we start losing balls.
So how do we plan what to do with the tennis ball? Firstly it goes without saying that this is a difficult skill that can take years of practice and repetition. There are an awful lot of factors that can influence what we want to do with the ball and we only have a split second to make the choice, but here are a few to consider.
Where you are? Your court position will certainly have an influence on the type of shot you need to be hitting, are you too deep to attack? Are you too wide to go back cross court?
Where is your opponent? Again a huge influence when planning your next shot. Are they out if position? Can I exploit the space?
What are your strengths and their weaknesses? It’s such a simple tactic in tennis but under used, the amount of times on our tennis holidays we see forehand to forehand rallies, try and find times where you can use your strength to your opponents weakness!
The ball you have received. Of course this is the biggest factor in our decision, is it spinning, is it fast, is it high?[divider scroll_text=””]
Here’s a really simple drill to help you put this in to practice, split every shot you hit into one of three categories; Defend, Rally, Attack.
Practise one: Rally with a partner and try to make a decision before you hit the ball. Call out either attack rally or defend using the above 4 questions to help influence your decision.
Practice two: Can you play a point and say which tactical intention you have before you hit the ball?
Practice three: Could you even play a whole set doing this?
This will help you understand your strengths and weaknesses as well as improving your decision making process at the same time. In time this will become much more natural, of course Andy Murray doesn’t say “DEFEND” as he chased back to scrape a ball off the baseline but I can guarantee it was something he worked on extensively as a junior making him one of the best tactical players in the game.
So remember on our tennis holidays. The coaches will be asking you “what were you trying to do with that all” if you answer with “I was trying to attack but It was the wrong choice” we can forgive you but if the answer is “I don’t know” you have committed a tennis crime!
You’ve been warned….. We are watching you !!!!!
The Second Serve
Hi everyone and welcome to our Blog. If you have been on one of our tennis holidays you will have heard our coaches mention the dreaded ‘tennis crimes’! There are a few simple reminders that can help us all in our quest for a more consistent game. The first one we are going to talk about is the 2nd serve.
[quote align=”center” color=”#999999″]”you’re only as good as your second serve”[/quote]
As the old saying goes “you’re only as good as your second serve”. If it’s weak it’s a huge opportunity for your opponent to feast upon it. Throw in a few double faults and you’re in big trouble. A solid, dependable second serve can get you out of tough situations and can even cause problems for opponents. A truly reliable second serve can allow you to enjoy the freedom of a fully aggressive first serve knowing that the trusty second serve is a rock solid back up. It really is a crucial area and the percentage of points won on the 2nd serve is a massive indicator of the match result.
So let’s look at the crime being committed all too often on our tennis holidays. Firstly the second serve going in the net – it’s a lock up and throw away the key crime! Good flight over the net married with good spin can cause your opponent damage without risking the net. There is simply very little benefit to hitting it low over the net on a second serve – it’s an extremely high-risk strategy with a relatively low percentage reward. As tennis players on the quest for consistency, we are searching out situations where we can achieve low risk-high reward scenarios. The second serve is one such scenario.[divider scroll_text=””]
The stats don’t lie…. While none of the ‘big 4’ occupy the top 4 places in first serve percentage points won, they dominate the second serve percentage points won with Novak out in front. The Djokovic machine rarely makes unforced errors and many coaches and experts alike believe the key to Novak’s success is his second serve.
A good second serve is almost always a spin serve. It just gives you many more options and keeps your opponent guessing – the same way Sampras kept his opponents guessing. We must practice it guys – we now know how important this part of the game is. There is no need to be weak at the knees, trembling with every bounce of the ball – however do not neglect this area in your practice.
Practice hitting targets with a good margin for error. Can you hit a second serve and make the second bounce go outside the court ? Maybe play a practice match or two only giving yourself one serve !
So…. Remember, the second serve is not our enemy it can be a great friend. Be aggressive but be aggressive with flight and spin !! If you’re on one of our holidays and we catch you hitting the net on the second serve you can expect a timely reminder that you are committing one of our most serious tennis crimes !!!!
All the tennis coaches on the Active Away tennis holidays have been instructed to have their eyes on your second serves!
You’ve been warned….. We are watching you !!!!!
Active Away Blog March – Flying Travel Tips!
I’m currently onboard an Easyjet flight to Sofia – heading out to Bansko for our Skiing weeks. After many years of flying, both long and short haul, I’ve found there’s certain things I do to help make my journey a little easier, and wanted to share those with you.
Flying has definitely become far less glamorous than in say the 70’s or 80’s with the general consensus of Airlines being ‘low cost, ontime, no frills.’ This allows much more of the population to venture abroad than before, something that I believe is fantastic!
I’ve outlined 10 of my ‘top flying travel tips’ below…
1) Purchase a ‘1 Size Fits All’ carry on bag!
Many airlines (including BA) offer ‘hand baggage only fares.’ This means that when booking, the price excludes a check in bag/suitcase (normally around 20kg) and you will be charged extra for this. Fortunately when travelling with Active Away, this is included in the price of your holiday! However if you are flying short haul quite a lot, you can take advantages of some cheap fares by packing everything you need in your carry on bag and saves you paying for a bag which is normally around £50.
N.B. Buy a carry on that can be accepted in by all Airlines – sizes do differ from Airline to Airline, I would personally recommend the: Stratic Suitcase Agravic, which is currently able to fit in every hand baggage allowence.
2) Check in Online
An obvious one that will save you time at the airport is to check in online. All you require is your ‘booking reference number’ and surname, enter these on the airlines website and simply follow the steps. Some airlines, for example Easyjet require you to check in online before you travel.
3) Mobile Boarding Passes
I love my iPhone, and am a big Apple geek, and keep discovering it’s capabilities! With the latest iPhone software, inbuilt is an app called ‘Passbook’ which allows you to save your boarding pass to your phone. I hate being unorganized and having loads of paper in my pockets. Most airlines now offer a service whereby you can download your boarding pass to your phone, and simply use that at the airport to scan and board with. I find it really handy, as I have actually ended up loaing my boarding card before, and you can also keep a record of your trips!
4) Give yourself time!
I find airports intriguing and also strangely productive. I don’t like to be rushed, so tend to give myself time to grab a coffee and do some work on the laptop. You may find there are long queues at security or at the check in desk, so allow for this!
5) Use public transport to get to the airport!
Most airports in Britain now have a pretty good transport link to the nearest city. With parking prices consistently increasing, I find travelling to the airport on the train a very relaxing and cheap experience. I ‘persuade’ a family member/friend to provide a 10 minute drive to Sheffield train station, where I can catch my train directly to Manchester Airport, all for £17.50 return, with a reserved seat and no stress of driving!
6) Join the Rewards Club/Airmiles
I tend to travel on British Airways and Emirates fairly regularly and am a member of both of their rewards schemes (free to join). Everytime you travel just remember to claim your miles, and before you know it you’ll have a free upgrade! British Airways is known as one of the most generous rewards schemes with their ‘Avios’ system.
7) Ask the question + Be polite!
Being 6 foot 2, sometimes it’s nice to have a little extra legroom on the flight! I always speak to the person at the check in counter and see if they have extra legroom available (for free). I would guesstimate the success rate to be around 50% and has provided me with a little more comfort! Ask the cabin crew again when you are on the plane, as if the extra leg room seats aren’t sold they will often tell you that you are able to take the seat after takeoff.
The amount of times I’ve seen customers be rude to try and get around a situation (delays/cancellation/seat change etc) astonishes me. The chances are you aren’t going to change things anyway, so being rude is going to get you nowhere!
8) Bring Entertainment!
Yes, if you are travelling on your own, flights can be monotonous and boring, so do bring some kind of multimedia device. Ipads/Mp3 players/Laptops can save you from boredom! Alternatively if you are travelling with friends discuss your upcoming trip!
Accept that you will pay more! I like to eat well before I get to the Airport, as I know that the chances are if I find I require a snack I end up out of pocket!
My personal highlights were paying £3.50 for a bottle of water in Amsterdam Airport, and a slice of Pizza at Dalaman Airport for £8.00!
10) Airport Security
This is a point of frustration for me – I’m the person that always gets their bag searched and gets frisked!
Be prepared – you know you have to take your laptop out of your bag, your belt off, and your coat/jacket off – so do it before you get to the desk! If everyone was to do this, Airport security would move a lot faster (even if they do frisk me!)
I hope you enjoyed my tips!
If you have any questions please feel free to email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Look forward to seeing you on a flight soon!
How do you choose the right tennis racket? For many tennis players, including myself choosing a tennis racket can be a difficult and daunting task.
There are many things to consider, brands, head sizes, weight, string pattern, balance, and many more! One of the most common questions I get when I’m on court coaching is ‘What do you think of this racket?’
Racket manufacturers such as; Babolat, Wilson, Head, Prince and Dunlop offer power-oriented rackets.
Option 1: Short Length Swing/Beginner/Power
These rackets usually have a larger than average head size (the average being around 100in²), these rackets being 110in² or larger, and are described as ‘oversize’.
- Length – The length of the racket is normally 27 inches, with some being slightly longer (28 inches max).
- Balance – They are balanced head heavy or evenly balanced, to allow enough weight to travel through the contact zone.
- Weight – Weight wise they are normally less than 280 grams, meaning that they do not put too much stress on the joints.
These rackets are perfect for players who have shorter, slower swings and want a racket that is going to generate power easily for them.
A great example of a power-oriented racket is the ‘Head Graphene PWR Prestige’ which can be viewed here
Option 2: Medium Length Swing/Intermediate/Blend of Power + Control
There are many options for rackets that offer a mixture of features from a Power focused tennis rackets and a Control focused tennis rackets. This type of racket will normally have an average sized head size – around 95 to 102in², and are described as ‘midplus’.
- Length – The length of the racket is 27 inches.
- Balance – These rackets are balanced anywhere from slightly head-light to slightly head-heavy.
- Weight – For the weight they are somewhere between 285 – 310 grams, with the average weight for a tennis racket being around 295 grams.
This type of tennis racket is ideal for players who have a medium length/speed swing, and are looking to choose a tennis racket that is versatile in all areas. They appeal most to intermediate/advanced tennis players.
A great example of a Intermediate/Advanced tennis players racket is the ‘Head Youtek Extreme Midplus’ which can be viewed here
Option 3: Longer Length Swing/Advanced/Control
This brings us too the rackets that are designed for the advanced players. These ‘weapons’ will have a smaller head size – around 90 to 98in² and sometimes have ‘tour’ after the name of the racket.
- Length – The length of the racket is normally 27 inches, with some being slightly longer (28 inches max).
- Balance – The frames of the racket are usually thinner, and are balanced head light, which means the racket will not be particularly powerful for someone with a slow swing.
- Weight – These tennis rackets are usually 300-330 grams
This racket is perfect for someone who has a fast swing and generates power very easily.
A great example of a Advanced players racket is the ‘Head Graphene Speed Pro’ which can be viewed here
Grip sizes: This is a really difficult subject to get right as it does come down a little to personal preference.
Here is my guide for you below with a list of grip sizes:
L0 | L1 | L2 | L3 | L4 | L5
In general ladies should choose grip sizes L1 + L2. Men should pick, grip sizes L2 or L3 with a maximum of L4 for those of you with extra large hands! My personal preference is L2 with an overgrip. It’s always best to go for a smaller grip size, and then use an overgrip, as these are easy to replace. The grip size is the most important part of the racket, mainly because if your grip is too big you are unable to get your hand round the racket and feel the ball properly.
I hope you enjoyed this blog, and when you are purchasing your next racket, if you require any more advice, please email: email@example.com and I would be happy to help.
Why not try a few of our demo rackets on one of our tennis holidays!
Active Away are specialised tour operator, we organise group tennis holidays to exclusive 4 & 5 star resorts, where you can meet new people, make new friends, share your great experiences whilst having lots of fun. Active away tennis holidays are suitable for everyone.