Giving back. Doing our part for those less fortunate during Turkeys earthquake disaster.
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]
I 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]
What 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]
Just 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!
My 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!
- Where are you standing when you are the returners partner? You should be on the service line next to the T, almost in the centre of the court. The reason for this is that you are plugging the gap that the “Danger Player” (we discussed this in the previous blog) wants to hit in to, this is the easiest place for them to hit their volley. You stand here to give yourself half a chance of scraping that ball back but also to put them off a little, give them something else to think about.
- Where are you facing? You should have your hips, shoulders and eyes facing the “danger player” that player is your primary concern. Turn your body to face them, whatever you do, do not turn and look at your partner as they hit their return (this is hospital tennis).
- When you start in this position you are in a defensive position and this is where most recreational level players stay. I see very little movement from this position. As soon as the return is hit, one of two things are going to happen. Ether your partner hots a good return and fires it back to the server or its a bad return and the volleyer intercepts. As you are now standing in the correct position if the worst case happens and the “danger player” intercepts they can either volley it at you or go for the angle (good luck with the angle, that’s a 3 out of 10 shot). If your partner hits a good return back to the server this is when you need to move forward and become the “danger player”. The “danger player” position switches throughout the entire rally – so sorry there is no rest for you net players.
Time is short on the doubles court, and the person who understands it best has a huge advantage over others.
Tennis Holidays are a great way to make real progressions in your game, it is an intense week of learning new skills in the morning and putting them in to practise in the afternoons. Being able to play for 20 hours in one week means that you can really make changes in your game fast! Our Tennis Holidays our suitable for all levels whether you are a complete beginner through to county level players – everyone is welcome!