Active Away 2018 Highlights

Active Away Tennis Holidays Blog: 2018 Highlights

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.


Daphnila Bay

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?


Lyttos Beach

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!


Kalimera Kriti

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!

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Active Away Tennis Blog: Corporate Launch

This Wednesday marked an important date in the Active Away diary for several reasons. Firstly, it was the launch of our Corporate Tennis Events, an occasion attended by a variety of highly regarded figures from a wealth of professional backgrounds. Secondly, the launch coincided with our filming with the BBC for Pitches to Riches, their popular follow up show to Dragons Den. The day began with a light brunch and a chance to get to know everyone before guests were treated to a hilarious performance by impressionist Josh Berry, who served up impersonations of Federer, McEnroe, Murray and more! With everyone here and in good spirits, it was time to hit some balls and all the guests made their way to the courts for a fast paced morning session focusing on doubles gameplay and tactics led by Josh, Charlie and Sean. As always, the team brought a fantastic energy to court and it was great to see so many smiles and such a positive atmosphere as everyone really bought into the session. For Steve and Matt, the morning began with an interview in front of the cameras, discussing Active Away and the progress the company has made since its Dragons Den appearance. After this, the BBC wanted some on court action shots and with this being the follow up show to Dragons Den, what better way to do this than set up a doubles match between Steve and Matt and Dragon investor Peter Jones and his son, Will. A personal highlight of my day was watching this doubles match as not only was it really interesting watching the BBC at work courtside but it was also nice to see Peter and his son having such a great time on court and experiencing what Active Away is all about. Just before we broke for lunch, Peter addressed the group thanking everyone for attending before introducing Josh as a new director of the company and giving credit to the hard work of the team behind the scenes. It was then time for a well-earned bite to eat and Virgin Active Riverside Chiswick laid on a superb lunch of healthy nibbles and refreshments for those in attendance. The lunch also allowed chance for those in attendance to have some time to get to know each other and network amongst the group. Active Away prides itself on the social aspect of these occasions and our Corporate Launch was no exception with the team having chance to catch up with familiar faces as well as becoming familiar with some of the newer ones in attendance. After lunch, everyone gathered round and listened as the teams were read out for the afternoon’s Pro AM tournament. Guests were organised into teams with a selection of famous names from the tennis world such as Dom Inglot, Marcus Willis, Greg Whitecross and Matt Short all playing in and captaining teams. With timed, quick-fire rounds and sudden death deuces aplenty, the tournament made for enjoyable watching and the banter flew as our guests battled away alongside and against players they’d more often than not only seen on the TV. Following on from 5 rounds of exciting matches, it was time to find out the winners and for the presentation to begin. After some closely contested matches, Matt’s Moroccans were eventually crowned victorious and each were presented with trophies by Josh in front of the assembled guests and BBC cameras. With that done, there was time for Steve to say a few words of thanks and to present each guest with a goodie bag before it was time to wrap up Active Away’s first ever corporate day! All in all the day was a total success and I think I speak for all of the Active Away team when I say we can’t wait until our next Corporate Tennis Event. Catch us on the new series of Pitches to Riches!
The hot seat header

Active Away Tennis Holidays Blog: Guide to Improving Your Doubles Part 12

Did you manage to read part 11 last week? We looked at improving you impact on the game from the servers partners perspective. I had some great feedback from that blog post. If you haven’t read it yet, click here to have a read.
In this part we are going to look at the hot seat, you are in the hot seat when you are the returners partner. I have coached so many people who almost seem like they feel this is a position they can have a little rest as they don’t really get to see much of the ball. In this blog I am going to give you a few simple tips that I promise will make a huge difference to you.
Here is the scene, your tennis partner is ready to return serve. You are correctly in the hot seat, but where are you standing? Who are you facing? Boom, while you were thinking your opposition fires their volley past you down the middle of the court. I am guessing we have all felt this at one time or another. I am going to answer these questions and if you go out and put these answers in to practise you will notice an immediate improvement in your doubles:
  1. 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.
  2. 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).
  3. 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!

the danger player header

Active Away Tennis Holidays Blog: Guide to Improving Your Doubles Part 11

Did you manage to read part 10 last? We looked at improving your smash, I had some great feedback from that blog post. If you haven’t read it yet, click here to have a read.

In this post we are going to look at the player who is the servers partner. Picture the scene, your partner is ready to hit their first serve. You are correctly The Danger Player, as you are the first person that can have a real impact on the point (depending on how good your partners serve is). But where are you standing? Who are you focused on? What are you thinking about doing? Where are you aiming? Three questions that we are going to work through the answers to.

  1. Where are you standing? There are two elements to this answer, how far up the court are you and how far in to the court are you. There is no absolute hard and fast rule about where you should be as this will depend on how offensive your partners serve is and how athletic you are. There are however a couple of principles you can follow.
    • In terms how wide you stand the simple rule is you need to be able to cover the trams in one step. At a professional level they probably stand with their outside foot in the middle of the service box, they can get away from this as they read the game fast and incredibly athletic.
    • How far up, as a general rule I would suggest being approx half way up the service box
  2. Who are you focused on? The key player for you here is obviously the returner. Focus all of your concentration on them, make sure you are facing them with an aim to try to intercept the return.
  3. What do you want to do? Your goal is to intercept their return. If they have not once hit down your line you should feel quite free to intercept the return, they might not even be able to hit down the line – ask them this question. Don’t feel like you need to run across the entire court, just ensure that when you move, you move diagonally forward cutting down the angle, you will not need to cross the centre line to intercept effectively.
  4. Where are you aiming? This is simple if you intercept and you make contact with the ball above the height of the net you aim at the shoe laces of your opponent. If the ball is below net height do you best to control the volley back to the baseline. These rules are set – use them and this will make a huge difference to your game.

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!

Tips for playing tennis on grass

Active Away Tennis Holidays Blog: Grass Court Tips

The first thing to know about grass courts is that they’re fast – much faster than clay and hard courts.

When the ball hits the surface, blades of grass are flattened and the ball skids off the court fast and low.

By late summer, when the grass has been worn down, you’ll also find the bounce is very unpredictable.


Big servers have always been successful at Wimbledon with the ball flying off the surface. And those who have mixed it up with a solid volley have won many titles at SW19.

Serve-and-volley play works for a number of reasons:

  • it keeps the ball off the ground so you avoid unpredictable bounces
  • fast serves are made faster because the ball skids off the court

You should also develop a good sliced backhand since the ball stays lower to the ground.

But it’s not true that only serve-and-volley players prosper – in fact, on the tour there are few serve-and-volleyers left.

Baseline players need to think about ending points quickly as well – if you’re a slogger, it’s important to work on hitting powerful winners and aiming down the line.

IMprove Your Smash

Active Away Tennis Holidays Blog: Guide to Improving Your Doubles Part 10

Did you manage to read part 9 last week based on improving your volley technique, I had some great feedback from that blog post. If you haven’t read it yet, click here to have a read.

In the part we are going to look at simple ways to improve your smash, specifically at the arm movement. As a doubles player, the smash is an essential weapon in your arsenal since you are looking to spend the majority of your time at the net and closing the net down.

Essential Elements

The key to improving your overhead is understanding, learning, and practising a three essential elements:

  1. Unit turn
  2. Movement (footwork)
  3. The arm swing

In this blog will will focus on the arm movement.

Before I start discussing the arm moevment, I want to stress the necessity to learn and to use the continental grip around the net, on the serve, and on the overhead. The continental grip, along with a good unit turn as described next, is what allows greater racket acceleration and, therefore, ball speed.

The arm swing

The first step to creating a great arm swing, as in all the shots, it is creating the turn position with your feet and torso as described in part 8.

The second step is getting to the tick or trophy position. There are a 2 ways to do this:

  1. The racket drop. The racket falls along the side of the torso with the tip pointing more or less straight down at the court, then swings up like a pendulum in to a tick position creating a lot of momentum.
  2. The abbreviated takeback. Just like on Rafa’s serve the racket doesn’t drop instead it comes straight to the tick/trophy position

You can use either of these methods but bear in mind if you don’t have much time option 2 would be used.

The third step is the swing to contact. The simplest way to think of this is think as though you are throwing your racket at the ball., if you over think this and break it down in to too much detail you will struggle. If you have a correct relaxed service motion, you shouldn’t have to think about all this too much and it will probably happen naturally.

A simple way to improve this motion is to practise throwing, (as a guide you should be to be able to throw the ball from the baseline to at least the service line on the other side), if you cant do this then practise, if you can do this you should be able to generate good racket speed.

Overall, what makes the overhead difficult is the ability to move in position with the proper turn position. The unit turn and the movement, I believe, are the two areas where the average player needs to focus. The arm swing is important, but as your serve arm swing improves in this area so will your overhead swing. As I mentioned above, conquering the ability to do the cross steps as you initiate the turn will go a long way in making the overhead the best part of your game.

The Overhead Game

There is a great live ball overhead drill that I have used many years with my high school doubles teams to work on implementing the overhead in matches.

One team is back at the baseline and one team is at the net. Your coach or one of the back players starts the point by lobbing to the net players. The lob feed should not be too tough or too easy. The net players cannot let the ball bounce either on the lob or the volleys.

After the lob is hit, the point is live. The baseline players can do anything they want — lob, hit, go to the net, etc.

First team to five points wins, then everyone rotates (clockwise) one position and the game starts again. Rotating the positions gives the players practice from both halves of the court, which is important because of the differences in the angles.

This drill is a great way to just get completely comfortable with hitting overheads everywhere on the court. Even if you are a singles player, it gives you the repetitions and the variety of movement and positions on the court that you need.

If you haven’t really developed an overhead, this game can be difficult at first because so many of the overheads are hit while moving back. Overall, though, it’s the best way I know of to develop those critical cross steps. You’ll know you are getting better when the team hitting the overheads starts to win the majority of the games.

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!

Tennis Crimes

Active Away Tennis Holidays Blog : Tennis Crimes part 5


Hi everyone and welcome to part 5 of our tennis crimes series, todays crime is again one we see all the time on our tennis holidays and focuses within the doubles game and really highlights the importance of communication.

So here’s the scenario, you and your doubles partner have attacked the net. Your approach wasn’t fantastic and your tactically astute opponents have been able to guide the ball accurately down the middle causing confusion and disarray between you and your partner… and here comes the crime, both players shout “yours” and the ball sails down the middle of the court for an easy winner with both players unhappy at their partners lack of assertiveness.





So ask yourself these questions:

  1. What does your ready position look like?

  2. 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.

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