I am a tennis travel snob. The kind of person who, when you say, “I’m so excited about my first trip to the French Open with my daughter!” I respond, “I can’t believe they are tearing down the Bullring. We watched Schmitty, I mean Schmiedlova, play an amazing match there. It was kind of annoying because we were so close that every time her ponytail whipped around I got hit by her sweat. And make sure when you get there you head straight to the Suzanne-Lenglen Terrace for Champagne and macarons. It’s weirdly harder to find the booze at Roland Garros than at the U.S. Open.”
And when my Kiest Park teammates would say, “Have you been to Newks’ tennis camp in New Braunfels?” I used to respond, “No, I usually go to Kiawah Island with my wife and my doubles partner for their women’s tennis weekend. It’s an easy drive from Charleston and you can rent an amazing house on the beach. The tennis pros are cute and they wheel out coolers of Copa Di Vino during the round robin.”
Then I went to the John Newcombe Tennis Ranch for our Weekend Getaways feature in the June issue.
Shut. My. Mouth.
You can get the details in the feature (a weekend of drills, shots of bourbon in the Billabong Bar, and singalongs around the campfire for less than $400!). But my most important takeaway was this:
On a sunny Sunday afternoon, shortly after my return from camp, I was in the midst of a mixed doubles fiasco. As pre-tornado winds whipped across the hilltop courts at Greenhill School, I leaned into the weak second serve of my female opponent and attacked, hitting a blistering inside-out forehand back at her feet. I didn’t wait to see where it went; instead, I followed my shot into the net and found myself perfectly positioned for a forehand volley put-away that, for once in my life, I did not take a wild swing at, simply letting the momentum of my body propel the ball right down the middle of the court for a clean winner, just as camp director Chris Jacques had instructed the week before.
Cue stunned applause from my opponents. True story.
If tennis isn’t your thing, don’t worry—we’ve got 9 other drivable destinations for you this summer. But if you’re obsessed with fuzzy yellow balls, go to Newks. If you see me there, I’ll buy you a bourbon.