Have Racket, Will Journey: Seven Prime Texas Tennis Resorts

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It was a horrible time to go on trip. In two weeks, 200 of our closest family and friends members would descend on Austin, and Alejandro and I nonetheless hadn’t picked out rings, determined whether or not or not we wanted a tent, or written our vows. It was time to get our act collectively. Instead, we packed our rackets, hit the street, and pretended our largest problem lay in determining hit a much bigger forehand.

In our protection, tennis’s international resurgence over the previous two years is of a basically procrastinatory nature. When COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns pressured gyms and yoga studios to shut, open-air tennis courts emerged as one of many few reputable excuses to go away your own home. And for an hour, rallying backwards and forwards, you could possibly overlook about Zoom conferences, Lysol wipes, and spiking an infection charges.

Ale and I had begun taking part in tennis in 2019, hitting on Wednesday nights with one other couple, however through the pandemic we went from taking part in a pair instances per week to every day. Along with the remainder of the nation. According to a 2021 U.S. Tennis Association report, the variety of Americans who play tennis—some 22.6 million—surged by 28 % from 2019 to 2021.

Living in Austin, we have been completely located to fall for the game. Tennis is scorching in Texas. (Like, stupidly scorching. I usually play summer season matches in 100-plus-degree warmth.) But additionally: the game is having a second. The woman Longhorns snatched their second consecutive NCAA tennis championship this May, and Austin beat out different U.S. cities to attain a brand new WTA professional tour occasion, the ATX Open, slated for February 2023. As the legendary Billie Jean King said in a statement, “The addition of the ATX Open . . . will bring world-class tennis to one of the fastest growing markets in the country.” Move over, Wimbledon. Forget strawberries and cream and dainty Pimm’s Cups. Texas goes to show the tennis world tailgate with brisket and beer. 

Ale and I crushed laborious on tennis on the similar time that we fell for one another. It swiftly turned a part of our (forgive the pun) courtship. Still, tensions emerged. Ale was all the time somewhat higher, and after one significantly vexing set, I refused to kiss him again throughout the web. There’s a motive blended doubles known as divorce court docket. Overall, nevertheless, we beloved competing, attempting out drop pictures, topspin serves, and down-the-line backhands. He proposed to me on Valentine’s Day in 2021, through the February freeze, simply earlier than the facility grid failed. 

Fast-forward one yr. We ought to’ve been planning our honeymoon, or responding to the DJ’s more and more pressing emails, however as a substitute I discovered myself Googling “tennis resorts in Texas.” I whooped out loud at my search outcomes, like an outdated oil prospector on the sight of spurting black gold. Tennis-lovin’ Texans, rejoice: we’re downright spoiled with regards to “have racket, will travel” choices. There are resorts for each sort of participant and traveler: a world-renowned “tennis ranch” within the Hill Country, blissfully air-conditioned courts and award-winning spa remedies in Houston and Dallas, and lovely red-clay courts on the shores of Horseshoe Bay.

Each spot comes with its personal set of instructing professionals, tempting environment, and lodging kinds, as distinct in character as the celebs taking part in within the French Open finals as I write this. And to save lots of you from exhaustive analysis when you could possibly be hitting balls or hitting the pool, right here’s a listing of our 5 favorites. (Yes, you rabid pickleballers, we discovered a particular escape for you, too.) May these dreamy locations lure you from no matter try to be getting carried out at house this weekend.

Las Colinas Four Seasons, Irving

Our first cease: Las Colinas Four Seasons, within the Dallas suburb of Irving. With a gleaming marble foyer, wisteria-scented paths twisting by the sprawling property, and state-of-the artwork indoor courts that had been resurfaced simply three days earlier than our go to, tennis had by no means felt so posh. (We are accustomed to taking part in on cracked outside courts, yelling sport scores over the sounds of visitors and a nightly drum circle in Mueller Lake Park.)

That night, after dropping to Alejandro (however acing him with certainly one of my slice serves out broad), we went out in town, justifying our fresh-rigatoni carb-loading at the Charles with the semi-private lesson we’d scheduled for the following morning. (We have been cautious to proceed this dietary program with ache au chocolat on the breakfast buffet, courtesy of the lodge’s nationally lauded pastry chef, Yudith Bustos.) At 10 a.m., in blissful, air-conditioned consolation, beneath the professional eye of professional Noah Lee and lodge tennis director Jerome Millet, we brushed up on our backhands and forehands. Having damaged a light-weight sweat, we agreed it was time to launch all remaining toxins and spent the ultimate scrumptious hours of our Four Seasons escape within the sauna, steam bathtub, and rest rooms on the spa (all free for lodge company).

Tennis lessons at Las Colinas Four Seasons.
Tennis classes at Las Colinas Four Seasons. Don Riddle
The pickleball courts at Sage Hill Inn & Spa.
The pickleball courts at Sage Hill Inn & Spa. Courtesy of Sage Hill Inn & Spa

Sage Hill Inn & Spa, Kyle

We reside in a extremely divided nation. I’m not speaking about politics. I’m speaking about pickleball. Specifically, the place you stand on the “pickleball is a legitimate sport” versus “what are these jokers with fake rackets doing on my tennis court?” debate. Prior to our journey to Sage Hill, Ale and I firmly belonged to the latter camp, reasoning that we appreciated our pickles solely on sandwiches or with pictures of bourbon.

Sage Hill Inn made me a convert. While some tennis resorts are starting to cater to the swelling numbers of pickleball gamers (who communicate of the game with the glazed mien of most cult members) by including a number of devoted courts, Sage Hill Inn has chosen to disregard tennis totally and focus solely on the fermented market.

But if there’s a spot that can urge you to rethink your prejudices, it’s Sage Hill Inn. Breathtaking, pine-scented vistas, creek hikes amid vibrant wildflowers, and nirvana-inducing massages cracked us open like contemporary eggs from the numerous chickens on the property. Our pickleball lesson with veteran tennis and pickleball professional Michelle King swiftly offered us with newfound respect for the game. We have been stunned to study that our errors in pickleball helpfully revealed comparable approach points in tennis, made extra evident on a smaller court docket. After an hour, our thighs have been sore and our egos even sorer. We repaired to the pool, rested within the shade of older and wiser dwell oaks, and determined we’ll problem my dad and mom to a pickleball duel the following time we’re all in Florida.

The outdoor tennis courts at The Houstonian.
The outside tennis courts at The Houstonian. Steve Lee Photography

The Houstonian Hotel, Club & Spa, Houston

We booked our Houston journey for mid-May, two weeks after the marriage. Our company had come and gone, an entire pig was roasted, and your entire factor led to an infinite downpour, with everybody dancing within the rain. We have been official, and we have been formally exhausted. Thank God for the Houstonian and its paradisial vibes, sprawling throughout 27 hushed, wooded acres.

Our suite within the newly renovated wing of the lodge provided floor-to-ceiling home windows that look out on lush subtropical vegetation. “I feel like we’re already in Bali,” Ale mentioned, hinting at our imminent honeymoon. That night time, the resort’s downtown location made it a breeze to zip over to dinner on the luxurious State of Grace, the place we slurped oysters and sipped chenin blanc.

The subsequent morning, we had breakfast at Tribute, the membership’s wonderful restaurant; it was the very best bagel and lox I’ve eaten in Texas. Then we headed to a different (hallelujah!) air-conditioned court docket for a lesson. The subsequent hour concerned probably the most philosophical therapy of tennis I’ve skilled since studying Timothy Gallwey’s cult favourite, The Inner Game of Tennis. Racquet sports activities director Mike May spent a lot of the pandemic rethinking short-circuit the combat/flight/freeze response so frequent to athletes, and reliably keep within the zone throughout play. Alejandro and I emerged from his instruction in an unexpectedly Zen state, which building on the U.S. 290 West trip house promptly demolished.

John Newcombe Tennis Ranch, New Braunfels

Newk’s is the Rafael Nadal of tennis resorts. At 36, Nadal spent this yr’s French Open sweating extra and dealing tougher than any of his youthful opponents, and Newk’s, in its fifty-fourth yr, continues to push its shoppers to the following degree, packing ten hours of tennis instruction into one weekend session. You received’t discover fluffed pillows or a devoted pastry chef. But if hours of drills and level play, summer season camp–type coach-counselors, karaoke events, and beer chugging are your factor, Newk’s is the reply to your tennis prayers.

This time, I gave Ale a hug goodbye and headed to Newk’s with six ladies from my tennis group. It felt like going to Girl Scout camp, besides as a substitute of bug repellent and stationery, I’d packed a pair bottles of pecorino from the marriage stash. On Friday night time, after a lot of the different company had gone to mattress, my mates and I blasted Maggie Rogers and swilled white wine, White Claws, and Gatorade, all whereas taking part in limitless doubles factors beneath the june bug–frenzied lights. By Sunday afternoon, after three straight days of tennis, we have been ridiculously sunburned, however our serves have been wanting sharp, due to the nuanced teaching of grownup programming director Adrian Bolido and his crew. 

Horseshoe Bay Resort
Horseshoe Bay Resort. Courtesy of Horseshoe Bay Resort

Horseshoe Bay Resort, Horseshoe Bay

On Memorial Day, Ale and I headed to the final spot on our checklist, the storied Horseshoe Bay Resort, well-known amongst regional membership gamers for its clay-court tournaments. The spry tennis director, Israel Castillo, who has toured with younger tennis abilities, groomed gamers for the UT tennis group, and coached Lance Armstrong, had agreed to see what he might do for Ale’s backhand and my forehand. Over the previous few months, my wrist had begun hurting; Castillo prompt it had much less to do with my stroke and extra to do with my footwork. If you create a steady base, get the precise distance from the ball, and twist your hips, he insisted, you should utilize your full energy, and the swing takes care of itself. Minds formally blown, Ale and I practiced Castillo’s methodology. After witnessing certainly one of Ale’s improved pictures, Castillo got here as much as us and pointed to his arm. “Look at that,” he says. “Teaching goose bumps.”

After bidding Castillo and his saintly Tibetan terrier, Scholz, goodbye, Ale and I finished at a burger joint in Spicewood. It had been a tricky two months of post-tennis sauna classes in Dallas, spa remedies in Kyle, a post-workout scorching tub in Houston, chilling with my group in New Braunfels, and absorbing a tennis guru’s insights in Horseshoe Bay. After such a grinding tour, we determined that we deserved margaritas and cheeseburgers. Because if there’s something that Texas’s stellar tennis resorts taught us, it’s that enjoyable is best in your sport than any ball machine.

Two More to Try

Since my standards for selecting “tennis resorts” included on-site clinics and coaches in addition to sleeping lodging, I didn’t embrace these two locations on the tour. However, should you’re in search of a super seashore spot to seize a sport along with your touring companions otherwise you occur to be passing by Midland and need a state-of-the-art facility with completed instructors, you’ll need to test these two institutions out.

Royale Beach & Tennis Club, South Padre

Four laborious courts + three swimming swimming pools + beachfront location = pure bliss. No on-site professionals or clinics, so present up with a accomplice if you wish to play.

Bush Tennis Center, Midland

This ever-expanding middle within the High Plains “will be the second largest tennis center in the world” upon its completion, in response to the web site (which additionally contains an lovable YouTube video of George W. endorsing his eponymous establishment). No sleeping lodging, so Airbnb or the close by Holiday Inn are your greatest choices.

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