As 2024 travel plans begin to coalesce—and, to be clear, this is in no way intended to make you stress out about not having 2024 travel plans yet—but maybe you should start thinking about it, you know?—we at Racquet want to make sure you include tennis in your calculations. To that end, we’ve asked contributors and some of our favorite rec players for their opinions on the best courts and how to make the most of them.
Tell us about the most visually stunning tennis courts you’ve ever seen:
Wendy Laird, editor and frequent Racquet contributor: This is a difficult question. My fondest memories of tennis on a beautiful court are dependent on my knowing where I was at the time. Playing in Civenna, above Lake Como, was wonderful, but the view from the court itself was minimal. However I knew the lake and the mountains were right there and so I remember it as gorgeous. The same goes for the court at Chateau de Queynac in Limeuil, France. The tennis court was down a gravel trail, past donkeys and a little tower ruin. No view to speak of, but it was all ours for a week and the location was spectacular. And, hey, donkeys.
“Stunning” need not always equal “pristine,” either: Friends have a court at their house in Tuscany. It’s gradually being subsumed by ivy, and there are cracks in the surface, but it’s surrounded by olive groves and there’s a tiny fire pit next to it so we can warm up between games if it’s chilly. My god it’s delightful.
Image: courtesy Seattle Tennis Club
As far as the actual view from a tennis court goes, Courts 4, 8 and 10 at the Seattle Tennis Club are the not-so-poor man’s Monte Carlo Country Club. STC sits right on Lake Washington, with a commanding view of Mount Rainier. Procure an invitation if you can.
Adam Borak, founder of the Tipsy Tennis Pod and NetPost Sports: The most visually stunning tennis court I’ve seen is at Zayed Sports City, where they host the Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open. There’s this sharp teal color around the courts that contrasts with the palm trees–not to mention the desert air. Having the giant Abu Dhabi letters on the court was also pretty dope.
Lidingö Tennisklubb in Stockholm is also a contender: The court looks like it’s in an airplane hangar, with a balcony and cafe overlooking it. It has super high ceilings, and just looks like it was made for a studio set.
Image: courtesy Lidingö Tennisklubb
Ynna Kutney, a speech-language pathologist from Seattle: The Most visually stunning I’ve encountered were in Sea Ranch, California. There are a few courts in the community and the backdrop of the mountains, ocean, and hybrid modernist architecture is unlike any place I’ve ever played. What’s great about the courts is they’re located in a community area that has a pool and sauna, so after a casual match or hitting session, you can relax with a swim and sweat. If you’re still craving movement, the hiking trails within Sea Ranch are easily accessible and make for great meandering walks featuring the iconic wooden homes.
Caitlin Thompson, founder of Racquet:
Some of the most barren but beautiful courts I’ve seen are in the middle of the Baja desert at Pescadero Tennis Club outside of Todos Santos, Mexico, which has nothing for miles around it except saguaros and birds of prey circling for shanked balls. Then there are the gorgeous green grass carpet courts at La Samanna, a Belmond property in Saint Martin, just steps from one of the most sumptuous Caribbean beaches you’ve ever seen—the whole thing is one big visual feast.
Image: courtesy La Samanna
Colin Nagy, writer and strategist based in L.A.: I once had an otherworldly hit with a coach at Passalacqua’s clay courts on Lake Como. The entire hotel is straight out of a Bond film, and the red clay tennis court is perched on the side of a hill overlooking the lake. The hotel’s elegant older sister, the Grand Hotel Tremezzo, also has a similarly glorious court. Both properties are stewarded by the wonderful hotelier Valentina De Santis. And hitting in such inspiring settings makes you happy to be a human on earth.
Krista Villatoro, student at UCLA and the school’s first adaptive collegiate athlete: I keep thinking of the Malibu Racquet Club. I do not currently have a membership there because I’m not a billionaire, but sometimes I do homework in their cafe and watch really good tennis, and then I order a lox bagel and feel like at least a millionaire.
Image: West Hollywood Library courts courtesy City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks
What are the most unusual courts you’ve encountered?
KV: The most unusual courts I’ve played on are the West Hollywood library courts. It’s cool to be up on the roof with the WeHo locals, but it feels a little crammed – especially as a chair player.
CN: I am a mega fan of Singita’s properties in Africa. And they used to have a tennis court at an earlier incarnation of Singita Sabora. The court was on the floor of the Serengeti. So, in theory, you could play tennis in the middle of the Great Migration. If that isn’t unusual I don’t know what is. They also have a slightly safer option at Singita Sasakwa, which has a grand, sweeping view of the Serengeti; I distinctly remember being interrupted by a curious giraffe munching on tree leaves while walking from the court after a hit.
WL: Highway 89, where it runs past Thronson’s Motel and General Store in Babb, Montana. When you have kids who play serious tennis, you—and they—think they must play every day, no matter where you are. This is not true, but we didn’t know that. So when we visited Glacier National Park, and spent a night in Babb, the kids played tennis on the shoulder of a (fairly quiet) highway.
AB: The most unusual courts have to be at the University of Philippines Diliman Tennis Center, where they have shell courts! The entire place is not what you expect from a tennis center but at the same time it’s exactly what you expect in a place like the Philippines. Shell courts are for members only; they have hard courts too, and court rentals come with a ballboy.
Image: courtesy Adam Borak
After we’ve roundly beaten our opponents, how should we recover?
David Chen, GLTA World Champion, mixed doubles: The GLTA tournaments I play in are always on a budget, since they don’t have major sponsors, but what comes to mind is one in Pula, Croatia last year. The tennis courts were right above the beach. After every match I would walk down to the beach and cool down in the Adriatic Sea. It’s the most refreshing and picturesque recovery anyone can ask for.
CN: I’m big into IVs for recovery, especially after long-haul flights or any endurance activity. I like to up the glutathione, and occasionally dabble with NAD, though it can be a bit unpleasant. I’ve also come to be a great believer in Normatec compression boots, and the small, portable Theragun (coupled with a decidedly old-school lacrosse ball) in the kit bag.
AB: My favorite recovery is actually super simple: Nothing beats a cold beer and a cold shower. The beer takes the edge off after an intense session, and the cold shower wakes you up and feels so refreshing. Massage is great when it’s affordable; a two-hour Thai massage is about $45 in Manila and when I went, the massage therapist broke me and put me back together.
CT: I love gadgets—and like Temple Grandin, I love being squeezed—so naturally I am a massive fan of all of the HyperIce Normatec recovery options. Since I can’t bring my giant booties on the plane (seriously, I’d need one of Carlitos’ giant Louis Vuitton steamship luggage trophy cases to fit ‘em), I pack my little Portable Gos in my tennis bag. That and a dip in cold salt water, when available, is god-tier recovery.
WL: I love Aesop’s Avail Body Lotion with Sunscreen. I keep it on ice by the court. The cold lotion—and the spearmint leaf scent—makes it a treat to reapply during or after a match. I also keep a Missoni hand towel in my bag. It’s colorful, it’s soft, it’s absorbent and it’s better than my opponent’s “Live Laugh Love” atrocity. Oh, and always, always Nuun tablets in water for hydration during and after I play.
KV: My recovery right now looks like a Celsius energy drink and a vanilla Honey Stinger waffle. The waffle’s kinda retro, and I’m honestly surprised they’re still in business, but I’m so glad they are. I’ve been eating these since I was like 12.
Image: courtesy Sensei Rancho Mirage
Where should we go next with our racquets?
CN: I was blown away by Sensei’s tennis program in Rancho Mirage. It was formerly Larry Ellison’s property for friends and family during the BNP Paribas tournament in Indian Wells. Everything—from the food, to the landscaping, to the environs—was pitch-perfect. The courts are great, the instruction is pro, and they have incredible mobility workshops as well as athlete-centric massages. A few days there feels like a week away, and I heartily endorse it.
I am also crazy for the courts and general vibe at the Park Hyatt Dubai. Federer can sometimes be seen hitting there, and it is a bright, beautiful and optimistic part of the world, nestled right on a creek with a lot of green space and lush landscaping. Make it a point to go check it out next time you’re headed through Dubai.
CT: A few years ago, I had the chance to visit Tatoï Club, high in the hills above Athens – set in a cypress grove and the kind of place where they make their own honey and grow hydroponic vegetables while also training elite pros. Not only were the red clay courts magnificent (and magnificently maintained), but they were also abutted by lavender groves, which made the whole thing smell otherworldly. It’s must visit while you’re stopping into the city on your way to the Cyclades.
Image: Royal Marrakech Tennis Club by Hicham Gardaf
WL: I can’t recommend Marrakech enough. Specifically El-Fenn, a riad in the medina, with a supercool rooftop bar overlooking the Koutoubia Mosque. There is no room in the medina for a tennis court, but that’s ok because the kind people at El-Fenn will book you a court at one of the clubs on the outskirts of town, so you can play with a view of the Atlas Mountains and be back in time to catch the call to prayer at sunset.
I’m also shouting-out the polar opposite: Scotland. It’s not sunny. It’s not warm. Most people, if they’re packing sporting equipment for a trip to Scotland, are thinking in golf-bag shapes. But the same dramatic, windswept splendor that draws golfers from across the globe can be enjoyed on a tennis court, too. I’ve played tennis in Scotland many times, mostly on carpet, and it’s always been worth the room my racquet takes up in my luggage.
Top Image: Courts at La Mamounia Hotel in Morrocco captured in Racquet Issue No. 13 by Hicham Gardaf