Tennis week in San Agostino
Going on holiday usually means making a lot of decisions. Where are you going to go, what are you going to do, what will the weather be like, where will you stay, what will you eat, what will you pack, and so on and so forth until you're so stressed out that you need a second holiday before you've even started.
And, depending on who you're going with, it also usually means that you have to compromise on something. You're idea of bliss, lazing by a pool with a stack of Jilly Coopers' may be their idea of torture. Their idea of heaven, climbing mountains and trekking and far more exercise than is healthy, may be your idea of hell.
But what if there was a holiday where you could do all of above. And, this is the clincher, change your mind each day of the week?
The San Agostino resort in Greece, run by Mark Warner, is that holiday. There is a beautiful shimmering pool, set next to a stunning beach, so that sun worshippers can have their pick of sun bed. There are three ocean-view restaurants. There are more boats and kayaks and windsurfers on Mark Warner's award-winning waterfront than one would find at Cowes week. Well not quite, but you get the picture. There are several, pristine, tennis courts, and a range of activities from water polo to waterskiing, pilates to beach volleyball. And the best bit? Whatever you do is completely up to you.
Accommodation is in the form of a series of neat bungalows, allowing you to trot or totter along the beach to the main hotel, which is fully stocked with a shop, massage parlour, internet room, and of course, the main restaurant.
The food is plentiful. A buffet of different-themed delicacies each night again allows you to pick and choose what you feel like, and, if you fancy a change, there's a rooftop pizzeria or beachside Moroccan a la carte to choose from.
But there's something else that makes the San Agostino Mark Warner resort that little bit special. They have an annual tennis week, with invited celebrated coaches, and 20 or 30-odd eager participants, willing to slug it out for five hours a day under the blistering Greek sunshine.
Sounds horrible, I know. How will I ever get myself up early enough in time to have breakfast, then play tennis, where will I fit in my swim and beach?I thought I was supposed to be on holiday? Those were just some of the thoughts percolating my brain.
But, I managed it. And I loved it. The team of onsite coaches, captained by the chirpy Dave Edwards, were joined by Danny Sapsford, he of former Wimbledon fame, and Dan Bloxham, he of current Wimbledon fame (he's the head coach of their junior initiative and escorts the players onto court). And there was Rupert North too, the head of Service Line, which provides all of Mark Warner's tennis coaches.
Put simply, it was a riot. Tackling a different technical topic each morning and afternoon, the coaches rotated around the groups, each bringing their own brand of practical magic to help or prevent the good, the bad, and the ugly from occurring on the tennis court, and all in very good humoured fashion.
The sessions may have been long, and, although it was September, it may have been sweltering, but crucially, there were enough of them to really make a difference to each and every individual's game. You may not believe me when I tell you that the players competing in the tournaments at the end of the week were not the best at the start, but it is true.
And it wasn't just about forehands and backhands either. We had tips on court etiquette, titbits on rackets and grips, got to serve a speed gun (I couldn't handle the pressure), and, were even treated to an exhibition match to show just how good you can be.
So if you want a holiday where you can do anything you want to, try out 'San Ag,' as the locals faithfully refer to it. You could even investigate the tennis week too. There's nothing quite like plunging into a pool when you feel like you've really earned it.
By Alexandra Willis
Specialist Tennis Week
Why not join Mark Warner for one of their Specialist Tennis Weeks this year. Mark Warner qualified coaches, plus a couple of pros will be on hand to take guests through their paces for what promises to be the perfect way to take your tennis up a grade.
The course is set over a week, costs ?175 in addition to the holiday and consists of the following; 10 hours group tuition, a private lesson, doubles workshop, test clinic, latest equipment to trial and evening entertainment.
This year, you can join one of the special weeks in San Agostino, Greece on the 25th June
or in Lakitira, Kos, Greece on the 1st October.