My Tennis Travels
By Linda Friedlander
Bermuda’s Coral Beach & Tennis Club gave me the initial taste of luxury. For several years, my husband and I would go to compete in the March Super Senior Invitationals (starting at age 40 only). Singles and dubs were offered for both genders along with Century Mixed Dubs, i.e. combined ages greater than 100. We had a cottage where a maid arrived each morning to cook our breakfast. It took me one bite to adjust to this practice. The Club now sponsors a nice Cat 2 tournament in April, which a few members have written about.
Another fun, out-of-country experience was the June 2014 Mont Tremblant Cup, an ITF Senior event for US and Canadian players. Knowing my proximity to the site and my proclivity to say “Yes”, my San Diego friend Roz King, asked me to play for the US. Cap Tremblant, the official hotel, offered us a multi-bedroom suite for a fraction of the price charged during ski season. Our American team was together for a 5-day slumber party punctuated with matches, dinners out, wake-up yoga led by Burnett Herrick and much laughter.
In 2013, I was truly spoiled in the beautiful Wertzer’s Hotel and Resort in Portschach, Austria, thanks to Ralph and Mary Wilson. They established the Wilson Friendship Cup, which you can only apply for once you reach 75. The hotel, gardens and tennis courts overlook Lake Wertzersee to the sharp mountains of Italy on the west and Yugoslavia to the east. Sunsets were spectacular... when I could be pried from the bar. I roomed with the late Pat Jackson and, among giggles, we found we had both spent two years in Germany in our 20s running recreational clubs for American GIs. My German was only a touch better than hers, but nightly she would call the front desk for a wake-up call and finish with, “Schlafen Sie gut.” I would repeatedly tell her that the night clerk was not supposed to sleep on duty but she still continued to say it to my amusement. She was a hoot and I miss her!
I recently came across Elite Tennis Travel, an agency out of Westchester County, NY. For several years I had simply deleted all emails about enticing trips planned by ETT. My husband was failing, I was leaving a total of 5 weeks a year already for tournaments and simply could not justify an extra absence. As always, life changes. Now a widow, why not try Cuba about which I have always been curious?
The trip offered morning tennis with the Cuban National Team and afternoon/evenings of cultural events and fine dining. ETT owner and guide Adriana Isaza-Mohring, originally from Colombia, S.A., hired an additional, charming Cuban fellow to deepen our understanding of this fascinating country.
We stayed at Hostal Balear, a lovely residential home in which the absent owners left their kitchen/serving/cleaning staff to take excellent care of us.
I remember the unique way our group started the day around a large family table where each of us could order our own style of eggs. I had the hardship of having to walk out of my private suite on a lower level to a floral, shared patio, up a flight of stairs to the dining room. We often gathered on the covered front porch overlooking a quiet street for cocktails or before taking a morning van to various destinations, expanding our knowledge of Havana.
This second time with Elite Travel was to Monte Carlo, equally spectacular and highlighted by watching some of the best players in the world in the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters (see photo above). On the edge of our good seats (close to the players), we saw our favorite Rafael Nadal succumb to Italy’s Fabio Fognini in the semis. The Italian continued his steady surge as champion to beat Dusan Lajovic, one of Djokovic’s fellow Serbians, who we had watched beat Lorenzo Sonego on his side of the draw.
We stayed in the 5-star, Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel where one of my big treats was having breakfast on a terrace overlooking the Cote d’Azure of the French Riviera...closest to Heaven this writer will ever get! Also at our hotel or on the courts were Medvedev, Coric, Wawrinka, Cecchinato, Tsitsipas and American Taylor Fritz who had wins over Tsonga and Schwartzman before falling to Djokovic in the third round. Prince Albert of Monaco attended in the royal box one day.
The Grande Nuit du Tennis Gala was a 5-course food and wine affair where our group had a round table where we could ogle the celebrities like school children. …A variety of professional entertainment ensued on an elevated stage. As guests entered la Salle des Etoiles, a camera caught them to project their images on screens for all to witness. Another surprise: at one point the roof slowly and dramatically receded, revealing stars and a full moon above.
Earlier that week, thanks to Adriana’s connections, we were invited to join the Count of Villeneuve for an optional cocktail/dinner at the Yacht Club. We did pay extra for this. As you may have guessed, if you are on a tight budget, ETT is not for you. As far as “Bang for your Buck” or let’s rephrase to “Excitement for your Euro” is concerned, however, Elite Tennis Travel gives maximum value, not to mention fun.
Rolex Monte-Carlo Tournament Site