A holiday in the Caribbean doesn’t have to be all fly and flop. There are dozens of places to play tennis in the Caribbean, from tennis academies to public courts.
The Caribbean’s mix of warm, sunny weather and top-notch resorts have proven popular with discerning tennis players from colder climates, who welcome a change from braving chilly winds and monitoring cloudy skies. Numerous resorts offer incredible facilities, such as tennis academies, racket hire and well-cared-for clay courts. Tennis can be as big, or as small, a part of your Caribbean vacation as you wish, from a fortnight-long break meticulously perfecting your backhand to a venue that offers casual players a selection of bookable courts. Hotels that don’t have facilities on-site will often help to arrange transfer to neighbouring courts for guests keen to grab a game. Many will also pair up out-and-out fanatics with fellow guests as tennis partners for a fierce doubles match – that losers are prepared to buy the after-game cocktails is generally part of the deal.
Some Caribbean islands have invested in public courts, a few of which are playable free-of-charge but may need to be pre-booked via the local authority (it pays to check online for a telephone number so that you can arrange this direct). Several islands play host to numerous tennis tournaments that invite guest entries – there are a large number of tennis associations in the Caribbean and many post their events, medal matches, training sessions and invitationals online.
It is advisable to do everything requiring exertion in the Caribbean in the coolest parts of the day, between daybreak and 10am or after 5pm. Floodlit courts are commonplace, as nighttime is a popular time to play tennis in the Caribbean – on public courses you may be charged for the illumination. Visitors planning on playing will be encouraged to rest, have therapeutic sports massages and enjoy lunch in the hottest hours of the day.
At Antigua’s Curtain Bluff Resort – the host venue of Antigua Tennis Week in both May and December – four fully-lit championship courts are some of the finest in the region. What’s more, this small, select boutique resort is run by folk who truly love tennis. The courts are set in a low-lying valley and are beautifully maintained, while daily tennis clinics promise to pep up a forehand in minutes. There are also nine superb courts at palm-trimmed Carlisle Bay and an enviable array of tennis facilities at the prestigious St James Club, including four hard courts lit for night play.
Jamaica has a strong affinity for tennis and several top-notch resorts offer tennis courts and coaching amenities, including the Half Moon Club in Montego Bay where seven of the thirteen all-weather courts are lit for nighttime play. Guests play free of charge with non-guests charged $40(USD) for a tennis day pass, which includes access to the tennis facilities, pro shop and pro on-site academy. Lessons are available from Half Moon pros from $50(USD) an hour. Also in Montego Bay are the nine hard surface courts at the Tryall Club Jamaica, three of them with floodlights. Guests play free of charge but must pay $20(USD) an hour for nighttime lighting. Non-guests are charged $30(USD) an hour to play (reservations essential). Hour-long lessons start at $40(USD). In Ochos Rios, the Sandals Grande Riviera resort has three clay courts and three hard-surface courts, all of them lit. Formerly part of the Beaches Grand Sport complex, the courts play host to several guest tournaments throughout the year. Guests looking to play tennis here will always play free, whether day or night, while tennis clinics offer one-to-one tuition for players of all skill levels from $30(USD) per person.
In St Lucia, tennis fans are also spoilt for choice at The Landings Tennis Club, where two floodlit courts and an on-site pro offers a dozen hour-long bookable sessions each day (8am-8pm) for both private and group tuition. Guests can use the tennis courts free of charge and hire rackets without charge – with tennis balls sold at $10(USD) per sleeve. Keen to play as a non-guest? No problem – just call and book, the fee is a very reasonable $10.00 per hour.
Upscale tennis is the name of the game in Barbados, where holidaymakers can choose from the David and John Lloyd Tennis Village at Sugar Hill (a trusted name in tennis in the Caribbean), or the swanky floodlight facilities (nine courts) at the star-studded Sandy Lane Hotel. Be prepared to rub shoulders with an A-list roll-call of starlets, sporting celebs and movie moguls on the courts at the latter – guests that have wielded rackets here include Tiger Woods, The Clintons, Cliff Richard, Kate Moss and Simon Cowell.
Virgin Atlantic operates flight to the Caribbean from London Gatwick, making it easy to book your sporting holiday in the sun.
Have you played tennis in the Caribbean? Let us know in the comments section below.