A sun-kissed Greek island proves perfect for some much-needed tennis tuition
My best man and I have this long-running disagreement: tennis or golf – which is the harder sport to learn? Scott played tennis when he was younger and claims it is tougher. As a golfer, I say the latter.
The argument has taken on extra edge as I have just taken up tennis. I have played other racquet sports through my life, but somehow tennis seemed a little too middle class.
The trouble with taking up any sport after your 20s is finding the time to make progress. You have a lesson, feel energised, then struggle to find the time to practise what you have been told.
Next time you play it’s back to square one; or in my case, back to dumping my serve into the net. The answer just might be a tennis holiday where you can play and be coached for several hours a day, day after day.
The result? Genuine improvement.
My name is not down for the championships at SW19 quite yet, but the two weeks I spent at the Mark Warner Lakitira resort in Kos, Greece, this summer – where the coaches analyse your game piece by piece to improve every aspect – have transformed me into Boris Becker-lite. OK, that’s a complete exaggeration but I can hit the ball over the net a few times.
Lakitira is an award-winning, flagship Mark Warner resort and it is easy to see why. With ten courts, floodlights, a state-of-the-art ball machine, daily coaching, social tennis and a tournament at the end of each week there is easily enough to keep every tennis fan contented or provide enjoyment for the casual player. Add in a healthy dose of wall-to-wall sunshine, with daily temperatures in September of 25ºC plus, and you will find a lot of people grinning ear to ear.
Lakitira is situated in four acres on the south-western side of Kos, one of the Dodecanese islands close to Turkey. Many of the rooms have balconies with stunning views across the Aegean Sea to the volcanic island of Gyali, a fabulous way to wake up each morning.
The resort’s not-so-secret formula is that it manages to do a lot of things very well, not just tennis. Otherwise, the place would be crawling with a lot of bored-looking partners.
There are three restaurants (an Italian trattoria, quaint Greek taverna and the main hotel restaurant) four bars, two large swimming pools, a shop, and two separate beaches, one of them adults-only.
There is also a full watersports programme with free use of all the equipment and introductory tuition included in the price of your holiday. My wife spent several mornings windsurfing while I enjoyed some tennis.
Add in five-a-side football, (very competitive) water polo, beach volleyball, table tennis, quiz nights and karaoke and it is no wonder guests are reaching for a pen and paper to plan their schedule.
For many, however, it is the gold-standard childcare that offers the biggest attraction. I lost count of the number of couples who, when asked their favourite thing about the resort, replied immediately: childcare. Available most of the day, there are strict ratios between nannies and children with both indoor and outdoor play. The result is that parents of young children can relax, enjoy the activities, and go to dinner with friends knowing everything is safe and well. For older children, the company offers a lively programme of activities and watersports to keep them occupied.
With so much on offer even on a two-week holiday, many simply don’t feel the need to leave the resort. It’s not cramped, there’s plenty to do and, after a recent refurbishment, the accommodation is top notch with air conditioning, fridge, balcony, comfortable beds and a modern en-suite.
However, delights await those who do venture outside. We hired a beach buggy which was a noisy but fun way to take a day-long spin around the island, including a visit to historic Kos town, where the 15th-century Castle of the Knights tops a list of historic relics that includes Venetian buildings, Roman baths and the Tree of Hippocrates. For a shorter excursion, the lively town of Kardamena is just a few kilometres east of the resort and accessible via bus, taxi or bicycle.
Back on the tennis court, I opted for the Academy Course (£110) which offers four 90-minute group lessons, a private lesson and a session on the ball machine.
Each morning after breakfast, coach Helena David isolated our faults as we went through a structured programme covering all the main strokes. By the end of the week I had mastered (sort of) the two-handed backhand and found much more consistency with my serve. Lots of those on the course were virtual beginners and found great improvement.
While most of the tuition happens in the morning, each evening from 5pm-6pm there is social tennis where guests play doubles in random pairings chosen by the coaches. This is great fun and lives up to the social tag. By the second week we had become friendly with several others and informal matches were arranged in the evenings.
For more serious players, Mark Warner also offers specialist tennis weeks with coaching from former British Davis Cup player Danny Sapsford.
At a group dinner on the final evening, it was clear everyone had had a great time. The best compliment? If John Lewis did holidays, this is what they would be like. Great value, good service, well organised. A smash hit.
As for my best man argument? Well, I still think I’m right. Golf is harder.
For more information on Mark Warner tel: 0844 273 7040 or visit www.markwarner.co.uk
The Lakitira resort in Kos is open between May and October. Flights to Kos are available from London Gatwick on Saturdays and Manchester on Wednesdays. A two-week break at the Lakitira Village resort in Kos during September costs from £2,300, based on two adults sharing on half-board. Offers are available for single travellers during September and October.
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Wednesday 19 June 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 18 C
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