Looking for a little love-love?
Like the old saying goes, people come here for the winters, but they stay for the summers.
With captivating golf courses, daring bike trails, engulfing kayak whitewater and shimmering mountain scenery, it’s no wonder that Eagle County’s permanent residents feel as though they’re on permanent vacation after the snow dries up and powder days become an afterthought.
The list of things to do here in the summer is long and copious – an impossibly pleasant roster that reads like a fantasy-camp brochure for outdoor junkies.
And, if this were truly summer camp, you’d definitely want to sign up for tennis. Yes, there’s golf. And, more golf. And, fishing. And, hiking and biking.
After a you play a set of tennis, though, on one of the three clay courts at the Vail Racquet Club, nestled under the shadow of the Gore Range with a rushing waterfall sounding in the background, or finish up a set of doubles just in time to catch the sunset and sip a margarita at the Cordillera Valley Club, you’ll soon forget your about your tee time the next morning.
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There’s plenty of tennis to be found in the valley, with opportunities for beginners and experts alike. All you’ve got to do is tighten up your racquet and read on.
Homestead Court Club
As director of tennis Scott Leifer puts it, the Homestead Court Club is, “The epicenter of tennis in the valley.”
Located on Homestead Drive up the hill from the Riverwalk in Edwards, the club boasts two indoor hard courts, four outdoor hard courts and two outdoor clay courts. Also, with five pros in the summer, three tournaments, and a bounty of tennis programs for all levels and ages, it’s hard to find a place that prides itself more on its tennis offerings than the neighborhood club.
“It was really (former tennis director) Brian Hauff’s idea to make Homestead the mecca of tennis in the valley,” Leifer said. “He wanted to bring tennis down here and he did it.”
Hauff passed away this fall, but his legacy still lives on as it is hard to get a court in the summer at Homestead. Leifer estimates there will be at least 100 adults enrolled in tennis programs or leagues this summer, along with as many as 200 kids participating in summer-long programs.
The club offers kids tennis clinics for 4-10 year olds three days a week, along with an advanced players camp on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday for five hours at a time.
The summer adult leagues break down into divisions for beginners, intermediates, and advanced players and there is also a separate program for adults titled, “Cardio Tennis” that runs two days a week.
“We’re going to start on May 22 with a free kids clinic and a barbecue,” said Leifer. “All the summer programs begin on the week of June 7. We’re also doing an adult clinic in June. With these clinics, we’re trying to get more people playing.”
There’s also more. Homestead plays host to three tournaments each summer, two of which are United States Tennis Association-sanctioned events.
The first tournament is a junior open/novice event running from June 25-27 with singles and doubles divisions for 14-and-under and 16-and-under boys and girls, and singles divisions for 10-and-unders and 12-and-unders.
The second tournament is a non-sanctioned club championship on the weekend of July 30, followed by a USTA senior open running from August 20-22.
You have to be a member of the club to enroll in any of the Homestead programs, or a guest of a member if you want to use any of the Homestead courts, but membership costs and guests prices are very reasonable in comparison to other valley athletic clubs.
“There’s a waiting list for people who want to join, but don’t live in Homestead,” Leifer said. “The monthly dues and the one-time membership fee is really reasonable and the guest fee is only $10.
“Also, we’ve got the best pros in the valley. We’ve got Karen Gallagher, who was inducted into the Colorado Sportswomen Hall of Fame this year. We’ve got Robert Honzo, who has been working with me now forever, and is USPTA (United States Professional Tennis Association) certified with Karen and I. And, we also have Francois Dallain, who played tennis at the University of Colorado, and Laura Schaefer who will be interning with us this summer.”
The Vail Racquet Club
Playing tennis is great, but playing tennis amidst the swaying of the mountain trees and the rush of a cascading waterfall is even better.
The Vail Racquet Club, located on Racquet Club Drive in Vail, is a place where such a thing is possible with nine outdoor courts – three of which are clay – situated right in the heart of High Country paradise.
The cost for both members and non-members is pretty cheap too, with private half-hour lessons starting at $29 for members and $35 for nonmembers.
The club also offers an assortment of clinics, camps and match play opportunities to both members and guests of all ages.
Monday begins with “Stroke of the Week,” a clinic which breaks down a particular stroke, followed by “Two Stroke Tuesday,” in which players do drills on how to implement two different strokes into their games.
Finally, racquet junkies can try to find their inner tennis zone on Saturdays with “The Tennis Zone” clinic, a comprehensive training session with the club’s pros. Afterward, players of similar abilities are paired up for some match-play action.
The Racquet Club has three summer tourneys like Homestead, with the showcase being The Vail Valley Classic, running June 18-20.
There is also the Vail Valley Junior Open in mid-July and a club tourney at the end of August.
In such a beautiful setting, it would take the worst of games to have a meltdown on the court. Just in case you do, though, there is always the pool nearby.
Vail Cascade Resort and Spa
With three indoor courts, 11 outdoor courts and enough amenities to make you forget your lousy forearm shot, the Vail Cascade Resort and Spa is everything a resort should be in Ski Country USA’s best resort town.
Located on the frontage road between Lionshead and West Vail, the Cascade is tennis and a whole lot more and its rating as one of the top-50 tennis resorts in North America by Tennis Magazine proves it.
The club has tennis membership options for singles in the valley as well as families and offers programs for kids, clinics and socials.
If you tweak your back hitting a shot down the line, you can always get it taken care of with a massage and a drink afterwards.
Vail Tennis Center
The Vail tennis center may be the most economical of the valley’s tennis options. Located at Ford Park, the facility boasts the most clay courts in the valley with eight, as well as two hard courts.
A part of the Vail Recreation District, the center has an all-comers welcome approach and a full service pro shop to service its patrons. The center opens May 23 and will close down September 7.
Cordillera has two tennis facilities in the Summit Athletic Club on the south side of I-70 and the Cordillera Valley Club located across the valley on the northern side of the highway.
“The actual facility that we like to brag about is the Valley Club,” said director of recreation Lisa Isom. “There are two clay courts there and the setting is absolutely beautiful. It’s got a real unique feel with the pinion pine and cedar and sagebrush. It sits right there in the valley in a little shaded area. Aesthetically, it’s very nice.”
Cordillera offers both children and adult lessons as well as men’s and women’s clinics, margarita mixers and open men’s and women play.
The only downside is that the club does not offer a tennis membership. So, either you have to pay the super-hefty membership fees for all that is Cordillera, or get in good with someone who’s already in.
“We don’t have a tennis membership,” Isom said. “We have up to 800 members in the summer and there is only a small fee for a member’s guests.”
Other tennis notables
The Beaver Creek Tennis Center
Eagle-Vail Golf Club
The Cotton Ranch Club in Gypsum
Contact Nate Peterson at 949-0555, ext. 608 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org