I love tennis, but my tennis technique is nothing to brag about. When Martha and I go to Jekyll Island, however, you'll find us on the courts at the Jekyll Island Tennis Center as much as possible.
What do we like about the Jekyll Island Tennis Center? Well, the courts, for one. They have 13 Har-Tru clay courts for match play or for practicing. Seven are lighted.
Tennis Technique on Clay -
I love to play on clay. Why? Several reasons, actually.
So if you like tennis, head over to the Jekyll Island Tennis Center. Bring the family and create your own tournament! Or have the helpful staff set you up with one of the many tennis lovers living in the area.
The Tennis Center also has a pro shop that offers racket stringing and racket rentals. Or rent a ball machine rental to hone up on your tennis technique. You can also purchase tennis equipment and apparel.
While there, take advantage of the Center's instructional offerings: private and group lessons. They also are host to many annual USTA tournaments for adults and juniors.
Call (912)635-3154 for reservations or more information.
An Interview with Former Jekyll Island Tennis Center Pro
Our friend Pete Poole was the Jekyll Island Tennis Center's Pro for what seems like forever, but retired a few years back. The following is an interview I did with him not long after I started Jekyll Island Family Adventures.
Pete was with the Center from it's inception in 1988. "I had been the Head Tennis Pro for Sea Palms Golf and Tennis Resort on St. Simon's Island. The Tennis Center opened in April, and we hosted a USTA Junior tournament one week after the courts were completed.
"The facility has received two rewards - one from USTA and another from Tennis Magazine (voted one of the 25 best municipal facilities in the country)."
Let's Play Some Tennis! -
That Spring Junior Tournament in April is now an annual event.
"It's in its 22nd year," Pete says. "We host it along with the Georgia State Open and Senior Championships in March, the Jekyll Junior Championships in June, the Adult Summer Open in July, the Junior Summer Camp Championships in August, as well as the NTRP Banana Open, a tourny flighted for all levels of players."
The Jekyll Island Tennis Center also promotes community-oriented events.
"We have a wooden racquet tournament each February," Pete says. "It's called 'Victorian Tennis'. Many players come in period dress.
"From January through March, we have Wednesday Round Robins, some of which have themes like Cupid's Court in February, and Irish Pot Luck in March. There's also tennis clinics each Tuesday morning.
"And the Jekyll Island Tennis Sign-Up Sheets, where up to 52 players put down their names for afternoon doubles Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Happy Hour at McCormick's Grill (after playing on Friday's) has become quite popular.
"We also host two Twilight Tennis mixed-doubles each month, under the lights."
All in all, a well-rounded tennis program for competitors of all levels.
Quality Players Have Passed Through Here -
The Tennis Center has hosted some famous names.
"Most recently we had (ATP Pro) Donald Young play the Summer Open," Pete explained. "He won the singles, and withdrew from the doubles after surviving some stiff competition from a few of our strongest area juniors.
"Also, the Russian Academy of Tennis brought a group of then-unknown players to play a tournament. Among them were Safin, Daveydanko, Petrova and Myskina, to mention a few."
Improve Your Tennis Technique -
Pete offered a full complement of instruction on tennis technique and strategy.
"Structure depends on the students requests. We try to be as flexible as possible. Some want to practice; others want to learn something totally new. So we listen first."
He also provided individual or group lessons based on ability, something the current staff still does.
According to Pete, early preparation is key to a sound game.
"We believe tennis is a first move sport, and that it's really important to use torso rotation to take the racquet back as opposed to being too "armsy".
"We also stress error management, so the student knows how to correct errors rather than just repeating them."
Want to work on your tennis technique, or grove those tennis strokes? The current pro staff can set you up on the Center's ball machine.
"Give us a heads-up so we can put you on court 1 or 2, which have the all-important electrical outlets."
Pete's Best Tennis Tip -
Not adverse to picking the brains of the experts, I asked Pete for one tip he could give to help us hackers. Pete had a ready reply.
"Realize there are three types of errors - preparation, stroke and footwork. If you can identify the source of the error, you will be better able to correct it. In other words, don't blame all mistakes on your strokes, when improved preparation or footwork could be the answer."
Growing the Game -
The Jekyll Island Tennis Center believes in promoting and growing tennis through programs that help develop rising junior talent. Pete always stressed that juniors were the future of the sport, and worked hard to develop the tennis technique of kids with promise.
"We have beginner through advanced programs on Saturdays during the school year, and camps during the summer. Two camps are followed by our USTA Junior Tournaments so they can practice with the purpose of competing.
"The Tennis Center also hosts two high school tournaments: the Jekyll Jam and the Golden Isles High School Invitational in the Spring."
They also offer league play, though leagues are small due to demographics, Pete says. "The Golden Isles Social Tennis league has quarterly events here. Game arranging is really important because we are a resort and players often arrive on Jekyll needing opponents. We're happy to help.
"Coincidentally, the locals are always looking to play with someone new, so it's a complimentary situation. Let's face it - it's the people that we do things with that make it fun and enjoyable."
Times are changing on Jekyll Island with revitalization well under way, and the Tennis Center is a part of that. "We've added several stone tables," Pete says, "and a fountain on the patio behind the clubhouse where people like to hang out. We are always ready and willing to welcome new players to the tennis experience here."
Indoor Tennis on Jekyll Island? -
I closed our interview by asking Pete's opinion on the fate of the J.P. Morgan Historical Indoor Tennis Court, located in the Historic District.
"I have many fond memories of playing there, and while it was available to us, we loved to be able to count on playing rain or shine. It will play an important part in hosting Jekyll's groups while the Convention Center is being replaced, so I'm happy the building is being renovated."
UPDATE: the renovated tennis court was used as temporary convention facilities while the Jekyll Island Convention Center was under construction. Now that the Convention Center is complete, the J.P. Morgan Center will host events for the Jekyll Island Club Hotel.
I know how Pete feels. Over the years, our family has also enjoyed playing in the J.P. Morgan court. Our boys fine-tuned their tennis technique on the court's fast concrete surface.
We had hoped that, after
valiantly serving the cause of Jekyll Island's renovation, the old girl
will be fully restored as an indoor tennis facility for Jekyll Island
residents and guests to enjoy once again. Regretfully, that didn't happen. The J.P. Morgan court will remain a meeting facility serving the needs of the Jekyll Island Club Hotel.
You can get daily, weekly, monthly, or annual memberships at the Jekyll Island Tennis Center for individuals or families. Pro shop hours are from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. For reservations call (912) 635-3154.