Top UK tennis coach Mark Petchey and Neilson Beach Clubs are serving up group training sessions and tutorials for all levels of ability. Travel Editor Frank Baldwin reports.
Watching the professionals play at annual tennis tournaments such as Eastbourne and Wimbledon always inspires more people onto their local courts during the summer months.
And whether you are just an occasional player or a regular club player, watching the pros also motivates those who want to improve their game.
There are many UK-based LTA qualified coaches who can help, but combining a series of tennis coaching sessions with a relaxing overseas holiday has become a popular choice.
During this year’s summer holidays, Neilson Beach Clubs teamed up with former UK pro player turned coach Mark Petchey who has worked with Emma Raducanu and Andy Murray.
Mark created daily-group training sessions for beginners and more experienced players in locations including Spain, Italy, Sardinia, Greece and Croatia.
He also took part in Neilson’s in-resort pro-tennis weeks when he gave first-hand advice and recounted interesting anecdotes from his years on the world’s tennis circuit.
The popularity of these tennis weeks means they will be available again during summer 2024. To get an idea of what you can expect, Mark has put together a series of tutorials on the Neilson website. These include advice on improving your backhand, forehand, return of serve, the serve, and the drop shot.
Mark, who was born in Essex in 1970, has become one of the UK’s most successful tennis players, both on and off the court. His passion for the game began at an early age when he played with his dad. He turned professional in his teens and reached 80 in the world rankings as a singles player.
Mark made the move into coaching when his own playing career came to an end because of an injury. He began coaching Silvija Talaja, a Croatian player who was ranked 90 in the world. With Mark’s help he moved up to number 17.
Mark’s next student was Andy Murray who was relatively unknown at the time. The Scotsman was ranked 351 in the world, but Mark propelled him into the top 50 within 10 months during which Andy Murray also won his first ATP tournament.
When Andy later moved onto another coach he said: “It was a very difficult decision and based solely on the development of my tennis.”
Mark’s work with Neilson is all about nurturing people’s love for the game and the benefits of being involved in the tennis community, as well as teaching people to play tennis like a pro.
The tennis programmes Mark has helped to create for Neilson are more than just about developing skills on the court.
There’s also a strong emphasis on staying fit and the social aspects of the game, to ensure that adults and kids alike are engaged in sports.
His tutorials on the Neilson website also includes advice and drills on the way tennis can help your fitness and get you into shape. Mark shares five practical fitness tips and workout suggestions.
• For more information on tennis holidays with Neilson go to neilson.co.uk/beach
• For Mark Petchey’s tennis tutorials visit neilson.co.uk/beach/activities/tennis-holidays/play-like-a-pro