Reed Travel Features
WESLEY CHAPEL -- The late Harry Hopman was the winningest
captain in Davis Cup history, capturing tennis' premier team
competition for his native Australia 16 times during his 21-year
A strict disciplinarian who demanded total commitment from his
players, Hopman was dubbed the "greatest tennis coach ever" by
The Australian teams he captained included such tennis legends
as Rod Laver, Ken Rosewall, John Newcombe and Tony Roche.
Hopman moved to Florida in 1976 and opened Hopman International
Tennis, a training facility where touring professionals could hone
their skills and up-and-coming juniors could prepare for the rigors
of the tour.
In 1986 Hopman moved his operation to the Saddlebrook Resort in
Wesley Chapel, Fla., a full-service resort located about 33 miles
north of Tampa.
A United States Tennis Association National Training Center,
Saddlebrook's tennis program is now run by camp director Howard
Moore and director of coaching Tommy Thompson. They oversee a staff
of approximately 40 teaching pros trained in Hopman's methods.
The resort is home to the prestigious Saddlebrook Academy, a
fully accredited college preparatory school for seventh to 12th
graders from around the world. Its students take part in a unique
program that combines five hours of classroom study with
four-and-a-half hours of daily tennis and fitness instruction.
But hackers can take heart: Saddlebrook offers a tennis camp
with packages geared to intermediate and advanced recreational
players looking to sharpen their games.
The camp's most popular program is the six-night Hopman Week
(offered year- round), priced from $852 per person, double, through
April 26. An optional meal plan costs $55 per person, daily.
Prices drop after April, with rates starting at $690 per person,
Players looking for a quick tune-up can take advantage of a
two-day/Saturday night package priced from $247 per person,
For the price, campers stay in privately owned, deluxe one- and
two-bedroom guest rooms with a kitchen, dining room and living
They also have access to two 18-hole golf courses designed and
built by Arnold Palmer (Saddlebrook also is home to the Arnold
Palmer Golf Academy).
Every program includes a video analysis and fresh fruit and
Rack rates are from $215 per night, single or double, through
A big selling point at Saddlebrook is the number of hours that
players spend on the court and the ratio of students to
Players are grouped by ability and stay with the same pro for
the week, with no more than four players to a teaching pro.
Players take part in five hours of hard-hitting, imaginative
drills a day designed to make them react quickly to the ball.
Because of the intensive nature of the program, the Saddlebrook
camp is best suited for players who are in good shape and who are
willing to push themselves.
Saddlebrook's instructors expect participants to know their
strokes and will work to hone their skills instead of completely
revamping their style of play.
Another of Saddlebrook's selling points is that the pros who
work with the Academy students also work with the recreational
Indeed, Saddlebrook's pros put campers through many of the same
drills that the Academy players go through.
The sessions run from 8:20 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 12:50 p.m. to
Each session starts with about 10 minutes of stretching and a
jog around the court complex, then moves on to the drills.
Not surprisingly, Saddlebrook's tennis facilities are top-notch,
with 45 courts representing every Grand Slam surface: hard courts
(U.S. and Australian opens), red clay (French Open) and grass
(Wimbledon), although the majority of court time is spent on the
complex's 31 Har-Tru (green clay) courts.
The courts are in immaculate condition and are swept between the
morning and afternoon sessions.
Off court, Saddlebrook lives up to its reputation as a
In addition to the two golf courses, Saddlebrook features a
"sports village" anchored by a 3,300-square-foot, glass-enclosed
fitness center with the latest cardiovascular machines, strength
training equipment and free weights.
Near the fitness center is a regulation basketball court, two
grass volleyball courts, a softball field and a swimming pool with
Back at the hotel's center, there is a 270-foot-long "superpool"
surrounded by sundecks and whirlpools, and a new spa with the
requisite massage therapies and body treatments -- a real treat
after a day of hard tennis.
There are also extensive jogging and bicycle trails.
A popular spot for corporate meetings and retreats, Saddlebrook
also boasts some 60,000 square feet of meeting and function
To book, call (800) 729-8383.