The Island's Best Courts
Most tennis courts in Bermuda are connected to hotels and guest houses.
At the Fairmont Southampton, you’ll find six superbly maintained hard courts (three of them with floodlights), a pro shop and experienced coaches. (Try to snag Court 6; it’s separate from the others and draws the best ocean breeze. Ex-Wimbledon champ Pat Cash, who owned a home in Bermuda, used to practice with top local players on this court).
Elbow Beach Bermuda Resort and Spa has five plexi paved courts in a stunning setting quite close to the beach but shielded by tall, evergreen casuarina and palm trees. There’s a pro shop, bathrooms and courtside water coolers. It’s a family-run enterprise headed by genial veteran player and tutor David Lambert; his two daughters also coach and rank among the island’s best players.
Close to the airport at the East End of the island is Grotto Bay Beach Resort, with four hard courts (two of them floodlit). It's kid-friendly with lots of mini-racquets for hire.
At Rosewood Tucker’s Point, there are four clay courts, locker rooms and Bermuda’s No.1 player, Gavin Manders, as resident pro. A Davis Cup player, his enthusiasm alone will inspire you to up your game.
A sprinkling of other resorts have their own courts, among them: The Reefs Resort & Club; Cambridge Beaches; Pompano Beach Club and Coco Reef Resort. Keep your eye on the ball – don't be tempted by the breathtaking vistas.
A sprinkling of top resorts have their own courts.
While every guest in Bermuda is considered a VIP, only the privileged few get to play on the court at magnificent Government House, official home of the Governor, the Queen’s on-island representative. It helps if you’re a British Prime Minister; Tony Blair swung his racquet here while enjoying a brief respite from the Iraq War.
A resort and private members club, Coral Beach for years hosted the XL Bermuda Open, an ATP event that drew stars like Andy Roddick and James Blake. Set on 21 landscaped and secluded acres, it features eight clay courts and an air of timeless elegance. Forget your neon Nadal-wear, you play in classy all-white here.
The Pomander Gate Tennis Club, just a few minutes outside Hamilton, welcomes guests as temporary members. There are five hard courts and, if you lose in straights sets, you can console yourself with a cocktail at the bar or enjoy some ping-pong.
Tennis + Golf
Port Royal is world-famous for its PGA-standard golf course, but there’s tennis at this scenic Southampton location, too, with four hard courts. The talents of many of the island’s best young players have been nurtured here and there’s a welcoming, community feel to the place.
Prices vary but you can pay up to $100 per hour for private lessons and around $20 per hour for court hire (a little more under lights). All levels of proficiency are catered to and hotel guests enjoy discounts.
The Government-run W.E.R. Joell Tennis Stadium is among the less expensive options. A 10-minute walk from Hamilton’s city centre, it has five courts, a practice wall and three clay courts (a good option when it’s showery). Take a handful of quarters or a few $1 BDA coins for the soda/water machine.
Bermuda's Tennis History
Credit one Mary Outerbridge (nee Gray), born in Philadelphia to Bermudian parents, who played the game at Clermont, a house in Paget Parish with a sprawling lawn. Mary’s father, Sir Brownlow Gray, had been given racquets and other equipment by a pal, a Bermuda-based merchant who had learned the game in England.
Older tennis enthusiasts delight in reminding Americans that it was a Bermudian who introduced the game to the U.S.
Mary sailed back to the U.S. and in March 1872 set up the country’s first tennis court, on the grounds of the Staten Island Cricket & Baseball Club. Curiously, it was shaped like an hourglass and the first game was played between Mary and her sister Lauren.
Most folks believe there are no grass courts left in Bermuda. Well, there's at least one but it’s on a private estate. It’s a long shot but if your coach has a strong link to the Bermuda Lawn Tennis Association, who knows, you might wangle your way onto the grass.