The San Diego Tennis Network (SDTN) is a very active organization of tennis players who want to have fun. On and off the tennis court. All year long this group is offering organized tennis match play at various San Diego locations such as the beautiful Rancho Valencia Resort in posh Rancho Santa Fe. And all year long the group is organizing social get togethers like parties and dances for its members. The annual outing to the desert is always one of the highlights for SDTN members because it is a wonderful getaway in a warm climate, combining lots of tennis with parties and companionship. This year the destination was once again Shadow Mountain Resort & Club in Palm Desert and a guided tour through the Indian Wells Tennis Garden created a much appreciated new event on the program.
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Shadow Mountain Resort & Club is one of the premier tennis resorts in the desert between Palm Springs and La Quinta called the Coachella Valley. The resort opened in 1946 as one of the first tennis resorts in the entire Palm Springs area. It features a mid-century modern stone, wood and glass clubhouse that half circles a gigantic figure-eight swimming pool. The recreational facility officially opened in December 1948 with a spectacular aquatics show. Palm Desert’s first tennis courts opened at Shadow Mountain in 1961 and have been host to many famous tennis and sports figures throughout the years. Today the breathtaking views, figure-eight pool, and architecture help maintain the nostalgia and glamour of Shadow Mountain Resort & Club’s early years.
The San Diego Tennis Network is a 10 year old organization providing its members with regular match play opportunities at nice host clubs in San Diego, such as Rancho Valencia Resort, Surf & Turf Tennis Club, and the Pacific Beach Tennis Club. Organized match play is being provided Thursday nights, Friday nights, and Saturday afternoons, which is one of the advantages of being a member of this Tennis Network. The club is also known for a very active social calendar, organized by its members. From trips to the Del Mar Race Track to bowling nights, dance parties, and Member/Guest get-togethers, the club is offering a good selection of activities. One of the mainstays of the social program is the group’s annual outing to Palm Desert. Their location of choice is Shadow Mountain Resort & Club not only because of the 16 tennis courts, but also because of the great accommodations and the willingness of management to work with large groups. SDTN is owned by 4 avid tennis players, Sue Spencer, Bob Alden, and Jeff & PJ Greenwald, with Spencer managing most of the on-court activities and events.
This year the San Diego group added a few players from Orange County and LA County. Players started to arrive Friday afternoon and were immediately invited to play in a round robin mixer organized by Sue Spencer. The serious match play started next morning with another round robin when most of the 40 participants in the 2011 trip had finally arrived. These players are serious tennis nuts who like the relaxed atmosphere and trust the group leaders are mixing up the matches well so everyone has a good time and is guaranteed some competitive tennis. After a quick lunch it was off to the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, where Director of Tennis Tom Fey had agreed to take the group on a private guided tour through the facility.
The Indian Wells Tennis Garden is the site for many USTA National and Sectional Championships and a large number of other tournaments and charity tennis events. This beautiful, 24 courts facility is also home to one of the most prestigious tennis tournaments in the world, the BNP Paribas Open. All small and large tournaments and championships keep Tom Fey busy and he points out all the little improvements the Tennis Garden has implemented lately. Like the additional spectator stands for the BNP Paribas Open practice courts, and the two new hard courts. He also explained that the biggest improvement for the 2012 BNP Paribas Open includes a large, shade providing sail like roof over much of the food court area, complete with stage and lounge chairs and view of the giant color screen.
Tom guided the group through a maze of levels and rooms like the player lounge, the media room, player massage facilities and more. Most exciting, of course, the player locker rooms with all of the winners showing their name plates on individual lockers. Tom freely shared information and news with the tour participants, most of whom are long time patrons of the Indian Wells tournament.
The history of the tournament and the Indian Wells Tennis Garden is best explained with 4 recent interviews the LA Tennis Examiner conducted with the 4 men behind the facility, the event, and its success:
- Charlie Pasarell
- Ray Moore
- Steve Simon
- Tom Fey
After the tour some hard nosed group members returned to the courts of Shadow Mountain Resort & Club while others relaxed at the resort’s gigantic pool, getting ready for the traditional Saturday night party at the restaurant atop the tennis pro-shop. This year’s party theme was Columbus Day Trivia where everybody was invited to form competing teams and show their Trivia prowess. Many participants realized they were indeed not smarter than the proverbial fifth grader.
Sunday morning after breakfast was the time for — what else? — some more round robin tennis match play before the majority of the tennis players checked out and left for their various home towns. Happy faces meant people got what they came for, 4 tennis events, a party, tour of the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, shopping for stylish tennis outfits at the Garden’s pro-shop and at Pete Carlson’s Golf & Tennis on Hwy 111, various night life events in town, all in 2 ½ days.
Indian Wells and Palm Desert are only a 2 hour drive from most locations in Southern California. The drive via I-10 is pretty quick and many people add a stop at the Morongo Casino, approx. 30 minutes from Palm Springs, just before the landscape is plastered with what must be thousands of white wind energy wind mills. From San Diego many people opt for the shortcut through the mountains, which is more scenic and also more exciting for adventurous drivers.
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