by Rebecca Hardiman
My husband and I are total tennis freaks, so it’s not surprising that we found ourselves, one pre-pandemic weekend, at a place aptly named Total Tennis in Saugerties, NY. A super-chill tennis hotspot, Total Tennis has been a fixture in the Catskills for more than a quarter-century and caters to all levels (even my embarrassingly low one). For two blissful days, my hubby and I spent many hours on the court—both in group clinics and individual lessons, and one evening during a fun, casual round robin.
Longtime director Edward Fondiller sums up the magic of the place: “It’s a very relaxed, rural setting where you can play a lot of tennis,” he says. “We have 20 outdoor courts—11 red clay, two synthetic clay and seven Plexipave (the same type found at the US Open)—and five indoor Plexipave courts.”
Back when it first opened in a different location in 1978, tennis was the main event, but the retreat has expanded with the times. Platform (paddle) tennis is now very popular here, too, particularly among league teams gearing up for their competitive seasons and all lovers of the traditionally wintry outdoor recreation.
Another newbie to the roster is pickleball, the fastest growing racquet sport in the country. Couples, teams and especially older adults (pickleball being gentler on the body) descend from all over the northeast and beyond to get their pickle on. “People who come here love the natural endorphins of being out on the courts exercising for seven or eight hours over a couple of days,” says Fondiller. “It’s relaxed and everything’s easy. It’s like summer camp for adults.”
On our stay, my instructor, a very patient tennis pro from Pennsylvania, improved my forehand (poor follow-through) and helped revamp my wonky serve, but what I most loved, beside hitting balls, was the resort’s no-frills, laid-back vibe off the court. The lodge and guest rooms have recently undergone a major renovation—a
new pool as well as a patio and outdoor bar were also installed—but Total Tennis still retains its cheerful, no-
fuss, good-value feel.
Plus, the food is dreamy. Chef Eric Mann, formerly of The Bear Café in Bearsville, NY, serves his healthy homecooked meals, unpretentiously, cafeteria-style (all veggies are locally sourced, and the eggs are collected daily from a farm five miles down the road). After dinner, we grabbed drinks in the bar and chatted with a few other couples we’d been rallying with all day. Guess what we talked about?