A Diary from the 2018 Hosted Week at Umag Academy

Our hosted holidays are tennis breaks which are managed by a member of our staff, a proficient tennis player. The staff member acts as a guide and representative throughout the trip, helping to organise communal meals and tennis matches. These holidays are particularly appealing to single travellers, since they can join up with our group and enjoy socialising with the group. We of course welcome couples and groups on the holidays too.

In May 2018, we ran our fourth holiday week to the Umag Academy in Croatia. This trip was another big success and we’ve got some details of what happened during the trip below.

Trip to the Istraturist Resort May 2018

Kevin Wentworth

Below is a report from the staff member, Kevin Wentworth, who hosted the group to the Umag Academy:

Arrival in Croatia

Arriving after a short 2 hours and 5 minute flight from London Stansted to Trieste (Yes! Croatia is actually closer than Spain or Portugal) we were met by our friendly transfer driver at the airport. The scenic journey to the Umag Academy took us through Slovenia. With the journey taking just over an hour it was the perfect opportunity to get to know our fellow tennis players.

Once we’d checked in to the 5* Melia Coral the socialising continued at the hotel bar. By the end of the evening we already felt like we’d known each other for ages. It was time to hit the pillow and recharge for the first day of coaching. Our group were all impressed with the excellent facilities at the Melia Coral, an adults-only hotel that boasts an indoor swimming pool, a spa suite and an in-house casino!

Food at the 5* Melia Coral

Meals at the hotel are served in a very nice restaurant, the presentation was “buffet style” with an amazing choice of fayre. In the mornings, there were cooked breakfast (scrambled, poached and fried eggs, bacon, variety of sausages, fried bread, toasts) as well as freshly squeezed juices, pastries, delicious bread and yogurts. The chefs are happy to prepare a custom omelette of your choice!

In the evenings, the dinner choices were constantly changing with a great selection of starters, salads, soups, meat, fresh fish and pasta (no doubt a reflection of our close proximity to Italy with Trieste just to the north). After seconds or even thirds of the main course (this tennis coaching is a hungry business!), if you can manage it there is a full dessert menu. Choices included sorbet, ice cream, cheesecake and tiramisu to name a few.

The excellent staff at the hotel always looked after our group. Our regular waiter, who was originally from Switzerland, always greeted us with the phrase “everything is possible!”. Every evening the staff ensured we had our favourite “King Arthurian round table” overlooking the swimming pool. We enjoyed fine Croatian red, white and rose wines with our dinner and almost always were the last to leave the dining room!!! The evening meails were always lots of fun, with interesting discussions and plenty of laughs.

In addition to dinner, most evenings there was live music in the bar for those who wanted to stay up a little later.

What about the tennis?

Having run a few tennis weeks at the Umag Academy, we can honestly say that the facilities and the coaching is of the highest quality. The Croatian coaches made our group feel at ease, lots of jokes and laughter combined with a serious focus on technique and strategy.

The mornings began with a short and gentle warm up, not just focussing on stretching, but also movement with and without the ball. There was plenty of focus on forehand, backhand, top spin, slice, serving, volleys and smash. This was combined with rallying games to compliment the technical side of things.

Following our 2-hour coaching sessions, we always had at least an extra hour of matchplay organised by yours truly. This “extra time” of play was appreciated by the group and allowed us to put into practice what we’d learned early in the day.

The coaching also includes a video session. This is an opportunity to see your play up close and have it analysed by the coaches. In future trips this analysis is being extended to daily analysis, with an electronic copy you can take home!

The Academy is in a great location, literally a few minutes walk from the Melia Coral reception. The courts are within a stone’s throw of the pristine Adriatic Sea. This was our view for lunchtime breaks, sitting up on the Academy balcony you get a great view of the coastline. Food and drinks at the Academy were very reasonable, we usually spent about £10 for drinks and a fish, meat or pasta dish. All served by friendly staff.

The setting

The centre of Umag is approximately 2.5 kms away, a lovely stroll or cycle along the coast to the town. Along the way there are numerous bars, restaurants and cafes. Each establishment has the beautiful clear blue sea to one side and wonderful manicured gardens to the other.

The sea air is wonderfully refreshing and a great from of stress relief!! If you don’t feel like the excercise, there are also little tourist trains which run all day and late into the evening. Our group used the train and spent our afternoons on the seafront in Umag, watching the sun go down. Once we were ready we would head back to the hotel for another evening meal at the buffet restaurant.

A great week of tennis and friendship

Alas, like all good things, our week came to an end almost before we knew it. So many good memories: new friends, great coaching, a super tennis hotel, fantastic food and delicious local wines. The abiding memory for me of this trip, is one of picturesque sunsets spent with friends while catching up on the events of the day – perfect!. Another incredible Croatian tennis experience.

Something tells me that once people experience tennis in Croatia they’ll keep coming back!

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