California Dreaming by Bev Wilson, Haddenham Tennis Club

Friday, February 01, 2013
Bev Wilson

California Dreaming by Bev Wilson, Haddenham Tennis Club

I have been asked to report on my annual January migration across the Atlantic and USA to Palm Springs California which I am doing under duress, as I don’t want too many people to find out about it!

It all started seven years ago when I made friends with a great USA couple at the Frinton –on – Sea veterans tournament and they invited me back to stay in their rented ‘Condo’ near Palm Springs the following January.

During January there are four ‘senior’ (veterans) tournaments which start in the first week of January and ramp up in size and difficulty ending with the Babolat Seniors tournament at Mission Hills at the end of January.

All four tournaments are within 10 miles of each other and the weather and scenery is a big factor. It was difficult to send email’s home this year without a bit of a smirk while sitting under clear blue skies with temperatures ranging from 55 to 80 degrees F (they are not on the Celsius scale yet) knowing how difficult it was in the UK with snow and floods and all those postponed league matches! Being a desert climate though, it does get cold in the evening and night. One morning we woke up to a frost, but under the clear blue skies and sun it soon warms up and from a pleasant 50 plus mid morning climbs to mid 60’s or 70’s by the afternoon. You can easily get sunburnt if you don’t wear sunscreen, so take care!

The standard of tennis is very good as players from the northern states and Canada (the snow birds) along with the locals play all the time and have adapted their game to the conditions which are very different to the UK.

The courts are all sandy acrylic on concrete and they play mainly with Penn balls (3 ball cans are the standard). Along with the dry warm conditions this results in a ‘light’ ball flying off the raquet, but it is also very difficult to hit winners on the slow high bouncing courts. A shot that is used a lot is the ‘squash’ sliced forehand and slice backhand. You have to be very patient and wait for an opportunity – something I have never been able to master!

When not playing in tournaments it is easy to find someone to play with as there are so many players and courts. I ended up playing every day while there – what a treat!

Playing hard court tennis does however seem to take a toll on the older body as knee and hip replacements abound! We joked about only one natural knee being on court during a doubles match. This is in huge contrast to the European clay scene where joint replacement seems to be the exception. Surgery does however seem very popular in California! Men’s knees and hips and ladies faces and torso!

This year a group of Brits that I know from various tournaments made the trip independently. Pictured is Chris Ornstien, Tom Petersen, myself and partners / friends at Mission Hills. It looks like the word is spreading and Brit numbers are growing – drat!

The unique area in the Coachella Valley East of LA where the desert oasis ‘cities’ have spread east along highway 10 through a gap in the San Bernardino mountains. Palm Springs started growing a mere seventy or so years ago as a week end get away for the Hollywood set, then as the areas popularity grew, other areas developed with Cathedral City, Rancho Mirage with Thousand Palms, Palm Desert, Indian Wells, La Quinta and finally Indio. The area boasts some 50 golf resorts, all gated communities with ’Condos’ and tennis courts!

I do hope that my feathers and homing instinct is still in good nick for next January – can’t wait.



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High Wycombe
Buckinghamshire HP12 4QA
01494 471238