Vale Do Lobo Tennis Tournament Last Year Looking Forward to This Year
Wimbledon may be over for another year but we're counting down to our family summer holiday trip to Portugal's Algarve as we'll get to see some of the greats of the tennis world at the annual tournament - the Vale do Lobo Grand Champions.
We'd never been before last year, but found ourselves staying with friends in a Vale do Lobo rental villa last August and happened across the tournament. It was so much fun that we skipped the queues at pricey Wimbledon this year in favour of a trip back to see some of the greatest players in guaranteed afternoon sunshine for just E17 a ticket. Kefelnikov, Ivanisevic, Rusedski, Enqvist, Muster and Leconte are all due to play this year. Not bad if you think that Greg Rusedski was still on the pro tour only a few years ago.
They might not quite be up to matching Rafa set for set, but for us the players had so much fun and involved the audience so much that we'd choose it any day over serious grand slam viewing. You not only see the legends enjoying their tennis but also get great courtside seats so you can actually see what's going on. When we went to Wimbledon one year we were so far away from the court at the back of the stands that I couldn't even see the ball and ended up feeling I'd have been much better off watching it on the TV.
Also, as we'll be taking the kids it's great that the matches are mid-afternoon and evening so we can escape the midday sun. Knowing the Algarve pretty well it's more than likely to be blue skies and sunshine for the duration of our holiday so you can plan to watch a tennis match with some certainty, rather than watching the weather and wondering when play will resume!
The academy itself is a stunning venue just on the edge of Vale Do Lobo. It has about 15 tennis courts, mostly hard court, as well as a mini court for children. Friends of ours who stayed in Vale do Lobo villas last year and had some coaching said that the standard of tennis instruction is great and that they always have plenty going on and lots of people to play with. Being more spectators than players, we're going to watch and to try to start getting our kids enthused about the sport from an early age.
This year we're heading back to a self-catering villa in Vale do Lobo for a two-week summer break that coincides with the tournament at the Vale do Lobo Tennis Academy (August 10-13). We're planning to spend time at the beach and visit some of the fantastic nature reserves along the stretch of coastline. I might even slope off for some driving practice if I get an opportunity.
We've hired a car to give ourselves more variety of eateries than Vale do Lobo as we find it can be on the pricey side for a young family and we're also planning to self-cater to help keep costs down. We might also nip over the Spanish border and explore Seville for a day, as it's something we didn't get around to last year and it seems such a shame not to when it's so close.
The Vale do Lobo villa we hired last year was fantastic so we've opted for something very similar this year. In our experience Vale do Lobo villas tend to be clean, spacious, well kept and meet or exceed expectation compared to rental villas elsewhere.
The Grand Champions tournament is called 'Wimbledon on the Algarve' but in truth it's much better than that if you like to relax and enjoy your sport in the warm weather, and in a holiday spirit. I really would recommend the tournament to any tennis fan as it is just so much fun and played in such good humour.