Year-round sunshine makes Florida great for tennis. There are some 7,700 places to play throughout the state, from municipal courts to exclusive resorts. Some municipal facilities -- Cambier Park Tennis Center in Naples leaps to mind -- are comparable to the ones at expensive resorts, except they're free or close to it.
If you can afford it, you can learn from the best in Florida. Nick Bollettieri has a sports academy in Bradenton. Safety Harbor Resort and Spa near St. Petersburg has a USTA-approved tennis academy. Amateurs can hobnob with the superstars at ATP Tour International Headquarters in Ponte Vedra Beach, near Jacksonville. And Chris Evert has her own center in Boca Raton.
The 18 hard courts, 2 grass courts, and 6 clay courts at the Crandon Tennis Center, 6702 Crandon Blvd. (tel. 305/365-2300), get crowded on weekends because they're some of Miami's most beautiful. You'll play on the same courts as Lendl, Graf, Evert, McEnroe, Roddick, Nadal, Federer, and other greats; this is the venue for one of the world's biggest annual tennis events, the Sony Ericsson Open. There's a pleasant, if limited, pro shop, plus many good pros. Only four courts are lighted at night, but if you reserve at least 48 hours in advance, you can usually take your pick. Hard-court fees are $4 per person, per hour during the day; $6 per person, per hour at night. Clay-court fees are $7 per person, per hour during daytime only. Grass courts are $11 per person, per hour during daytime only. The courts are open daily from 8am to 9pm.
Famous as the spot where Chris Evert got in her early serves, the Jimmy Evert Tennis Center, 701 NE 12th Ave. (off Sunrise Blvd.), Fort Lauderdale (tel. 954/828-5378), has 18 clay and 3 hard courts (15 lighted). Her coach and father, James Evert, still teaches young players here, though he is very picky about whom he'll accept. Nonresidents of Fort Lauderdale pay $7.50 an hour per person before 5pm and $9 an hour per person after 5pm.
Other top places at which to learn and play are the Omni Amelia Island Plantation, on Amelia Island; Sanibel Harbour Marriott Resort & Spa, in Fort Myers, whose 5,500-seat stadium has hosted Davis Cup matches; South Seas Resort & Yacht Harbour, on Captiva Island; and the Naples Grande Resort & Club, in Naples.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.