South Florida is probably the world’s epicenter for tennis. It’s warm and sunny all year long and tennis facilities are EVERYWHERE. Professional academies, the National Tennis Center, public tennis courts, and facilities designed to appeal to vacation tennis players abound.
And the tiny island of Key Biscayne just a stone’s throw from Miami is no exception. On my recent trip to Key Biscayne, I played a little tennis and also scouted out all the best places on the island, so keep reading to find out where to play tennis on Key Biscayne plus a full review of the tennis at the Ritz Carlton Key Biscayne:
Where to Play Tennis on Key Biscayne
I planned my trip to Key Biscayne mostly just to stay at the Ritz Carlton and have easy access to the Cliff Drysdale Tennis Center. It’s about a 2 minute walk from the resort and it’s a top notch facility. They have 11 clay courts and run a pretty impressive schedule of clinics, drills, round robins, and lessons throughout the week. You can view their schedule here.
You don’t have to be a resort guest to play here (the club has memberships and you can also play as a drop in). Drills and clinics pretty much fill up everyday so I strongly suggest making reservations in advance. The first day of my trip I showed up without calling ahead and it was already full.
It cost $40 for the 1.5 hour adult clinic I participated in. I brought my own racquet, but you can rent for $7/day in the pro shop.
Besides the scheduled drills, you can also arrange for private lessons or just reserve a court to play on if you’re traveling with other players ($15/person for the day including a can of balls, water, towels, etc.). And the resort/club arranges different adult camps throughout the year (both pre scheduled where you can join an existing group and customized for your own group) so call directly if you’re interested in those details.
They also had three courts specially designed for “Padel” (supposedly the premier facility in Miami) which looks like it’s played on a mini tennis court with artificial turf, plexiglass walls, paddles, and tennis balls. It’s supposed to be a mix between tennis and squash. That could be fun to learn how to play.
I did the Tuesday morning 9-10:30 drill. I showed up for the Monday drill but it was full and while I could’ve waited around to see if there was a no show, I had a pretty long list of things I wanted to do on the island so I just reserved a spot for the next day (I will warn…at exactly 24 hours in advance I got the last spot for the next day).
So on Tuesday morning I showed up around 8:50 and was just kind of standing around until a man asked me if I was there for the drill and wanted to warm up. We found a court and hit for a while until two other ladies came over and asked if they could warm up with us. I forgot to wear my watch and kept feeling like it had to be way past 9AM, but the people on our court (who seemed like regulars) said they would call us when they were ready.
About 9:20AM, a pro came out onto the court and read off a list which courts everyone was assigned to go to. I ended up on a court with two other ladies who spent parts of the winter on Key Biscayne and they couldn’t have been nicer. I asked them how they knew where to place everybody on courts (I wasn’t ever asked about my level) and they clued me onto how it all worked. Apparently, the “warm up” with other players is part of the actual clinic (where I regularly play we warm up with the pro right at the start) and the pro kind of watches everybody and matches people up according to level. So that’s good to know…I felt like I was kind of waiting around for the clinic to start, but just jump in right at the start time (or before) because that’s part of the drill.
So after we got matched up after the warm up, we had a little over an hour with the pros. We did three 20-ish minute rotations with three different pros so it all felt like it moved really fast and you got three different styles of drills/play. Although I will say…I’ve done drills/clinics at other academies/tennis centers where there was more of a focus on working on a certain shot, or giving you some specific tip or two and this clinic was more about just playing points out. With all three pros we just played out points with everybody on the baseline, first team to 11. So I would say the clinics at the Ritz are perfect if you’re just looking for practice playing out points, but if you want any kind of instruction, you’re going to want to book a lesson with a pro.
What I liked about playing tennis here was that it’s a good mix of people on vacation and people who live in the area (either full time or seasonally). It felt more like your local tennis club (where everybody knows everybody) than a lot of places I’ve played tennis on vacation. But it wasn’t cliquish at all…everyone was very welcoming to the visitors and kind of tracked who was there on vacation and how long you’d be there. And it seemed like others who were there on vacation were really taking advantage of the tennis center (like they had come to Key Biscayne/the Ritz specifically for the tennis and were doing clinics every day and even lessons as well).
Don’t miss these other posts about Miami:
This public facility has been an institution in the Miami tennis community. The whole northern end of the island is Crandon Park, an 800-acre paradise that used to be the country’s largest coconut plantation. And in a land where palm trees are plentiful, there are even more than usual at Crandon Park. The park area is home to Crandon Park Beach (one of the best beaches in the Miami area), a golf course, a nature center and marina, and a tennis center.
The Crandon Park Tennis Center is HUGE (I’m talking 27 courts including a stadium center court) and it used to be home to the Miami Open (a men’s and women’s 1000 level tournament-just a notch below a major). But it’s a little weird. The center has fallen pretty much into disrepair and it kind of seems abandoned (it’s possible that they use some of the courts in the summer?)-parts of the complex at Crandon Park Beach are looking pretty rough too.
But good news–they’ve built a new complex of tennis courts at the golf course at Crandon Park (just a little bit north of the original tennis center) and they’ve shifted the program up there. It’s a little confusing because their website and what you read online still talks about the facilities at the original Crandon Park Tennis Center, but it’s the golf course you want (if you’re using your GPS for directions).
They have a pretty good program of lessons, camps, and drills. From looking at their schedule online, it looks like a lot of the drills are in the evenings (good news in the summer!) or weekends and $18/person but call ahead to double check all times (and the location!).
If you have all your gear and your playing buddies and you’re just looking for a court, there are four courts at Calusa Park. Just north of the village of Key Biscayne (the main part of the island), the courts at Calusa Park have always been fabulously maintained because they were used as practice courts for the Miami Open when it was played at Crandon Park.
Whether you’re looking for a top level academy to brush up on your skills or just a court to play a friendly match with your buddies, you’ve got plenty of options on Key Biscayne!
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