View Full Version : Newcombe (Newk's) Adult Camp - good for 4.0?

11-05-2009, 02:15 AM
I've been looking around for good adult tennis camps - and looking around, it looks like Newcombe (http://www.newktennis.com/tennis-academy-72.html) gives me the most bang for the buck.

I'm not looking for some pansy 3 hour morning lesson and have the entire afternoon "free". I want tennis morning, afternoon, and evening (if possible) - and Newcombe seems to have that spirit (correct me if I'm wrong).

But the question I have - especially for those of you who have been there before - is whether you think that a 4.0 (or a high 3.5) will benefit greatly from the experience.

I've seen some great reviews thanks to the power of search (http://tinyurl.com/yllmxkv), but most do not really say what level the people who went were - and I'd assume there's some difference between men & women.

(1) Do you think a 4.0 would benefit well? What level are most of the players in your camps? Do they divide the players so that players around the same level are in their own groups? For example, I don't expect 3.0's to be mastering half-volleys, backhand topspin lobs, or doing formation/signaling practice in doubles - they would benefit more from fundamental practices and drills.

(2) Also besides from cutting down on price, what do you think between going there alone vs. dragging someone along?

(3) Now that winter is coming, will weather be a factor? What happens if it rains? Even if they have some indoor courts - since there is total less courts available, will it significantly affect your experience there?

Any other advice?

Dave Mc
11-05-2009, 04:54 AM
It was several years ago, but I've been twice for the Newk's adult weekend camps. Yes, you'll be playing morning and afternoon. Yes, they divide up by skill level into groups. Yes, there were plenty of 4.0 folks but not any 4.5 folks. I'm 4.5 and brought my 4.0 wife, they put us into different groups, and it was a great workout for her, and an OK workout for me. Yes, they have indoor courts which they'll use if it rains, but then you'll have more people per court which reduces the workout.

On our first weekend camp, they assigned me to my own pro, and we worked out privately all weekend, while my wife was working out with the group. That was perfect. On our second camp, there were a few strong 4.0 guys, so I was grouped with them, and it was OK.

The best part about Newk's is the pros... those guys are hilarious, with their Aussie humor, their stories and jokes, and beer drinking and darts tournaments at night in the bar. Good times.

Geezer Guy
11-05-2009, 06:43 AM
I've been to the week-long program at Newk's every fall for the last 6 or 7 years. I think it's great. And, I'm convinced it's absolutely the best value for your dollar when compared to other camp or resort type programs. You can also get more reviews here, see Your Call: http://www.tennisresortsonline.com/trofiles/Newcombe.cfm

To address your questions:
1) A 4.0 will absolutely benefit from the program. Now, obviously a 3.0 will have more room to improve, so they may see a greater degree of improvement. And, it depends a little on the person. At the week-long program, the WILL try to improve your strokes. If you let them, they'll address the flaws. If you don't want to change anything - just hit a ton of balls - then that's up to you. In my time down there I've sometimes been amazed at the amount of progress certain individuals have made from Sunday to Friday. Other people that were not open to change (or hard work) showed less improvement. (I would say that everyone improved - just to varying degrees.) - The weeklong program has fewer attendees than the week-end programs. One year I was the only camper (it was GREAT!). One year there were 3 and another there were 4. One year there were about 20. The other years it was between 6 & 12 or so. If there are more than 4 campers they will divide you up by ability. If there are 4 or less they put everyone on the same court. The years I was with 2 or 3 others I was the best player, but the pro's really did a good job of pushing everyone to their limit. They were harder on me than the others - which is what I wanted. Unless you go down with a group, it's just the luck of the draw for the other campers that will be there. They do run everyone through the same program at the same time (per your example), but at the same time they do a pretty good job of tailoring the instruction to the level of the person.

2) Got to say, the year I was the only camper was the year I learned the most. It's hard NOT to improve when you get 6 hours of "private" instruction a day. Each year I went down after that, I always hoped I'd be alone - but I never was. Now, two other years I've gone down with a buddy (actually, a bunch of buddies one year), and that was a blast. We had a great time during drills, there were plenty of guys my level to hit with after the organized drills were over, and plenty of drinking buddies in the evening. Those were very fun weeks, but because of the number of campers there was not as much individual attention. (Also, if you happen to be there alone, you're rarely "really" alone. The Pro's take all their meals with the campers, will hang out at the bar with you as late as you want, and there are always other staff member roaming around and everyone is very friendly. There are usually non-tennis playing guests on the ranch as well. And, the Academy Kids are running around too. The year I was the only camper they even set up some matches for me with some of the academy kids. Those were a blast - and a bit humbling.)

3) Winters there are not bad - at least not when I've been there. You can go to http://www.weather.com/outlook/recreation/golf/wxclimatology/monthly/graph/USTX0950?role=&from=tenDay_bottomnav_golf to see the average temps by month. I've usually gone in Oct or Nov and it's been very pleasant. I went the first week of Dec once and it was cool when we started in the morning but warm in the afternoon. I think I've only worn worm-up gear a couple times - and that was just to start. When the drills started I've always dressed in regular tennis attire. I think we've only had rain 2 half-days. There are four "covered" (but open ended) hard courts for rain days. It's not ideal, but not bad either.

I've been to a lot of resorts and camps. I think Newk's is the best. I think their price is the best by far. I think the pro's are fun and really seem to care about the improvement of each person. The food is hearty, tasty and plentyful. The accomodations are clean & neat - not fancy.

Geezer Guy
11-05-2009, 09:05 PM
Sorry - you asked about levels and I didn't give you any real numbers. During the week-long programs that I've attended, I estimate I've attended with about 50 players. I'd guess their NTRP's as: 10 with 3.0 or lower, 25 with 3.5, 13 were 4.0, 2 were 4.5 or higher. I'd estimate the male-female ratio for those weeks to be about 50-50 as well.

And, just one more thing. I'd also say that if I'd throw out one week in particular that I was down there, the NTRP numbers would have been more skewed to the higher end. But, two years ago I happened to go down on the same week that about a dozen players from a big retirement city went down. Some of those players were the "crafty senior" type that's really a pretty good player - especially doubles, but they also had quite a few players that were at the lower end of the spectrum.

Like I said, it's just the luck of the draw who ends up there the same week you go. You can control this somewhat if you take a buddy. But, the pro's really do a good job of accomodating different skill levels of campers.

Sorry these were kinda long posts, but you asked a lot of questions.

If you have any other questions, ask.

11-05-2009, 09:44 PM
That's some great info guys! Don't worry about long posts Geezer Guy - more information is always good! I love the fact that you had some concrete numbers and distribution of 3.0~4.0+ players; makes me get a clearer picture of the camp there. Hey - half the experience of the camp is also in the quality of the other players there.

It also looks like there's a $100 rebate if you mention TennisResorts... so tempted.

11-10-2009, 11:18 AM
Ok - been thinking about this camp for a while and have a few more questions for Geezer guy or whoever else have been to Newks to help me visualize what happens once you get there.

(1) How do Newks divide up the groups / courts / instructors? That is, I assume there may be 20-25 players in the camp, with varying degrees of skills (2.5 vs. 4.0) and fitness (e.g. 25 year old can typically do a whole lot more drills than say a 65 year old - this is not to put down old guys but an example of division of fitness). Do they evaluate you based on some paper forms you fill out "3.5 NTRP, check. Age, 30, etc", or do they see how you hit in the first day's clinic, or some other method (e.g. social hitting on the actual Sunday arrival night)

(2) What is a typical day like for you? On the website, it says:
8am breakfast
9am chalk talk
9:30am clinic
12:00 lunch
2pm demo
2:15 clinic
4:30 match play
7pm dinner

Has this turned out to be accurate? Has your experience been very different (e.g. clinic actually starts at 10am, there was no match play after the clinics, match play went until 8pm and then had dinner, etc.)

This would also be interesting to hear from people who went to other camps to hear and contrast the typical session.

(3) Was the clinic focused more on singles skills, doubles skills, or general skills? While basic skills (forehand/backhand/volley/serve) does not necessarily need to be either singles or doubles focused, I assume that aiming certain targets (e.g. using the alleys), and certain strategy sessions will be dependent on whether it is singles or doubles. What has your experience been? What was the rough ratio between drills and matchplay been for you?

Thanks in advance for the insight!

Geezer Guy
11-10-2009, 08:39 PM
Man - that's a lot of questions!

1) On Sunday evening, after supper and a few beers, everyone goes out to the clay courts for a variety of fun drills and competitions. Some people (ahem) have been known to take drinks from the bar out with them to the courts, so it's VERY casual and laid back. We hit for about 2 hours, and this is the Pro's first chance to size everyone up. (There are no forms or evaluations ahead of time.) On Sunday night, everyone mixes with everyone. If you find yourself playing King of the Court with an 60 year old lady, you just do the best you can and as luck will have it you'll get another partner next time around. For the rest of the week, however, (if there's more than 4 or 5 players) you WILL be divided up by skill level. Sometimes they'll announce the courts by name (they learn everyone's name surprisingly quickly), and sometimes they just announce that all the 4.0's should go to court X, the 3.5's to Y, and everyone else to Z. They may tinker with the groups as the week goes on, and if you want to be in a different group you can just let them know. The Pro's are very accomodating. Also, if you go for the week-long program, there will probably not be anywhere near 20 people. There were 24 people ONE time I went there, but it was purely a coincidence: I arranged a group of about 10 from Kansas City, and there happened to be another large group from Arkansas along with several other individuals. Most times I've been to the weeklong program there have been 8 or less. (Still, the method is the same.)

2) It's pretty much like that. There are some slight variations which I started to go into, but it's pretty nit-picky stuff. The only deviation worth mentioning is that last year they started the afternoon sesson at 1:30 instead of 2:00, which cut my nap short by half an hour. I'll also note that at 4:30 (which was moved up to 4:00) the "match play" time is when the Pro's take off to do other things. So, if you have the energy and can find someone else that has the energy, you can play some singles or doubles or just try to groove the new strokes you learned that day. Or, you can hit the pool or the hot tub or the weight room or just grab a beverage and watch other people doing some of the above. (Joking about the weight room.) Almost every year that I've attended there's been someone that wanted to continue hitting at 4:30. And, by this time you've been hitting for 6 hours, so it doesn't really break your heart if no one is up to it.

Depends on the group, but most people start showing up at the bar around 6:30. Dinner is served promptly at 7 PM. The pro's take all their meals with the campers, and will hang out at the bar in the evening as long as anyone likes. And, everything runs very promptly. If they say somethings going to start at X, it starts at X. Now, if you don't get there till X:15, it's no big deal - as long as you don't mind a little ribbing.

3) The clinics and drills are focused a bit more on technical skills than how to apply those skills. Now, I'm not saying they don't talk strategy at all, because they do. But the drills just tend to be more skills based. For instance, say you're working on forehand groundstrokes. They'll get you totally grooved on hitting down the line, cross-court, short angle cross-court, inside out cross court, and inside out down the line. They may mention in passing WHEN you should hit those shots, but they don't draw an X's & O's type diagram about the WHENS and WHYS to pick one shot over another. They DO do it - some - but just not as much as I'd like. As for the ratio of drills to matchplay (not counting after 4:30), I'd guess it's maybe 60% drills (meaning hitting balls that are fed to you and getting on-court instruction) and 40% doing some sort of semi-cooperative, semi-competitive hitting (often keeping score) with another camper - while the Pro watches from the side and injects comments and instruction as necessary. This last part is dependent on the skill levels of whoever happens to show up that week, to some extent.

Oh - one more thing. You know John Newcombe OWNS the ranch - but he doesn't live there - right? You won't be on court with John unless you go to one of the Legends weeks.

Still, the whole thing has a very "Aussie" feel, as well as being somewhat international. The Pro's hail from all over, as do the Academy kids. And, come to think of it, so do the campers. I've been there with folks from China, Canada, and England as well as USA'ers.

As far as contrasting Newk's to other places, two big things jumped out at me. 1) That Newk's is kind of an "all inclusive" place where one price covers your tennis, all your meals, and your accomodations. Most people do not leave Newk's from Sunday afternoon to Friday afternoon (although you can if you want). and 2) the Pro's really seem to enjoy what they do, they want YOU to enjoy yourself, and they really, sincerely (I think) want you to improve. They will bend over backwards for you to get out of camp everything that you want to get out of it.

If those answers lead to more questions, just ask.

I guess the last thing I'll say is that I feel like I'm "hyping" this way too much, and that if you go your expectations will be so high that nothing could meet them. I don't want that to happen. I don't know if the current economic conditions have had any adverse effects on the ranch. But, the last time I looked in Tennis Resorts Online it was still getting good reviews. If you look there, do note that some reviews are for the week-END program and some are for the week-LONG program. Pay more attention to the reviews of the week-LONG program if that's what you're still considering.

Boy - some guys don't know when to just shut up.

11-10-2009, 08:53 PM
Listen up to what GeezerGuy says...he's spot on! I've been to Newks 8 times in the past 5 yrs and heading there again late November,just booked today. It doesn't really matter what level "you" think you are, they will place you with the best available and if there isn't a camper there good enough, they will call in the other pro's to hit with you. Keep an open mind and you will learn. I usually take private lessons before the main clinics and after the clinics, I guess I just can't get enough lessons. The group sizes have never been too crazy from my experience. Looking forward to seeing Sal and Chris again in a couple weeks. TJK you won't be disappointed.:)

Geezer Guy
11-11-2009, 06:33 AM
Man - that's a lot of questions!


Boy - some guys don't know when to just shut up.

Eh, just so there's no confusion TJK - I was referring to ME not knowing when to shut up.

TenS - I'm going back in VERY late November as well.

Big bag of squirrels
11-11-2009, 04:58 PM
I have been. It is great. Everything Geezer says is right on the money. I'm a borderline 3.5-4.0 and I learned a ton, and have seen a lot of improvement in my game thanks to them. When I was there it was fairly busy, my only advice would be to ask lots of questions and be proactive, don't be shy, you will definitely get more out of it that way.

Heck I'd go back just to hang out at the bar with Chris and Sal, they are that dang funny!

11-11-2009, 10:30 PM
I have been. It is great. Everything Geezer says is right on the money. I'm a borderline 3.5-4.0 and I learned a ton, and have seen a lot of improvement in my game thanks to them. When I was there it was fairly busy, my only advice would be to ask lots of questions and be proactive, don't be shy, you will definitely get more out of it that way.

Heck I'd go back just to hang out at the bar with Chris and Sal, they are that dang funny!
Seems like a good bet, I'd try it out.

11-16-2009, 10:31 AM
here's my review of nukes, saddlebrook and total tennis:

It sounds to me like saddlebrook is a little more in line with what you want but it doesn't offer the newk's great value or apres-tennis.

11-16-2009, 10:31 AM
here's my review of nukes, saddlebrook and total tennis:

It sounds to me like saddlebrook is a little more in line with what you want but it doesn't offer newk's great value or fun apres-tennis.

11-16-2009, 10:45 AM
Geezer Guy is a wealth of info on Newks...should change his screename to GeyserGuy!

I went there when my son attended on a winter break one year. I had the opportunity to join the adult program but opted to hit with my son's coach instead (former Davis cup player). We hit at various times that overlapped with the adult camp and so I was able to observe the levels, different drills, pro's, fitness, etc.

My overall sense was the players skill levels ranged from 3.0 to 4.0, no 4.5's from what I could tell. The sessions were well orchestrated and instruction was hands-on (decent pro to player ratio) with LOTs of time dedicated to practicing (i.e. hitting balls with constructive feedback). At the time, I thought it looked like a well designed program with the intensity dialed back a bit since the age and conditioning of the participants was not uniformly excellent.

I can tell you the juiniors got their $'s worth and the program was super intense. The conditioning and amount of playing these kids did was unreal. So overall, I think Newks is decent. Low key, good instruction, but not the nicest or most up to date digs however. Food was ok.

Geezer Guy
11-16-2009, 03:35 PM
Yeah, the Academy kids are pretty impressive, and fun to watch. When I first went there I expected to see all the kids hitting exactly the same way. A bunch of little robots or clones tracking the baseline and hitting their western forehands from an open stance and 2-fisted backhands. Boy was I surprised. While each kid can absolutely pummel the ball, there was a nice variety of styles and tactics, a fair numer of 1hbh's, and even some serve and volley players. While racquet throwing is absolutely prohibited, you can tell some of the kids are pretty hot tempered and others are cool as cucumbers no matter how tight the situation. Line calls were fair, and everyone seemed to be a pretty good sportsman. When they got mad or upset, it was with themself.

Geezer Guy
11-16-2009, 03:44 PM
here's my review of nukes, saddlebrook and total tennis:

Good reviews. I've wanted to go to Saddlebrook for a long time. One of these years I'm going to do it. I have a friend that's gone several times, and she speaks very highly of it.