“What did you learn at Newk’s Camp?”

With Roy Emerson
With Roy Emerson
That is a question I get asked every time the subject of this fabulous annual experience comes up in conversation. But it is very tough to answer.

Sure, we learn how to hit a volley better… where to stand in doubles … how to get more pop on your serve. But those are minor things compared to the major lesson I have learned over my dozen years of going to camp.

Like most “campers” I first came to New Braunfels looking forward to getting some pointers from the great legends of tennis in person. But now, like most of the others, we return for the sheer joy of being with each other – and the tennis Legends.

Life’s Lesson

Since Roy Emerson and I “shared” prostate cancer surgery about the same time eight years ago, I have had a renewed sense of the really important lesson to be learned…

Life and health are precious – and fleeting. Enjoy and expand both while you can.

Rookie Campers

Evidence of this two camps ago, when there was an 80-year-old “rookie camper,” who just always wanted to come to Fantasy Tennis. And then that was surpassed this past year by Dick Eitel who flew in from Seattle WA to attend his first Fantasy Camp AT THE AGE OF 86. Just two examples of people who still have the desire to check things off their “bucket list.”

In the words of George Bernard Shaw, “You don’t stop playing because you grow old. You grow old because you stop playing.”

Your thoughts?

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6 thoughts on ““What did you learn at Newk’s Camp?”

  1. Tennis for me is as much of a personal growth journey as it is a sport that love. This will be my first experience at Newk’s in October and I am most interested in the camaraderie.

    My perception is that this camp will be as much a fun mastermind group as it is a Tennis Fantasy Camp! Looking forward to it!

    Jim, looking forward to seeing you there! george

  2. Ah, Tennis Fantasies. What I like to call the Triple B’s — beer, backhands and bullsh!t.

    I have attended TF camp every year since 1993, with only one year off (2000) when I had a work conflict. That makes 7 consecutive years, followed by 16 more consecutive years. I still can recall that the week of TF for that one year that I had to take off was, absolutely, the most miserable week of my life.

    I used to talk about why we loved to attend TF with fellow camper Mike Lawhon when he was alive. (This was usually over some single malt scotches — Macallan 18 normally, which was one of Mike’s favorites — while sitting in the chairs that he put out in front of his hacienda named Margaritaville.) At the time of his untimely death in early 2004, I believe Mike had attended every TF up to that point, including the first camp in 1988. October 2003 was Mike’s last year. That was 16 consecutive years. Before his death, Mike and I reached agreement on why we loved to attend.

    It wasn’t just the tennis. It wasn’t just the intense competition in a team format. It wasn’t just the opportunity to get great instruction, to learn new things, to refine techniques, to perfect new strategies. It wasn’t just the great (and abundant) food. It wasn’t just the opportunity, despite the great food, to get into great shape after a week of, literally, running 15+ miles every day. It wasn’t just the (usually) dry, sunny and nearly perfect Texas weather. It wasn’t just the chance to sneak away (if you got there a day early or late) and listen to some great music at Gruene Hall or elsewhere in the Hill Country. It wasn’t just to get to hang out with larger than life tennis heros from our younger days, all of whom are great guys in real life. It wasn’t just the opportunity to hear the Legends’ fabulously entertaining stories, to learn “insider” things about the tennis industry, the present and former ATP tours, the Davis Cup, the Fed Cup, etc. It wasn’t just the thrill of playing a deciding match — and having whether your entire team wins or loses on YOUR shoulders — with the likes of John Newcombe, Roy Emerson, Fred Stolle or somebody like that coaching or opposing you.

    It was, inevitably, about each other. It was to be part of a (rather exclusive, but ever expanding) fraternity of guys who were all tennis fanatics and who had completely different personalities but somehow, who had developed this intensely close camaraderie, mutual respect, and even (I dare say) love for each other. It was about getting to see our “mates” after spending a year apart.

    And in the greatest tradition of the best generation of tennis players of all time — the Aussie Legends — isn’t that what tennis, and life, are all about?

    Marty, well said! thanks, george

  3. I echo everything Marty said in his post. I was fortunate to be Mike Lawhon’s roommate those 16 years at Tennis Fantasies in the Margaritaville bungalow! We can to the same conclusion that it is about the friendships and the Legends! I am so lucky to have been a part of this great tradition for 27 of the 28 years and hope for many more. Plus a big shout out to the Contardi family – Steve, Debbie, Mario and Katie!

  4. Good stuff George and Marty….
    As much as you guys enjoy it we do also,as Marty said the feeling of winning an important match for the team,trumps it all.
    We enjoy pushing you,yelling at you bullshitting with you ,but the feeling of all being part of a special group of blokes makes it all work.
    Looking forward to seeing Marty play another short three hour matching October
    Keep up the good work George,always interesting.
    Best regard,
    Fred ( Dunnies Forever)

  5. Wonderful thoughts from you all. I did not know that so many of you have attend for so many years and keep re-upping year after year. What a special experience, and so interesting to hear all your thoughts. I was watching the Legends at the LA Forum at age 16, and craving any material I could find on each of them (no Internet in 1966, so had to soak most of it in at the Forum live). Very thankful to be involved in tennis at that wonderful time, and that George W. helps us continue experiencing such great tennis moments and people. Thanks for your efforts, George!

    Paige, it is a Labor of Tennis Love… and fueled by comments like yours. George

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