Tennis is having a moment with people who tend to mood boards — or at least follow a few on social media. Translated: tennis is a visual sport. It's fun to watch, with its colosseum-like courts, coach-filled crowds and magnificent trophies; plus, it fits nicely in the luxury, light exercise and leisure archetype plenty on social media peddle. (You know, the types that wear pastel sweat suits, post vintage watch ads and overshare their wellness "journeys.")
But for every account pushing the "modern country club" agenda, defined by preppy clothing, expensive cars and green juices, there's another making the sport more fun, and accessible to everyone. Tripp, a clothing brand that donates 100-percent of its profits to tennis charities, makes rap tees for the sport's biggest stars. Oyster Tennis Club hosts weekly match meet-ups with an emphasis on introducing first-timers to the game. Racquet is a quarterly magazine that covers art, fashion, culture and, of course, fitness through the lens of tennis, tapping some of the most talented writers on the inside and outskirts of the sport for each issue. Furi Sport strives to turn the once elitist activity into something anyone can try.
All of these emphasize their digital existences, a clear attempt at capitalizing on the very online audience tennis captivates. But The Courts, a compound comprising four tennis courts, a pool, a design-forward clubhouse and a court-green camper you can rent on Airbnb, is an isolated anomaly in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. There, lessons with Coach Jaroslav happen concurrent with brainstorming sessions for The Courts' internal design studio, Practice, run by co-owners, artists and couple, Adil Dara and Leah Goren. (The pair's practice — pun intended — was New York-located originally, like them, but it moved too. They boast past clients like Airbnb, Away, The New York Times, Nike, Target and The Gap, to name a few.)
While much of their, meaning Dara and Goren, attention is dedicated to client projects, the property is quite the spectacle, a true instance of Instagram come to life (in a good, surprisingly unspoiled kind of way). The backdrop (mountains in the distance, five acres of desert oasis in-between) of course helps, but there's no place, at least visually, quite like The Courts. For those passing through the Anza-Borrego Desert, you must visit. Schedule a session with Coach Jaroslav and sit in the clubhouse, or by the pool, for a few hours. Hell, stay the night (if availability allows).
The Courts is a retreat along a picturesque two-lane thoroughfare. It's also a stark departure from manicured, heavily monitored country clubs on the east coast or elsewhere in California. "Growing up I learned tennis culture was synonymous with affluent society. I can only speak to my own experience as an immigrant growing up in suburban America playing on public tennis courts," Adil told Hunker.
For those far away, fear not. The Courts maintains an incredible e-shop offering where you can buy, instead of overpriced gear and local real estate guides, artist-drawn graphic tees, custom Nalgene bottles, colorful, tennis-themed hand towels, designer sunscreen, CBD muscle balm, limited-edition Baggus and charitable caps.