Andres Durandegui first picked up a racket when he was 6 years old, learning the basics of tennis from his father in San Sebastian, Spain.
“I immediately took a liking to the sport when I was little
and wanted to play more and more,” Durandegui said. “Once I was getting
into tournaments and having some success, soon I didn’t want to do
anything else. My brother and sister did multiple sports, and I spent
all my time playing tennis.”
Tennis became a lifelong passion for Durandegui, as the sport earned him a scholarship to the University of Nevada, Reno and eventually ledto a two-decade stint running the Reno Tennis Centre, where he developed numerous players with world rankings.
Now, he will be sharing his passion and his expertise with guests at the Four Seasons Resort Lanai as the resort’s new tennis pro. He’ll be installing new programming there, while scouring the island for hidden talent to develop.
“It’s good for me to make a change and do something a little different,” he said. “It’s exciting for me and a great opportunity to move forward. Reno is beautiful, and I love the town and people, but ultimately they have a winter, and in winter it’s hard to operate a tennis business. There’s snow on the courts. There’s rain and wind. You can run programs for seven to eight months of the year, but the other four months you’re at the mercy of the weather. Here there’s work all the time, and I enjoy that.”
Durandegui will serve as the tennis pro for both the Four Seasons Resort Lanai and the Sensei Lanai, a Four Seasons Resort, a separate adults-only, wellness-focused property that opened on the island in November 2019.
Since his arrival in March, he has introduced a shot-of-the-day drill class that focuses on improving technique and mechanics for one type of shot, such as a slice or top spin. Another new offering is cardio tennis, an hourlong class for all levels with high-energy drills that will get players moving, improve footwork and burn some calories.
“I really want to offer a range of things people can do,” Durandegui said. “There will be multiple options for people to spend time on the court and get a lot out of it, from working on mechanics to just hitting around and activities that get you a great aerobic workout.”
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The Four Seasons Resort offers both hard courts and a green clay court for practice and games on different surfaces and features a spectator area. The Pro Shop offers racquet rental and stringing, and complimentary demo racquets, balls and court shoes are available for resort guests.
One big factor for Durandegui in making the decision to move from northern Nevada was the chance to run a free tennis program for children on Saturdays for Lanai, a close-knit community of 3,000 people. Every weekend kids ages 7 to 14 are bused from the town to the resort to participate in lessons, drills and matches.
“Being able to put those classes in place was very important to me when I was hired,” Durandegui said. “It offers something else for the kids on the island, and I enjoy teaching kids and watching them become better players, watching them learn how to hit properly and develop. Who knows? Maybe some will go on to college and get a scholarship like me.”
Durandegui has also established beginner pickleball classes at the resort, jumping on with a top sports trend in the U.S.
“Pickleball is the fastest-growing sport in the U.S., that’s a fact,” he said. “Anyone can play, and it’s especially a good activity for seniors. For someone who can’t move around as much to play tennis — maybe they have a hip or knee injury — they can play pickleball much easier. It’s lots of reflexes and fast points. It’s growing so fast because it’s an extremely fun sport. Tennis is more serious, but even when you lose a point in pickleball you end up laughing and enjoying it. It’s a different experience.”
Participants in the one-hour pickleball class learn everything required to play the game, including dink shots; volleys and drop shots; and scoring and strategy.
Another service Durandegui wants to introduce is a player match system for guests, so tennis players can find opponents who match their level from among the guests.
“We get players of all levels who come to the resort, and a lot of people want to hit around and play someone else, not always have a lesson,” he said. “So, I think it’s a great service we can offer that makes people want to come back, to have people sign up with their info and level and be able to find someone for you to play with.”
Coming out of the Covid-19 pandemic and with guest numbers steadily increasing, Durandegui is enthusiastic about offering more programs that span all ages and levels, and growing the existing programs.
“My goal is to get repeat visitors,” Durandegui said. “Not multiple trips to Lanai, but within one stay. If a guest comes for one class, I want them to have so much fun and meet other people to play with, so they are back at the courts later in their stay or maybe signing up for a different class. I want guests who come back because they had such a good experience.”
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