By Randy Walker
The historic Sea Island Resort, set along the beautiful marshland on the coast of Georgia, is well known as an eco-system for professional golf.
No less than 30 professional golfers call the Sea Island area home, including former PGA champion Davis Love, III, former Masters champion Zach Johnson and 2012 Players’ champion Matt Kuchar. Three highly-regarded golf courses grace the property, including the Seaside Course that hosts the annual McGladrey Classic PGA Tour event, and make for an ideal training environment. Even a golf sports management company, Crown Sports Management, that represents Love, 2012 Fed Ex Cup Champion Brandt Snedeker and major champions Stewart Cink and Lucas Glover among others, is based in the neighborhood.
Murphy Jensen, the 1993 French Open men’s doubles champion and newly appointed Director of Tennis at Sea Island, wants to create his own ”pro tennis subculture” within the environs of this Georgia low country paradise.
“The best golfers in the world are here why wouldn’t you have the best tennis players?“ said Jensen during the recent USA vs. Brazil Davis Cup matches in Jacksonville, located about 70 miles south of Sea Island.
Patrons of Sea Island participating in golf lessons or practice sessions at their highly-regarded training center will often find themselves working out next to actual touring pros. Nothing would please Jensen more than if he could do the same, to an extent, on Sea Island’s tennis courts. Jensen would love to see some of the top tennis pros in the world enjoy the luxurious and five-star environment at Sea Island and treat it as an off-season training site, just as Miami is for Andy Murray and Dubai is for Roger Federer.
“For example, after the Sony Open in Key Biscayne, players can come up and rip it up here at Sea Island,“ said Jensen. “Vika Azarenka and I have been texting. She wants to come here and train and work out. It’s a great place to train and take a bit of a vacation too. You can unwind for five days or a few weeks or so. You can have privacy and receive the five-star treatment that professionals at their level expect.”
The Sea Island Resort features 16 tennis courts – eight at the main Cloister facility and another eight down the road at the facility called The Retreat. All the courts are Har-tru clay, but Jensen envisions converting some of the courts at The Retreat to European red clay, similar to that of the French Open, and some to Deco-Turf II, similar to the hard courts of the US Open. A grass court, to give the resort all of the Grand Slam court surfaces, is also a long-term goal.
Outside of the tennis and golf, Sea Island provides the highest quality of service and hospitality, featuring four Forbes Five-Star offerings. Adjacent to the Cloister tennis center is the five-star rated spa and gym, that also features squash. The accommodations at the five-star Cloister has the look and feel of a English castle where one can almost expect the staff to address you as “My Lord” or “My Lady” to suit the regal accommodations and the level of service. Within the Cloister sits the five-star rated Georgian Room restaurant that offers the some of the finest dining in the world. The five-star rated Lodge at Sea Island Golf Club features rooms with your own private butler and famed Colt & Alison, considered one of the nation’s top steakhouses.
“It takes an extraordinary place to draw either a super star athlete or a famous entertainer or a Wall Street superstar,” said Jensen. “You have to be able to provide services that are extraordinary for those people that have everything and that’s what we have here at Sea Island.”
The main thrust of business for Jensen and his Sea Island Murphy Jensen Tennis Academy is to cater to amateurs, where their revolutionary teaching methods for the modern game is based on instinctual tennis philosophy with the new “eye coach” technology that teaches timing and the proper way to look at the ball with a stationary ball device. Along with his doubles partner brother Luke, who spends 150 days a year at Sea Island as the resort’s touring pro, Jensen will be building tennis programming tailored for doubles players, the skills and talents that thrust the Jensen brothers to be the talk of the tennis world for much of the 1990s. The Jensen brothers also envision bringing in top-notch former pros to conduct “Fantasy Weeks” with amateur players who are able to interact, teach and play with tennis legends.
“I want to be able to bring in players like Martina Hingis or Boris Becker and Stefan Edberg and other friends from my era of the game and we can have a Boris Becker weekend or a Stefan Edberg weekend,” said Jensen, also the coach of the Washington Kastles of World Team Tennis. “They can help you with your games and you can get their perspective on your game and have an amazing experience.”
For more information on Sea Island, go to www.SeaIsland.com