A tennis holiday at La Manga Club in Spain

amanda statham at la manga in spain
Aced it! The best tennis getaway Amanda Statham

Tennis is having a moment. Wimbledon’s here, Zendaya’s movie Challengers revealed a saucy side to the sport that got us all intrigued and shops are awash with tenniscore fashion.

It's all piqued my interest in a game I used to LOVE when I was younger but, post-kids, have found hard to get back into. Even though my children have had lessons, in truth they don't always make the best opponents, 'Mum, look how many balls I can fit on my racquet!' 'Mum, let’s just play in the small squares!'.

So when I read about La Manga Club serving up some of the best tennis facilities and coaching in Europe, I decided to pay a visit. Set in Murcia, a sleepy stretch of land and coast between Málaga and Alicante in southern Spain, sports resort La Manga was a big deal in the 90s, when the England football team trained there and active celebs sought privacy in the palatial villas.

Things took a bit of a nosedive in the 'OOs, however thanks to major investment it looks like it's back to its heyday, including the launch of five-star Grand Hyatt La Manga Golf & Spa last year, a spruced up Racquets Club and improved golf and footie facilities. I flew to Murcia Airport and within 30 minutes was pulling up at the entrance, result.

So tell me about the tennis...

the racquets club la manga
The Racquets Club La Manga

The magic happens a ten-minute walk from Grand Hyatt at The Racquets Club, a buzzy tennis hub with 28 courts, shop, bar, restaurant and two-floor gym and fitness centre, which hotel guests can use for free.

I was booked in for lessons with coach Angel Martinez, who turned out to be as patient and calm as his name suggests. We began by working on my forehand and he instantly spotted that I need to give myself more room, adjusted my grip slightly, moved my feet into a better position and, this was a revelation, playing way back from the baseline and hitting the ball as it was moving downwards post-bounce, allowing me more time and control.

We played on a clay court (made from recycled bricks) which produces super bounce, and also turns your trainers turn pink. Apparently there are special trainers for clay (as opposed to my bright white Adidas) which you can buy In the onsite shop, though try not to get distracted by all the must-have Lucky in Love tennis gear. Tennis stars who have trained there in the past include Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray, so you’re walking in the pink-hued footsteps of giants.

amanda statham and coach angel martinez at la manga
Amanda Statham

Angel also addressed my backhand and, after a few key tips (lead with the left hand rather than the right and slice across rather than up), and I was hitting ball after ball consistently across the net. The beauty of a private lesson is how quickly you improve, with dozens of practice shots both across court and down the line. We ended our session with a short rally and a gallon of water (it was 28 degrees and my face was pinker than Barbie’s convertible) back at the bar and restaurant.

Looking around, I realised The Racquets Club is about far more than simply playing tennis. Taken over by Brit couple Nick and Sally Munns back in 2021, it's been transformed into a lively social scene that attracts a really varied crowd, from groups of mates and couples to solos and families, and it was surprisingly busy at 1pm on a Wednesday afternoon in June.
Apparently you live 9,7 years longer if you regularly play tennis, and it’s probably not just the cardio that’s causing the increase, it’s also the sociability and keeping the brain sharp with all that hand-eye coordination.

table at la racquets club la manga
The Racquets Club La Manga

A daily academy runs from 9-11am and classes have a minimum of three people or maximum of 6, and it’s a bargain €310 for the week. Throw in a couple of private lessons and you’re going to be returning home with a forehand to rival Emma Ranucanu, possibly.

Is there padel tennis too?

Yes! The Racquets Club is getting its slice of profit from the world’s fastest-growing sport, with seven flood-lit padel courts and coaching on offer. Keen to give it a go and see what all the fuss is about, I booked a lesson with Angel and the hour was a riot of fast, furious squash-meets-tennis action.

If you’ve never tried it, do. You need four people to play (there’s that social longevity thing again) and the rules and style are wild compared to tennis - you can play the (indented ball) off the back and side walls, the bat’s plastic and you need to get lower down to play (plenty of knee bending, thigh action goes down in padel).

padel tennis at la manga
Amanda Statham

Angel was soon firing one-bounce shots at the wall for me to whack back across the net, alternating forehand and back hand, and it felt like I’d been playing for ages. For me, it felt much easier than tennis and I can see why it’s such a global hit - you can even serve underarm. Cardio-wise I felt it was more of a work out too, and I was genuinely gutted when our hour was up. Verdict? Padel is like tennis’ younger, less serious sibling and I want to play again asap.

Did you try any other sports?

La Manga’s famous golf and its three 18-hole courses attract all the big names in the golfing world (apparently Severiano Balesteros used to have a villa there), so when in Rome and all that.

golf course at la manga club
La Manga Club

A one-hour lesson with Director of Golf Craig Donnelly was way more enjoyable than I’d anticipated, not least because of the high-tech tuition bays. He's a friendly Scottish PGA pro who took over the job in March ‘24 and can dissect your swing using all kinds of whizzy tech, though one of the most effective training methods was a huge metal oval that looked like something from Cirque du Soleil, which you step inside and use as a guide for your swing.

He also has heat pads for your feet, which show where you’re distributing your weight, and a box that analyses your swing and shows the results on a large screen, from power to club head tilt. I topped my first few shots, but as I drove an iron down beneath the ball and it soared into the air, it was a (literal) high and I quickly lined up another ball. The trick that caused the difference? Craig drew a line of chalk on the floor and said I needed to create dust to show I was striking the earth rather than trying to lift the ball. Simple yet super effective.

tennis womens health uk
tennis womens health uk

Hearst Owned

My stats were pretty good and we chatted about the recent surge in women golfers (millions took up the sport post-pandemic), particularly younger players thanks to female-focused junior programmes. It feels like there’s been a real shift from when I learnt years ago, back when it was still very much a male-dominated sport (some clubs didn't even allow women members!), and my lesson made me realise it's not too late to get back into the, ahem, swing of things.

Golf’s another great sport for increasing longevity btw, with those who play the beautiful game upping the length of their life by up to five years - so even if you think it’s ‘a good walk spoiled’, it’s still helping your health.

La Manga also has a popular football academy, a team from Saudi Arabia were just about to fly in to train for a month when I visited and perhaps the England team should consider doing the same after their lacklustre performance in the Euros. It runs holiday programmes, so if you’re inspired by the Lionesses, you know where to book for your next break.

Any down time?

a pool with lounge chairs and umbrellas by it
Grand Hyatt La Manga Golf & Spa

I was only there for three days, but yes, I did manage to relax as well as run around in the sunshine clutching various racquets, bats and clubs. Grand Hyatt La Manga’s two pools are rather lovely, particularly the adult-only infinity pool which looks out over the golf course, palm trees and mountains beyond.

a swimming pool in a building
Grand Hyatt La Manga Golf & Spa

Alma spa is a haven of relaxation beneath a starry ceiling. I hung out in the thalassophery pool and eucalyptus fragranced steam room before enjoying a lavender oil massage by expert therapist Karima. An exquisite experience, starting with a foot scrub then working out knots and ending with a short facial, a true top-to-toe experience.

An early evening stroll into the Calblanque Nature Reserve was another highlight. Palatial villas behind palms and bright bougainvillea-clad walls ring La Manga, but once you get beyond them it’s a wild landscape of hills, dusty paths, bush and pines hiding chameleons and lizards.

hiking in murcia by amanda statham
Amanda Statham

Hanging out in my room (164) was also a treat. With a terrace overlooking a mountain and palm trees, a huge bed, sofa, speedy WiFi, smart TV and a sparkling bathroom with Balmain toiletries, it was a haven to return to each night and wake up to sunrise turning the mountain slopes from pink to orange.

What about the food, as varied as the sport?

Grand Hyatt La Mango has TWELVE dining options. Obviously I didn’t get to sample all of them (I gave it my best shot, but even I wasn’t that hungry), but I can report the morning buffet is outrageously good - a variety of Spanish jambon, delicious fresh green juices, omelette station, tables laden with fresh fruit and, my favourite, a cereal area with dozens of bowls of healthy toppings, including chia, sunflower seeds, turmeric and maccha.

poke bowl at grand hyatt la manga
Grand Hyatt La Manga Golf & Spa

A poké bowl with salmon, mango, rice served al fresco at La Terrace was the perfect light lunch before an afternoon of sport, ditto a sublime Murcia salad at poolside restaurant Sol Y Sombra, stacked high with regional produce including capers, seared slices of tuna, olives, cucumber and lettuce.

Guests rave about popular Don Luigi Trattoria, decked out like an rustic Italian eatery, with wooden tables, geraniums in pots and dishes of authentic antipasto and handmade pizzas you'd expect to find in Naples rather than Murcia. And I adored La Cala, its ocean front seafood restaurant.

sushi at grand hyatt la manga
Grand Hyatt La Manga Golf & Spa

Perhaps best of all though was a sushi experience at Hatsuni Japanese Bar, where I sat at a bar and was served the tasting menu which included delicate dishes like red tuna tartar and salmon nigiri, expertly created in front of me as I sipped a divine matcha tea, cava, Sake and ginger cocktail. Tip: The seating at low-lit bar is excellent for solo travellers as you avoid the 'are you dining alone?’ situation when waiters make a big show of clearing away the other place setting. Here you simply rock up and face the chef.

Anything else?

I thought the service was exceptional. There’s a family atmosphere created by an experienced team, some of whom have been at the resort for decades. Nothing was too much trouble and everything was very relaxed, from changing a dining time to deciding to have a padel lesson on a whim. One staff member told me that Spanish people are warm, but people from Murcia are renowned for their exceptional friendliness, and I can believe it.


Whether you’re a golf, tennis or football pro or you want to try these sports for the first time, La Manga Club has got your back. I was genuinely surprised how much I enjoyed my padel and golf lessons, which made me realise it’s really easy to get stuck in a sport and exercise rut, sticking to what you know (yoga, pilates and swimming in my case). A place like La Mange makes it easy to try new things in an environment that’s encouraging rather than intimidating. However if you just want to go for the fabulous food, spa and swimming pools, you won’t be disappointed.

Go there!

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