Tennis player was impressed by hospitality

Published 5:19 am Tuesday, July 2, 2013

When our team won the tennis city championship in Atlanta, the first question we asked was, “Where is State?” And that was then followed by, “Where is Bainbridge?” Like many teams, we had no idea what to expect, and we were concerned about going so far away for a tournament… Let me tell you, our worries were completely unfounded.

For those of you who decided not to be adventurous, you missed a fabulous tournament. From the staff to the volunteers, I’ve never seen a tournament run as smoothly. I think this was the happiest tournament I’ve ever played in or volunteered for. Everywhere we went, the community greeted us, they asked us about tennis, and there were signs everywhere welcoming us (even at the dry cleaners!). I am not kidding about this — almost every waitress we had told us that they had played on the high school tennis team.

Door-to-door (minus a small navigator snafu), we made the trip from East Cobb in four hours. It was a beautiful drive straight down through Columbus, although I would caution those driving that route to watch for police here and there as the roads are nice enough to tempt you to speed a bit. We arrived at our hotel, the Holiday Inn Express, where we were greeted by a great staff and given clean, comfortable rooms … and they never ran out of ice! We hit the Walmart across the street for a few supplies, the Olive Grove for some libations, and headed over to the captains’ meeting at Southwind Plantation, a beautiful hunting and fishing adventure lodge. Seriously, we are staying there next year! Afterwards, we had a fun dinner with a lot of other tennis players at Bonnie Blue House.

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We hit the courts at the Bainbridge Tennis Center on Friday, where we were surprised to find a beautiful two-story building with a pro shop, 360-degree viewing on the second floor, and shaded seating and cold water for the players on every court. They even had recycling bins. It was like being at a private club, not a public facility. We celebrated two great victories with some margaritas at Beef O’Brady’s, then headed over to the player party in the beautiful hall at the college. What fun! The volunteers actually waited on the players, serving drinks and making sure everyone was well fed and having fun. There must have been 50 door prizes — I think every business in the city contributed something. After some great barbecue, we danced the night away.

Saturday was another fun day at the courts — first we had great matches at the high school — we were impressed to see that they have 10 courts. Afterwards, we had lunch at Crave, where we chatted with the owner, and enjoyed fabulous chicken salad, spicy pimiento cheese, and incredible fried green tomatoes (one order was about a dozen slices of tomato).

We were back at the tennis center for our late match, and some of the girls from the Bainbridge team that we had played in the morning came over and invited us to join them for dinner at Crave. So sweet. But we already had a reservation at The Pond House, and they had called us to make sure we were coming, so we felt we had to keep that reservation. We were glad we did. After driving about 15 miles into the country and onto a gravel road, we arrived at a crowded log cabin restaurant with rocking chairs lining the front porch. We had read online that they were famous for steaks and bone-in pork chops, so that is what we ordered. I have never in my life tasted a pork chop as delicious as this one. Seriously, I would drive to Bainbridge just for that chop.

We were in first place after four rounds, but Sunday was too tough. We didn’t win, but we had a great time losing… What more can you ask? Thank you, Bainbridge, for hosting a fabulous tournament! Oh, and thank you to the wonderful volunteer who brought me ice after I whacked myself on the forehead after chasing down a lob.

Can’t wait ‘till next year!

Karen Pline

USTA Atlanta, 4.0 team