Teaching tennis here in Corfu has been one of the most rewarding
experiences of my life, and also has been the most challenging.
One of these challenges is getting equipment, such as racquets,
balls, shoes, etc. In this article I'll describe some of
my arrival in Corfu, I was given 100 Euro (about 125USD)
to buy enough tennis balls (72) to fill up my teaching basket
and have a few cans left for 'playing' lessons. I figured
with 100 euro I could maybe buy 30 cans of balls easily.
Boy, was I wrong. I finally found the store, saw that the
price of a single can of balls was 7.50 euro, and almost
had a heart attack. I figured, ok, I'd just try and buy
a case of 24 and get the price reduced. I talked to the
store clerk/racquet stringer/local expert and he said, "No,
the price is still the same whether you buy 1 or 100 cans".
My response was the 'typical' response Americans use when
living abroad: "Back in the states I can buy 50 cans for
100 euro", which, his reply was, "You not in America anymore"!
at the store, still in shock and 120 euro lighter (20 cans,
he took pity on me and gave me a 'deal'), I looked at the
racquets and prices were definitely not what I was used
too. An example: a Wilson 5.2 tennis racquet can be had,
over the Internet for roughly 100 USD. Here, in Corfu, this
discontinued racquet goes for 280 euro UNSTRUNG. The junior
version of this same racquet (26 inches) costs 220 euro
strung. I asked about 'demos' and the clerk/racquet stringer/local
expert said, "What's that?" No problem, now I know, I thought
to myself. I saw 3 Wilson junior racquets (25,23,21 inches
respectively) and was delighted (?) that I only had to pay
45 euro for each one!
in the store, armed with 20 cans of balls and 3 junior racquets,
I noticed the stringing machine, an electronic, digital
Technifiber model. The sign above said 'same machine as
used at Roland Garros', home of the French Open. Looking
at the prices of the string and starting to finally realize
that I wasn't in Sports Authority anymore, I asked if this
price included stringing the racquet. No, that's extra.
40 euro for Prince Tournament Nylon is a little steep for
me, regardless of the machine. Considering the fact that
you can buy a whole reel of this string in the USA (enough
for 20 racquets) for about the same price as 1-package costs
here, I took a pass and moved on.
shoe department was where I headed next. This store has
a large selection of tennis specific shoes and the prices
were out of this world, or at least the world I used to
know. The prices of socks were also much, much higher then
what I was used to. I was starting to realize why the local
people don't play tennis very much, and I needed to find
a way to do something about it.
I gathered enough energy to leave the store when I remembered
I needed some overgrips. I'm now completely prepared that
these will not be 3 for 5 bucks like I'm used to back home.
I said to the clerk, " may I have 2 overgrips please", meaning
2 packages. The guy, and I'm not kidding, opened up the
package, took 2 out, and said "I'll give you a deal. "10
euro please". No, I'm definitely not in America anymore.
I bought 20 cans of balls for 120 euro, 3 junior racquets
for 135 euro, 6 overgrips for 30 euro for a grand total
of 285 euro. In the USA, these same things would've cost
a third of the cost, which is a good indication of why you
don't see too many Greek players playing on TV. I want to
change all of that.
tennis affordable is my top priority as far as the local
people of Corfu are concerned. Lower lesson prices, good
prices from companies like www.megaage.com, donations of
racquets and balls from tourists and locals have helped
immensely. The next step is to find corporate sponsors to
really make an impact and maybe, just maybe, the next great
tennis champion will be from Corfu!!
teaching tennis in Corfu has been a rewarding experience
and one I'll treasure forever. I may not be in America,
as the store clerk said, but maybe, just maybe, a little
of America can visit Corfu!
Naessens is the Director of Tennis/Head Tennis Professional
at the Corfu Holiday Palace in Corfu, Greece. For information
regarding the many programs for tourists and locals, contact
Phil at firstname.lastname@example.org.