Tennis Wine
Tennis and Wine Camp participants raise their rackets in a toast.

Even adults enjoy a fun-filled week at summer camp, especially when camp means tennis lessons and wine tasting.

Harper’s Bazaar knows this. That’s why the New York-based magazine included the Whitman tennis team’s annual Tennis and Wine Camps in their recent article about the best adult summer getaways in the nation. Other top getaways included a women’s wellness retreat in Costa Rica, a technology-free escape in California and a ranch retreat combining yoga and horse riding.

John Hein and Jeff Northam ’88 give campers some on-court pointers.

Each year, Tennis and Wine Camp participants receive 12 hours of on-court instruction from experienced tennis coaches, including Greg Patton, the head men’s coach at Boise State University, and both men’s and women’s head coaches at Whitman, Jeff Northam '88 and John Hein.

In addition to spending time on the courts, campers are treated to three nights of wining and dining, featuring dinner prepared by local chefs and wine pairings from several award-winning Walla Walla Valley vineyards. Coaches enjoy these dinners almost as much as they enjoy playing tennis.

“I have always loved eating, and the chefs in Walla Walla take it to a whole new level,” Hein said.

Northam came up with the idea for the camp years before it became a reality.

“I just thought of the strengths of Walla Walla. The wine is phenomenal, and there’s great food in town. Plus, a lot of tennis players are wine enthusiasts already, so it just seemed like a good blend.”

wine and dine
Campers enjoy a dinner featuring some of the best food and wine the Walla Walla Valley has to offer.

Three years ago, local businessman and Seven Hills Winery partner Tom Sawatzi partnered with Whitman’s tennis program, and Northam’s idea became a reality. Since then, the camp has grown immensely. What began as one session of 12 people in 2011 is now four sessions of 24 people.

Both Whitman coaches said sharing their love for tennis with new people was their favorite aspect of the camp. Hein hopes the recognition in Harper’s Bazaar will encourage more campers to visit Walla Walla.

“To get national recognition for something we have spent almost no money advertising demonstrates how much the camp resonates with everyone who experiences it ….  I had no idea that ‘adult camps’ were becoming popular. I just know that we have a special thing going and want to share it with more people, because each camp we make new friends,” he said.

All proceeds from the camp sessions go toward funding the Whitman men’s and women’s tennis programs. The all-inclusive cost for the camp is $945, and campers can receive discounts if they register early.

The Harper’s Bazaar list marks the second time this year that the camp has scored points on a national scale. In March, they were featured in The Wall Street Journal as one of the most fun sports camps for adults.

“It's really awesome, and a little overwhelming. To see the camp grow has been so special and so fun,” Northam said.