5 Things to Do at the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters

Last weekend my other half and I drove down to Monaco to spend the weekend in Monte Carlo for the semi-finals and finals of the ATP 1000 tournament. Despite the fact that every player we were supporting lost (Pouille, Goffin, Lopez, Ramos) we still had a great weekend. Here are some of the things we got up to and some tips for anyone who is planning to go to the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters next year.

40ish_love Monte Carlo

1. Stay at the Monte Carlo Bay Hotel and Resort

The Monte Carlo Bay Hotel and Resort is a 5 minute walk from the Monte Carlo Country Club, where the Masters takes place, and is where many of the tennis players stay. We arrived on Saturday, when most of the players had already left, but we still got to see Wawrinka, Berdych, Ramos, Cuevas, Moya, in the lobby, the gym, the restaurant… And with their height and size they stand out so much that there is no missing them! The hotel isn’t cheap, but by staying Saturday and Sunday (rather than Friday and Saturday) we were able to save quite a bit of money.

2. Take a Photo with an Oversized Tennis Racket

Yes, that’s me with my massive Head racket at the top of this post.  This is an obligatory rite of passage for any serious tennis tournament-goer.

3. Take Your Own Snacks

During the break between the two singles semi-finals, we went to get a couple of crepes with Nutella and some drinks. Although the crepes were yummy, the prices were quite obscene (5 euros for a small bottle of water!), and as the queues were so long we didn’t manage to get back to our seats in time for the second semi-final (between Goffin and Nadal) and missed the first three games.

4. Run the Formula One Circuit

Running is a great way to visit a new place (and work off the Nutella crepes, or just build up an appetite for more) and we decided to get to know Monte Carlo a bit better by running the Formula One circuit. As the Formula One takes place a few weeks after the Masters, the circuit is already marked by the fencing lining the roads. We went through the marina, past shops that were cashing in on the Masters theme, saw many super cars and ended up having breakfast at what must be the most scenic Starbucks in the world.

Run selfie Monte Carlo

Shopping Monte Carlo

Running Monte Carlo Casino

Starbucks Monte Carlo

5. Visit Djokovic’s restaurant Eqvita

If you are a tennis fan, then you will already know that Novak Djokovic and his wife Jelena have a restaurant called Eqvita in Monte Carlo. We only popped in for a protein shake, but will make sure we stop for lunch next time to test out the plant-based menu.

Eqvita Djokovic's Restaurant

If you’d like to see some video footage from our days at the tournament to get a better feel for what it is like, take a look at my YouTube video on the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters 2017:



Review: QLIPP Tennis Sensor

During my long tennis career 😉 I have tried a couple of different tennis sensors – my partner has the Babolat POP (which I have already reviewed for this blog) and I have used the Zepp tennis sensor. The Babolat POP has been a great success and my partner uses it for every single training or match. I have not used the Zepp so much as I have the flex mount that sticks out of the end of the racket, and it feels a bit strange to play with – I think I will need to buy the pro mount that will allow me to attach the sensor directly to the end of the racket. Now if, like me, you follow lots of tennis accounts on Instagram, you will have recently noticed a deluge of posts about the QLIPP dampener sensor. It looks like the makers of QLIPP are following the modern trend of using Instagram accounts with a high number of followers to promote products. And I was lucky enough to be one of those Instagram accounts! (Update: they have now also created a discount code for me, and so if you buy a QLIPP sensor with the code “helenqlipp” or directly from this link, you will get a 10% discount.)

The QLIPP tennis sensor is a dampener that collects information about your shots on an application installed on your smart phone. It retails at around 100 US dollars and can be shipped internationally for free. It is a little heavier than typical dampeners, but the extra weight did not bother me, and I liked the dampening effect it gave. Once you have installed the app onto your phone, you need to turn on the sensor, and it should pair automatically (provided you have Bluetooth turned on). You then start the sensor from the app and start playing. I left my phone on the chair at the side of the court, and the sensor did disconnect a couple of times, but in almost all cases it reconnected itself straight away. I recorded 20 minutes of my training, and afterwards I was able to get a summary of the whole session in terms of average speed, sweet-spot and spin power as well as a log of each stroke. It will distinguish flat shots from those with slice or top spin, for both backhand and forehand. In addition to providing information on each session, it also shows your progress across sessions, so you can see whether you are improving on any of the aforementioned parameters. One thing it does not do (as far as I could tell) is allow you to separate training sessions from matches, which would be a useful feature to see whether your performance is affected by those match nerves (well, I already know that this is the case, I just don’t know by how much!)

Another feature it has, and which I tested out, is the possibility to video yourself whilst using the sensor. In addition to being able to see how your footwork and loading affects your speed and accuracy, a good use of this feature is to check whether the sensor is distinguishing correctly between the slices and top-spin shots etc. This is something that is difficult to gauge with other tennis sensors, and you have to just trust that they are working correctly. I did notice that my battery drained quite quickly with this video feature (which I used for 16 minutes in total), so it is not something you would want to use for a whole match or training session.

The final main feature, which I have not yet used, is related to the service. This is something I am really keen on using as I really hope to see an increase in my service speed in the coming months. If I manage to see any improvements, I’ll be sure to share the QLIPP statistics with you here!

What to Wear To Play Tennis in the Spring

Although it is still a bit touch and go, the weather has certainly improved in Italy and I have already trained outside at least 3 times (take a look at my YouTube video to catch some clips of me training for the first time outside on clay this year). As we move from winter to spring, my everyday wardrobe starts to lighten up and I begin to replace black and grey with navy blue and white (I know, super adventurous!). I now need to do the same with my tennis wardrobe, and slowly wean myself off the dark hues I have been sporting these past few months, so that come Wimbledon I will be ready to don my tennis whites like a pro!

This task has actually been made very easy, as Tennis Warehouse Europe have just sent me a range of new spring tennis outfits to review, all by an Italian brand called Australian. Living in Italy, I was actually already familiar with this brand – my tennis coach is usually decked out in one of their tracksuits and I bought a black skirt from them last year as a last-minute addition to my wardrobe for tennis camp (it was one of the few tennis items I could find in my small town in the middle of August!) The brand is immediately recognizable from the cool kangaroo logo, and you may remember seeing it on the outfits of the Italian female Fed Cup players.

I decided to make a video of me trying on the outfits for my YouTube channel (see below), as I think that gives you the best impression of what the pieces look like when worn. To be completely honest, I don’t know if I would have picked out these items for myself from the photos alone, but now that I have tried them on, I am so impressed with the quality of the material, the fit and the flattering colours. They are also all very reasonably priced. So my spring tennis wardrobe is now sorted – the only trouble is, I’m now going to have to treat myself to some new tennis shoes to match all these beautiful spring tennis outfits! 😉

If you like this video, please do head over to my YouTube account and subscribe to my channel, so you get notifications of all my upcoming tennis videos.

Adult Tennis Camps | Costa del Tennis

I live a fairly simple, quiet life in a small town in Italy, but thanks to social media I am beginning to develop a network of tennis-playing friends from all over the world. I am so pleased to receive comments, feedback, words of encouragement, and constructive criticism on my blog, YouTube and Instagram tennis photos and videos, and I am touched when someone takes the time to reach out to me via email. Recently, the Tennis Director at Costa del Tennis, Rhonda, sent me a lovely message to say ‘hola’ and chat about our shared interest in contributing to the tennis community. This message reminded me how much I would like to go to another adult tennis camp, but unfortunately this is unlikely to happen any time soon as I already have plans to attend the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters, the Queen’s Aegon Championships, a 3 day tennis camp/tournament in Pescara, the Motor GP in Assen, and if you add to that my trip home for Easter, a one-week holiday in the Algarve and at least 5 work trips (all before early July) it doesn’t leave much time! Luckily Costa del Tennis adult tennis camps run all the way into the autumn/early winter, so I will hopefully manage to organise one of their holidays before the end of the year.

Even though I can’t give you a personal review of their adult tennis camps (yet!), I still wanted to write a post about Costa del Tennis on my blog, as I heard from Rhonda that they have an exciting holiday coming up that involves the Barcelona Open, and I wanted to share the details with you (through her own words). More adult tennis camp reviews can be found here.

Q1) Who is Costa del Tennis?

Costa del Tennis is a travel company specialized in offering warm & friendly tennis destinations year-round.  We connect players from around the world because tennis is an international sport and bringing all the different cultures together keeps it interesting and allows people to connect paths well beyond the tennis court.

Costa del Tennis

Costa del Tennis is co-owned by Rhonda Costa, Tennis Director and Jana Rebelo, General Manager.

Also we work with a handful of outstanding tennis pros in Barcelona who happen to be great humans,serious players and engaging teachers. We work with the same values and methods of teaching so everyone is on the same page. I appreciate them very much and so do our guests.

Q2) What can recreational players expect to achieve from a week long camp/holiday?

Costa del Tennis

Great Question!  Truthfully, although we’re a holiday company people know us for tennis and not so much the cocktails that happen afterwards.  We socialize with players but most visitors don’t make the party the center of the week.

The only part of my life that I’m Type A is on the tennis court. So I work players to a point that I know I can get their best even if they think they can’t.  I’d like players to make consistency a primary focus – instead of hitting the ball 100 miles per hour.

It’s also important for players to leave understanding back at home how to coach their way out of tough situations on court. When they truly understand their mistakes because of our work on court, they’re able to self coach much more on their own.

Ultimately, players seem to appreciate the daily matchplay. We focus on getting them to swing freely through their nerves during points so they can play the way they train.

Besides the tennis they can expect a great destination with players from around the world, well located accommodations in order to experience the local culture and small groups on court.

Q3) Can you tell us more about the Barcelona Open Tennis Holiday?

The Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell 2017 ATP 500 Masters tournament is a pretty fantastic week both socially and on court for our players.

We play tennis at a local club just outside of Barcelona and visit the tourney together.

Costa del Tennis provides the tickets to our players free for Tuesday’s day & evening sessions.

The “Real Club de tenis de Barcelona” is one of the most beautiful clubs I’ve ever visited and is located in the heart of Barcelona.  Not sure how but it manages to feel so relaxed and easy for such a high profile club.

The locals come out BigTime for hometown players and celebrity sightings! So it’s a very social event.

All the top Spanish players take part in the Barcelona Open which means you get up close and personal to Rafa & Feliciano Lopez.  The court seating is super intimate so it’s impossible to be in nosebleed seating.

International players also love to participate in this tournament and this year’s event brings many surprise players like; Dominic Theim, David Goffin, Richard Gasquet and Kyle Edmund from the UK.

One of my favorite things is connecting people!  So many times, I get on the phone personally to invite players because after knowing them well, I might see potential personalities branch off into future business or travel adventures.  Who knows, but the sky’s the limit on a tennis holiday 😉

If you are interesting in booking a spot on the Barcelona Open Tennis Holiday, or any of the other upcoming camps in Barcelona, Gran Canaria and Malaga, then just drop a line to play@costa-del-tennis.com.



Lucky in (40ish) Love: Tennis Fashion Review

My first tennis skirt was from a brand called Lucky in Love that I discovered on Instagram. From the moment I put on that tennis skirt my passion for tennis fashion was born. I’ve spoken about this brand in other posts, and I even wrote an article for Tennis Identity on them, as I honestly think they are unique in the styles they offer. Since last summer I have now acquired a small wardrobe of Lucky in Love pieces and outfits, so last week I decided to do a video on my YouTube channel to showcase them. In case you missed it, you can find the video below. I plan to do more videos like this in the future, including footage of me wearing my tennis outfits while playing on the tennis court, so make sure you subscribe to my channel if you love tennis fashion as much as me!