A Woodstock Tennis Pilgrimage

We heard from another tennis player at Hilton Head of this great tennis retreat in the Catskills. The food, lodging, locale, and tennis, we heard, were a really good deal. Last week we drove thirteen hours from NC to NY following a beautiful route on I-81 through Virginia and Pennsylvania, then I-84 and I-87 into NY. This is as pretty a drive as we’ve done anytime, routed through farmlands and wooded areas of really pretty states.

Saugerties Village NY is pretty

Saugerties, New York derives its name from Holland Dutch, Zager’s Killetje. Zager (meaning sawyer or sawmill), and Kill meaning creek or stream, with the suffix “t j e” to indicate small or little. The sawmill was on the Esopus Creek. Saugerties Village is ten miles from the village of Woodstock but over fifty miles from Yazgur’s farm where the Woodstock music festival was held.

Seamon Park an uncommonly nice picnic place

We drove around the village of Saugerties and to the Waterfront Park, a nice area with playground and beach with swimming area. We arrived midday Sunday to Saugerties and found Seamon Park, a pretty little stream-side picnic place. We ate the leftover (and large and wonderful) half of pizza from last night’s dinner at Booty’s Place in West Hazleton, PA.

The park has several interesting features. The first we noticed are the paint colors on the playground equipment — vivid primary colors on all the iron and wood. Some group spends a lot of time making this playground fun-looking. Second, the campfire ring with a stone monument at its center. Third, the not-so-old ruins from a mill’s sluice box and wheel house just below the parking lot and above the stream. Saugerties takes really good care of their park and we appreciated it.

A little mystical, eh?

The campfire ring was built in 1929 by the Campfire Girls and has been lovingly maintained. The stone ring includes three stone fireplaces, each with an engraved center stone. The effect is suggestive of years of good times for many area girls. Campfire Girls originated in Maine just eighteen years earlier and was probably in its heyday during the building of this stone campfire ring and fire places.

Out of the way place outside Saugerties

We arrived several hours too early for check-in at Total Tennis at the Katsbaan Lodge a few miles from Saugerties Village. Since we were so close (nine miles) to Woodstock we drove through beautiful countryside and found the village teeming with pilgrims, so many baby-boomers with silver ponytails. The week before was the 42nd anniversary of Woodstock Festival, looked like it attracted extra pilgrims.

It still was too early for the 5:30 p.m. check-in to the Katsbaan Lodge so we spent an hour sipping coffee and enjoying free wifi to read emails and do a little work. Finally we had allowed enough time for check-out by the prior period’s tennis campers. The 4 p.m. check-out policy is really generous, allowing tennis through the afternoon lessons and time for a hot tub soak and shower before packing and departing.

An old Catskills lodge converted to great purpose since 1978

The Katsbaan Lodge consists of six buildings, a swimming pool, eighteen outdoor tennis courts, and an indoor tennis building. Our room was in the “new” building and was snug but perfectly adequate. We didn’t drive thirteen hours to sit in our room. If we wanted to bag the tennis we could hang out in the main lodge’s comfortable lobby or living room. We attended Total Tennis for three days of tennis and Total Tennis is the perfect place for it.

Our lodge at Total Tennis

We moved into our cozy little room, unpacked, and cleaned up. The room is a little more than ten feet by ten feet. We had a comfortable double bed with bedside lamps and powerful ceiling lights over the head of the bed. The bathroom was very compact with a nice corner shower with a narrow vanity to one side and on the other a commode. Like our Airstream’s, the bathroom is serviceable and appropriate to the amount of time we spend.

We walked a few hundred feet to the main lodge for the seven o’clock dinner bell. A lot of folks had been visiting in the living room and swept into the dining room as we walked in. The lodge serves food cafeteria style and the food is extraordinarily good. We enjoyed roasted beets, roasted carrots, chard, tofu, quinoa, squash, onions, tomatoes, corn, and a wide variety of tasty meats. The abundant fresh organic vegetables are from the resort’s nearby farm. And the variety, presentation, and flavor of food impressed us.

The vast majority of campers seemed to be from “The City”. We shouldn’t have been surprised but we thought we’d find more people from out of NY. One couple from Virginia, one FL woman (visiting her NY son), one Aussie couple living in Japan, a couple of Connecticut couples, the remainder principally from The City.

We sat with Kenny and Wendy, Stephanie, and Melissa. Kenny and Wendy are from Long Island, Stephanie and Melissa from Manhattan. Everyone at our table at every meal was a lot of fun — maybe they came here to have fun, relax, and play a lot of tennis? We think so. Dinner was hamburgers, bbq, chicken filets, sauerkraut, salad bar, blond brownies, beer and wine. After dinner we sat around talking awhile then retired to our room for the night.

Meal times were excellent for us. We became acquainted with many more people from FL, VA, NY, CT, and Australia, enjoyed talking tennis, travel, and family stuff. The dining room atmosphere is relaxed and comfortable, encouraging enjoying meals and making new friends.

Monday morning we joined the whole crew for breakfast of granola at 7:30 then met at the bleachers at 8:30 for assignment to our instruction groups. The program director asked us to pay close attention to his descriptions of the USTA skill levels ( NTRP 2.0 through 4.0) and join the appropriate group for our abilities. Debbie’s was pretty easy, advanced beginner. Jim took a lot longer to get sorted into the right group.

Debbie and two to three other players worked all six sessions with a young pro from Colombia. They liked their instructor and the consistency of working with one pro. Jim, on the other hand, worked with Lydia for one session, Sajiv and Tony for a session, Francisco for two sessions, then Sajiv and Tony for two sessions. Jim may have received the best diversity because each pro sees and offers something different.

We survived!

We’ve had a few opportunities to hit since we returned from Total Tennis. The lessons are still perking, we’re trying to incorporate what we learned into our regular hitting and play. This will take awhile but we have time. One of Jim’s high school classmates used to say, “what better to do with your time?”. Amen.

Jim and Debbie

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4 responses to “A Woodstock Tennis Pilgrimage

  1. We are a celebrity! We made your blog!
    It was a pleasure meeting/shooting the breeze/hitting balls with youse guys.
    Good luck in all your future adventures – it’s refreshing to see people enjoying life as you two do.
    I hope our paths will cross again someday!
    All the best!
    Kenny & Wendy

    • K&W,
      You didn’t just make our blog, you made our week at Total Tennis! As great as the tennis was the best part of TT for us was getting to know you two, Dr Cheng, Stuart & Wendi, Kitty & Rob (and young Jack), Trish, Keith, Erin & Sabrina,, other players and all the great staff too. We played at Van der Meer on Hilton Head and at Evert Tennis Academy at Boca Raton this year. Both were day-camps with very little interaction between players outside the tennis. Really, people make Total Tennis such a great place to play tennis. Oh, and then there’s the food we loved so much, great choices for most kinds of diets. And free IPAs?

      Never mind the free beer and wine — getting to meet and know you two is a treat for us and we want to see you at TT again. And next time Jim wants to play in your group from the start, okay? Take care,

      Jim & Deb

  2. Hello from #9,

    Sounds like you are having a great time in a beautiful place.

    I have been meaning to ask you, how do you like your MAC?

    Cal ( #9 )

    • Cal
      Yep, Catskills is a beautiful area and the people are fantastic. We’re southerners no matter where we go and we can’t help carrying some preconceived notions about folks from some other areas. We were delighted with NY and all the people we met from NYC last week. We’re developing a theory, though, about people we encounter RVing or playing tennis. Neither group is representative of the people in their geographical region. RVers, tennis players, and almost certainly some other groups often represent very active and interesting people. And too we usually find these folks healthier, happier, and more ageless than some of the folks we went to high school with, if you know what I mean.

      The MAC is great. I still also use a windows machine, just upgraded to an HP Pavilion 14″ with Windows 7 — it is more Mac-like than our 2007 Dell Latitude (with Vista). The MAC has influenced all laptop makers positively, we think. Some nice features adopted by HP include one-touch screen brightness controls, one-touch volume controls, and finger gesture mouse pad (no, not like the NY 1-finger gesture).

      But the MAC just does everything really great. Only one thing I miss is home and end keys. Can’t help it — a liability from switching from windows OS, eh? And we wish Intuit and Apple had collaborated better on developing a MAC version of Quicken. We tried the MAC version this past winter, it just sucked eggs. Deb is a Quicken super-user, been on it for years and applies it to our planning, budgeting, analysis, and bookkeeping. The MAC version is very very “lite” and they graciously accepted the return with full refund after we tried it and returned to the Windows version.


      Three best things about MAC? Instantly ready to operate upon opening lid (and just as quick to shut down); long battery life, lasts all day; and lower risk of mal-ware and other attacks.

      We love our MAC.

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