“Three all,” booms the man’s voice, still as loud and clear as it was years ago when he presided over the biggest tennis matches of the day.

Norm Chryst is not chairing this contest, however; he is serving in the match tiebreaker.

Wearing his hat backwards, a black polo and Rogers Cup shorts, Chryst tosses the ball, rocks back and leaps forward to strike a flat first serve.

tennisscene16Tennis, like golf, is a year-round activity on Hilton Head Island and in Bluffton. One of the top 50 tennis destinations in the United States, the Lowcountry has the facilities and the competition to satisfy the most discriminating player. The area’s 20-plus tennis clubs offer more than 300 courts. Clay, grass and a variety of hard surfaces are available. Some residential developments have their own courts, which may be used by guests staying in those developments. Players may access facilities on private plantations if they make arrangements to play. Ask for details when reserving your court time.

tennisscene13Do you miss the days when tennis was more than just a baseline game for grunting power hitters? Long for the geometry and strategy that makes watching a match so exciting? Do you miss seeing top players in action on Hilton Head Island?

You’re in luck, because pro tennis rolls back onto the island from Friday, Sept. 11, to Sunday, Sept. 14. Bonus: No tickets required; you can watch all the matches free.

Players from around the world travel to our island home to compete in one of their favorite events on the ITF Wheelchair Tennis Tour.  

Simply and affectionately called “Hilton Head” by the players, the PTR Wheelchair Tennis Championships are held at Chaplin Park Tennis Center and HHI Motorcoach Resort on Arrow Road.


As home to several highly-touted junior tennis academies, the Hilton Head Island region is quickly becoming a launching pad for promising young athletes looking to make a name for themselves in the professional ranks.

Perhaps lost in that shadow, however, are the highly successful quartet of high school tennis programs in Southern Beaufort County, each of which has found success at the highest level of competitive team tennis.

sandra-ArmstrongSomeone forgot to tell Sandra Armstrong that when you’re 77, you’re supposed to be sitting in rocking chairs and waiting for “Early Bird” specials.

You’re to stay completely away from tennis courts. You definitely shouldn’t be on them during the middle of the day and play against people 20 years younger than you.

But even if someone had told Armstrong all of this, it’s unlikely she would have listened. She probably would have kept doing what she does today: Play tennis as much as possible.

tennisscene12Hilton Head Island boasts state-of-the-art tennis facilities, intriguing players

Long celebrated for its pristine beaches, and world-class golf resorts and courses, Hilton Head Island is also a premier destination for both amateur and professional tennis enthusiasts.

The island boasts more than 350 state-of-the-art tennis courts and is home to the prestigious Van der Meer Tennis Center, which serves as the international headquarters of the U.S. Professional Tennis Registry.

Tennis facilities and programs on Hilton Head Island have received high praise from various industry publications, such as Tennis magazine and Tennis Resorts Online. Less well known, however, are the stories of the intriguing players who call the Lowcountry – and its world-class tennis courts – home. These women and men hail from across the United States and around the world, but have made their mark on Hilton Head Island's thriving tennis community.

Pat Van Der Meer grateful her husband Dennis is still alive following a massive stroke three years ago

The name Van Der Meer in the tennis world is as familiar as Billie Jean King’s. But the life story of Dennis and Pat Van Der Meer is much more than one of global recognition and respect; it’s really a love story on many levels.


Tennis brought them together for the first time in 1980 on Hilton Head Island, and they have been together ever since. They have been husband and wife, best friends, business partners, world travelers, coaches, authors and innovators.



He was one of the greatest tacticians that the game of tennis has ever seen. His topspin forehand was the ultimate weapon, but his constant commitment to evolve was what made Ivan Lendl an all-time legend.

The winner of eight Grand Slam titles was forever coaching himself in the middle of the match. Now 54 and 20 years retired from playing professionally on tour, Lendl is diving into coaching the next generation of tennis stars through the Ivan Lendl International Junior Tennis Academy in Bluffton and Hilton Head Island.


It’s Tuesday morning, two days after the World Cup final between Germany and Argentina, and Stan Smith is en route from Brazil back to Hilton Head Island.

He was in Rio de Janeiro for the tournament, working with Stan Smith Events client American Express to entertain corporate guests throughout the monthlong celebration of the beautiful game.

Smith can hold court on just about any subject, seamlessly meandering from the World Cup final to the history of his adopted home's love affair with tennis before shifting gears to his charitable work.

Oh, and The Shoe.


Coaches like to say they're reloading rather than rebuilding.

It's not quite right to say the Hilton Head Island tennis scene was in need of a revival — it has been vibrant for decades — but a revitalization of sorts was in order, so the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce invested in a study to find out just how much tennis means to the area's identity as a tourist destination.

The answer was predictable.

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