Croatia Online – Wimbledon And Tennis In Croatia
As Andrew Murray treads his, so far, very convincing path into the fourth round of the Wimbledon Championship, it’s sad to see Croatia’s Marin Čilić go out to Germany’s Tommy Haas in the third round, after a very close run contest that went to five sets. Croatia, however, still has Ivo Karlović to support who will play Spain’s Verdasco in the fourth round. If he wins that it seems likely that he will meet favourite Roger Federer in the quarter finals. And amazingly, the weather has been so consistently good that Wimbledon has survived a whole week without having to test its the new roof!
Enthralling though Wimbledon invariably is, perhaps there will never again be the huge excitement that captivated everyone who watched the 2001 Championship when Croatia’s Goran Ivanišević went down in history for being the first (and so far last) player ever to win a Grand Slam title on a wild card entry. His home club, Firule in Split, were in the process of printing a book to celebrate their fiftieth birthday. They took it off the printing presses and watched in anticipation, and some disbelief, as their hero powered his way right though the tournament to win that memorable final and the Championship.
Talk to any Croatian and they will remember Goran’s homecoming (pictured – copyright Fjodor Klerić) as if it was yesterday – his arrival in Bernie Ecclestone’s private jet, Formula 1, a huge flotilla of boats in Kaštela and Split Bays, 150,000 fans waiting on Split’s waterfront Riva, parachutists, fireworks, parties and a striptease from the champion himself. Quiz night enthusiasts may also be interested to know that, according to the Daily Express, Goran Ivanišević is the only Wimbledon champion whose name is a strict alternation of vowels and consonants.
When asked just how Croatia managed to produce so many world class tennis players from such a small population and lack of resources, the Croatian Tennis Federation’s Executive Director, Marina Mihelić came up with a simple answer – “we’re a talented nation in sports with balls.” Handball, football, basketball, water polo and, of course tennis, are just a few of the sports where Croatia punches well above its weight. According to the Split Tourist Board, commenting on the launch of a Sports Hall of Fame in early 2008, Split has the highest number of internationally successful sportsmen and women per capita in the world.
For those that want to incorporate tennis into their Croatian holiday, either as spectators or participators, there are plenty of good facilities, some of which are noted below:
The Croatia Open takes place in Umag each year on clay courts. Dates for 2009 are 27th July to 2nd Auguast. The players normally stay in the four star Sol Garden Istra but there’s plenty of other accommodation for spectators to choose from.
The PB Zagreb Indoors takes place in Januarry/February each year in the Dom Sportova, Zagreb.
JST Travel organise tennis camps in Umag and Poreč and offer a wide variety of other activities as well. The Umag holidays use the Umag tournament courts.
Sunshine World Croatia also offer camps in Umag with options ranging from individual lessons, through fun packages for kids and families, to the “Pro Package Luxury”.
Hotels With Tennis Facilities
Bluesun Hotels Elaphusa take advantage of the Zlatni Rat tennis centre on Bol, Brač, to offer a professional tennis school for adults and, for children, the Tennis Academy Mickey. The Zlatni Rat centre used to host a ladies international (WTA) championship and now stages the Bluesun Bol Ladies open in April each year. The centre has 25 clay courts including a show court accommodating 2000 spectators.
Ilirija Hotels occupy a vast area in Biograd, near Zadar, which includes three hotels, an open air swimming pool and beach bar, and a tennis complex with 14 floodlit clay courts, 6 hard courts, clubhouse, café and a resident professional.
Istraturist have four 4 star hotels in Umag, as well as a three and a two star. From these you can take advantage of the best tennis facilities in Croatia, available from the same courts that stage the annual Croatia Open and several other tournaments.
Link to Croatia Online - Boat Show Special for a picture of Goran Ivanišević at the Croatia Boat Show in Split
Link to Croatia Cruising Companion - Rowing News for the latest Croatian achievements in nautical sports
And finally…, we note that the Daily Mirror Survey last week voted Goran Ivanišević the tenth sexiest male player of all time. Croatian readers should try and understand the Mirror’s target audience and editorial policy when analysing the significance of this and how three UK tennis players – Murray, Henman and Rudsedski – made it higher on the list. Dalmatians don’t have the prerogative on sporting nationalism. Croatia Online’s editor would also like to know how Bjorn Borg managed to get a place and Ilie Nastase didn’t!