How it all started
Since the mid 1950s when Charles Fraser began developing Sea Pines Plantation, tennis has been a part of the island scene. In the early years, it was simply a recreational amenity like golf, fishing, biking and kayaking.
And then in 1971, Stan Smith—the No. 1 ranked player in the world—joined The Sea Pines Resort as its touring pro, lending enormous credibility to the fledgling racquet club. Two years later, Sea Pines hosted the inaugural Family Circle Cup. The women’s tennis event drew the game’s top seeds to its clay courts—and a national television audience.
The next decade would bring even more tennis stars to the island. Following Sea Pines’ lead, two-time Grand Slam champion Rod Laver started a tennis center in Palmetto Dunes. In 1974, Shipyard Racquet Club opened with Billie Jean King as its touring pro. Her onetime trainer and business partner, legendary coach Dennis Van der Meer, would go on to buy the club nearly two decades later.
Today, you’ll find top-tiered tennis programs in virtually every Hilton Head oceanfront resort. In all, the 12-mile long island offers more than 350 tennis courts—possibly the most per square mile anywhere in the world!
Hilton Head Island also serves as headquarters for two of the game’s most prestigious organizations—the Tennis Industry Association and the Professional Tennis Registry.