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  • Writer's picturePalmetto Dunes

Celebrating 45 Years of Award-Winning Tennis

National Tennis Month is celebrated in May and it just so happens to also be the Palmetto Dunes Tennis Center's 45 year anniversary! Did you know that Hilton Head Island was originally hailed the "Tennis Capital of the World"? It had the most tennis courts per square mile than anywhere on the planet with over 300+ tennis courts in its heyday.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Sea Pines, Port Royal Plantation and our very own Palmetto Dunes Resort began building large tennis clubs with stadiums and seating capacity for tournament play. Sea Pines later hosted the "Family Circle Magazine Cup" tournament for nearly 30 years.

Palmetto Dunes hired tennis legend Rod Laver as it's Touring Professional. Rod Laver was considered by many as the best tennis player in history because he won the Grand Slam (all four major tournaments in one calendar year) on two occasions in the 1960s. And so, the Rod Laver Tennis Center was born in 1976. Roy Emerson, joined Rod Laver at the tennis center in 1977 changing the name to the Laver Emerson Tennis Center. Emerson – or “Emmo” to friends and fans – is the only male player to have completed a career grand slam in both singles and doubles. His 28 major titles are the all-time record for any male player. Laver and Emerson were considered great adversaries. Laver once said, "My old friend and rival has plagued me every step of the way because he never considers losing."

John Kerr, the Palmetto Dunes Director of Tennis since 1996 (starting as Tennis Head Pro in 1990), recalls "Rod Laver was very involved at the Tennis Center hosting camps and doing the Monday Night Exhibitions."

It eventually changed back to the Rod Laver Tennis Center in 1978 and in 1991 became the Palmetto Dunes Tennis Center, with "and Pickleball" being added in 2018 as pickleball courts and enthusiasm for the game really picked up.

Today, the Palmetto Dunes Tennis & Pickleball Center draws tennis and pickleball lovers from all over the world offering 19 clay tennis courts, 24 pickleball courts and full range of clinics and activities from the island's most loved pros.


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