Tennis and the ocean are two of my biggest passions. Throw in a sunny day and I’m cooking. So it should come as no surprise that I found myself at the Nature Valley International tennis event on Sunday 24 June as part of the day job.
Before I became seriously unwell with my mast cell and histamine issues, I spent more than a decade writing for www.wimbledon.com during the Championships which was fantastic. The only snag was that Wimbledon qualifying clashed with Eastbourne so I could never make it down to the combined ATP men’s and WTA women’s tournament.
But that all changed in 2017 when I visited for the first time and became instantly hooked on the scenic location and the quality of tennis. As the event, which hosted 47,000 visitors last year, makes for a fantastic day out with family, friends or even if you’re flying solo I’ve compiled a list of 7 tips to help you make the most of your time at Nature Valley International.
WATCH THE STARS
You don’t necessarily need a show court ticket to spot famous faces. A ground pass – especially early on in the tournament – often does the job. I spotted Stan Wawrinka, Andy Murray and Kyle Edmund hitting on an outside court yesterday. “I can’t believe we’ve seen all these guys in the space of three minutes,” I heard one thrilled spectator excitedly whisper to her husband. All the tickets for Nature Valley International, which runs until 30 June, are sold out until Wednesday but do keep an eye on the LTA’s website where you can also book tickets for next year.
ENJOY THE SEA BREEZE
The good news is that the weather is set to be scorchio this week. The bad news is us Brits are unaccustomed to the heat [anything over 25 degrees Celsius is considered ‘boiling’]. However, the tournament is just three minutes from the sea so there’s a wonderfully refreshing breeze. Don’t forget to walk with sun cream, a hat, sunglasses and a bottle of water.
Okay. Admittedly you won’t be saving money if you’re buying tickets BUT you can shave off some of the cost of your spending with Visit Eastbourne, a free resort app which will unlock exclusive special offers throughout the week. Some of the deals include 10% off at Pomodoro e Mozzarella and Half Man Half Burger, and 2 for 1 entry to the Royal Hippodrome Theatre.
REVEL IN THE GARDEN PARTY ATMOSPHERE
The Nature Valley International event has a distinct traditional English Garden party vibe and is far from stuffy. There are plenty of food and drink options from clotted cream and strawberries to fish and chips and a vegetarian van serving falafels and salads. There’s also plenty of tennis clothing stalls featuring brands including Wilson, Babolat and Bjorn Borg.
LISTEN TO THE CALL OF SEAGULLS
I don’t know about you but the call of a seagull propels me to a happy place and takes me back to the UK-based beach breaks I shared as a child with my family. Take a moment to enjoy being at the tournament and notice the simple things that bring you pleasure – whether that be the feeling of the sun on your skin or the sound of the ball being struck. Try and leave any worries at the gate and focus on the present.
GO FOR AN EVENING STROLL
Once you’ve had your fill of tennis head to the seafront. Yes, the beach is pebbly but who cares? It’s just a three-minute walk on foot from Devonshire Park and will undoubtedly leave you feeling both relaxed and revitalised – sea air is charged with healthy negative ions that accelerate our ability to absorb oxygen by neutralising damaging free radicals.
TAKE A BREAK
You’re in Eastbourne. Why not tack on a couple of extra days and see what the area has to offer to? From Beachy Head to the South Downs National Park there’s plenty to see. For more information visit the Visit Eastbourne website here.
Have you been to Nature Valley International or are you thinking of going? What did you enjoy about it? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. Or, do you know someone who is attending this week? Please feel free to share this article with them.