Sedona and the Verde Valley have some of the best year-round weather and the most beautiful settings for tennis anywhere in the United States. Most winter days warm into the 50s, and although the peak of some summer days is a bit hot for most tennis players, especially in the Verde Valley, which tends to be 3-5 degrees warmer than Sedona, the mornings and evenings are quite comfortable. Sedona's red rock formations and unique culture make it the second most popular destination in Arizona, behind only the Grand Canyon. The Verde Valley offers a dramatically different landscape, centered around the Verde River's lush greenery and surrounded by the pine-studded peaks of Mingus and its fellow mountains.
Of the area towns, Sedona has the most tennis players per capita, most of them 50 and older. You'll find Sedona's tennis courts well populated with men and women in the 3.0 to 4.0 NTRP range along with a few players at the 4.5 and 5.0 levels. Cottonwood also has a fairly lively but much smaller tennis community, with a similar range of player ages and levels. A smaller percentage of the tennis players are women in Cottonwood than in Sedona. The few players in Camp Verde, Cornville, Rimrock, and Lake Montezuma tend to play in either Cottonwood or Sedona, although the one court in Camp Verde does see a match or two per week. Only Sedona and Cottonwood have high-school tennis teams. The high-school players tend to play almost entirely on their school courts rather than on the city courts the adults generally use.
Perhaps because the mild climate and beautiful landscape just make people happier on average, the tennis community in Sedona and the Verde Valley is considerably friendlier than most. New players tend to be welcomed quickly, and they're often surprised at how easily they can find compatible matches. Both Cottonwood and Sedona have groups that play at regular times each week and welcome new players either as drop-ins or by getting in touch with the designated contact person in advance.
Tennis players from other regions may notice the ball flying farther in the Verde Valley and especially Sedona. Heat and elevation thin the air while making the balls bouncier. Camp Verde has the lowest elevation in the Verde Valley at 3147 feet; Sedona's official elevation is 4327 feet. Tennis balls fly faster and therefore farther through thinner air because they encounter less drag (air resistance). The air pressure inside a tennis ball increases with heat and makes it bouncier as the external air pressure decreases. The Verde Valley and Sedona aren't quite high enough to require high-altitude tennis balls; therefore, the needed adjustment, generally toward more topspin, is up to the player.
The following pages will take you on a brief tour of the area's public tennis courts, show you some of the natural beauty here, and introduce you to one of the local teaching pros, me.