When we roll the calendar to September it is still instinctive to think of “back to school.” Even now, when classes seem to resume earlier than ever and after a couple of years of mixing remote learning into the school year, many of us who grew up elsewhere have a children’s song embedded in memory that goes, “September comes, and the air is cool. We are old enough – and big enough – to start to school.” Some confess that long into adulthood, it is September rather than January that seems to mark the beginning of a new year.

Morbi vitae purus dictum, ultrices tellus in, gravida lectus.

It’s a time when we are reminded of the school that is located right here among The Shops at Sea Pines Center. Smith Stearns Tennis Academy marks a decade of developing young tennis talent, and it looks as if the momentum is continuing to accelerate. Smith Stearns is a kind of perfect example of the blend of heritage and happening that makes life in Sea Pines so fresh and so meaningful at the same time. The best of the moment is linked to the finest of traditions here, and Smith Stearns is a prime example.

A Legacy of Distinction

Founded by Stan Smith, who ranked No. 1 in the world during his professional career, and Billy Stearns, one of the world’s top coaches, Smith Stearns is dedicated to fully developing the potential of promising junior players. A winner of both the U.S. Open and Wimbledon, as well as four Grand Prix championships, Stan himself was once USTA director of coaching, where he cultivated a point of view about how the skills of the sport are learned and engrained.

Fame is notoriously fleeting, even for champions, and so to new generations of tennis hopefuls, Stan Smith might be better known for the Stan Smith model of tennis shoes by Adidas. Reflecting Stan’s sense of the classic, the shoes that bear his name do not display the three stripes usually found on Adidas, but rather a subtle three rows of perforations, maintaining the white-on-white style of dress that prevailed when Stan was rising in the sport.

With the legacy of skills and focus that Stan and Billy pass along at Smith Stearns Tennis Academy, fame was just a beginning.

At Home in the Neighborhood

Locating Smith Stearns in The Shops at Sea Pines Center and then expanding it substantially, the founders and the faculty are carrying on a momentum for tennis that is very much a part of Sea Pines – past, present, and future.

The “Original 9” events of the first professional women’s tennis circuit, the Virginia Slims Tour, made Sea Pines the location for one of those pioneering tournaments. Many of us can remember the excitement, as the greatest in the world gathered here at center court.

Just three minutes down the lane from The Shops at Sea Pines Center, we find the 20 courts of the Sea Pines Racquet Club. Because Hilton Head Island is just as attractive to tennis professionals as it is to our other friends, there is no counting the number of tennis legends who have booked a court there for their workout, to prepare for the spotlight of center court, or just for a friendly match.

Because tennis is such a powerful and ongoing piece of the story of Sea Pines, we are especially grateful to count Smith Stearns as our near neighbor, and to celebrate the start of their second decade of service.