Tennis playing expats living in the Netherlands will find ample opportunity. There are over 1,700 clubs in the country and more than 570,000 players registered with the Dutch national tennis association (KNLTB). More information for playing tennis in Holland follows…
A typical Dutch tennis club offers multiple lighted outdoor clay courts as well as a clubhouse with changing rooms and canteen or restaurant. Seasonal membership is available as is hourly court rental for non-members.
DUTCH TENNIS COURTS
Tennis courts in the Netherlands are predominantly red clay (‘gravel’ in Dutch) or synthetic clay (SmashCourt ). The latter type, which plays similarly to clay, has become a popular alternative for traditional clay courts because of its fast-drying, low-maintenance characteristics. In comparison, the number of hard and grass tennis courts is Holland is quite low.
Tennis centers that are open all year usually have lighted courts for night time tennis. There are relatively few indoor tennis courts as Dutch tennis players are often willing to play in light rain or near freezing temperatures.
The indoor courts that are offered are usually synthetic clay, indoor carpet or standard gymnasium-type flooring. Some tennis clubs close down entirely for the winter season.
TENNIS CLUB & ASSOCIATION MEMBERSHIPS
Dutch tennis clubs commonly offer seasonal rather than annual memberships; Spring/Summer (April-September) and Fall/Winter (October-March). Some clubs may offer a limited-play season membership at a lower cost that allows the member court time during less busy periods. All tennis clubs offer discounted child/youth memberships.
Getting a membership at a tennis club does not automatically provide membership in a tennis association that uses the club’s facilities. These are usually two separate entities and membership in the association requires a separate application. The additional association membership is usually quite small and is not a requirement to use the courts, only to participate in events the association organizes. There may also be more than one tennis association using the club’s facilities as its ‘home’ base.
DUTCH NATIONAL TENNIS ASSOCIATION
The KNLTB (De Koninklijke Nederlandse Lawn Tennis Bond) is the Dutch national tennis association, the second largest sports federation in the Netherlands after the football (soccer) federation. It enforces official ITF playing rules, sanctions local, regional and national competitions and tournaments, nurtures and trains top level talent, organizes a team of players to represent the Netherlands at international events such as the Davis Cup (mens), Federation Cup (womens) and the Olympics, promotes participation in the sport for players of all ages (especially children) and lobbies the government for financial support of tennis in the Netherlands.
KNLTB membership registration is handled by the tennis club where the applicant is a member. Once the registration form is completed and returned to the club’s membership director along with the KNLTB annual fee, it will be processed. It is not possible to apply directly to the KNLTB for membership. A valid KNLTB membership is required to participate in local and regional tennis tournaments.
LOCAL TOURNAMENTS & COMPETITIONS
A variety of tennis competitions are available from the club level up to the national level. These include:
Club Ladder: a player joins the club or association’s ladder starting at the bottom. He/she challenges a player within five rungs above them to a match. If the challenger wins, he/she moves up to the other player’s spot, pushing that player down one rung.
Inter-Club Competition: several tennis clubs in a region each organize a team of players that compete with each other over a 10-week season either in Spring (March-May) or Fall (September-November) with the team having the best record winning.
Club Tournaments: these are open only to members of the specific club. They usually offer mens (‘heren’) and ladies (‘dames’) singles (‘enkel’) and doubles (‘dubbel’) with multiple drawers for each based on skill level and/or age.
Open Tournaments: these are open to all KNLTB players even if they are not a member of the tennis club hosting the tournament. The tournament season runs from end of May to mid-September. The Toernooi website lists all tournaments in the Netherlands. The search function allows filtering by location, by district, by date and by event type: mens singles (HE), mens doubles (HD), ladies singles (DE), ladies doubles (DD) or mixed doubles (GD). Events showing an age after the event type indicates that only players that age or above can register for it.
A tournament usually allows a player to enter up to two events. This could be a singles and doubles, but it could also be two singles divisions or two doubles divisions. The entry fee is per event. Registration is handled directly through the Toernooi website and ends approximately one week before the tournament’s start date. Results of all tournaments played are recorded against the player’s KNLTB profile which is accessible to other KNLTB members.
NOTE: A player can only register for tournaments with ‘Open’ in the name. Tournaments with ‘Club’ in the name are only available to members of that club.
PROFESSIONAL TENNIS IN THE NETHERLANDS
Dutch players as a whole have had marginal success at the professional level during the open era, with one male player winning a Grand Slam singles title (Richard Krajicek – Wimbledon 1996) and one female player making a Grand Slam singles final (Betty Stove – Wimbledon 1977). Krajicek reached a career high men’s singles rank of No. 4 in 1999, while Stove peaked at No. 5 in the women’s singles rankings in 1977.
At the start of 2019, there was one Dutch male player ranked in the ATP top 100 (Robin Haase, age 31). In 2012 he achieved a career high singles ranking of No. 33; currently he is ranked No. 55 (Feb 2019).
On the women’s side, Kiki Bertens (age 27) has had strong results over the past two years, playing in the season-ending WTA Finals Championships for the first time in 2018. Her current singles rank of No. 8 (Feb 2019) is also her career high thus far.
Other notable Dutch professional tennis players
- Men (highest singles rank): Tom Okker (No. 3 – 1973), Sjeng Schalken (No. 11 – 2003), Jan Siemerink (No. 14 – 1998), Paul Haarhuis (No. 18 – 1995), Jacco Eltingh (No. 19 – 1995)
- Women (highest singles rank): Brenda Schultz-McCarthy (No. 9 – 1996), Miriam Oremans (No. 25 – 1993), Manon Bollegraf (No. 29 – 1990), Kristie Boogert (No. 29 – 1996)
The Netherlands hosts a small number of professional tennis tournaments each year:
- ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament: a men’s professional ATP 500 series indoor event held in February and played on carpet at Ahoy arena in Rotterdam. The tournament has been held every year since 1972 and the field always includes players ranked in the world top 10. Past winners have included Arthur Ashe, Jimmy Connors, Bjorn Borg, Boris Becker, Lleyton Hewitt, Roger Federer and Andy Murray.
- Rosmalen Grass Court Championships: is a women’s WTA and men’s ATP professional tournament played on outdoor grass courts in Den Bosch and held in June, shortly before the start of Wimbledon. Past champions have included Patrick Rafter, Lleyton Hewitt, David Ferrer and Richard Gasquet on the men’s side and Martina Hingis, Justine Henin, Kim Clijsters and Simona Halep.
- The Hague Open: a mens ATP Challenger event played in July on the outdoor courts of the ScheveningenMets tennis club. It attracts players ranked outside the top 50 worldwide.
DUTCH TENNIS TERMS
|love||nul||mens singles||heren enkelspel (HE)|
|fifteen||vijftien||mens doubles||heren dubbelspel (HD)|
|thirty||dertig||ladies singles||dames enkelspel (DE)|
|forty||vertig||ladies doubles||dames dubbelspel (DD)|
|game||spel||mixed doubles||gemengd dubbelspel (GD)|
|tennis association||tennisvereniging (TV)|