In four months, the region of Sisi Lasithi, and thanks to private initiative, has transformed into one of the most beautiful tennis destinations in Europe with 26 courts. The investment exceeds 3.5 million euros and aims, through the organization of international tournaments, to expand the tourist season.
The village of Sisi in Lasithi is perhaps unknown even to the majority of the Greek population. And yet, in this village, and more precisely in the vicinity of the hotel “Kalimera Crete”, the largest tennis complex in the country was completed a few weeks ago.
On an area of 25 acres, overlooking the Cretan Sea, twenty clay courts and six artificial turf courts have been built. The area also has two padel courts, while three more are expected to be built in the next period. Businessmen preferred to invest in high-level sports tourism rather than building rooms for tourism with… bracelets.
The stadiums started being built on November 1, 2022 and were ready on April Fool’s Day 2023. It might sound like… April Fool’s Day, but it’s not. Crews worked over 12 hours a day and a sustainability-conscious hill was transformed into an impressive multi-level sports complex. The athlete will be able to compete in the environment of the Cretan nature, he will smell his herbs and the air will “caress” him with the salinity of the Minoan sea.
“Building at different levels drove up the costs, but that’s the beauty of it. We kept the terrain relief. I wanted tennis to be included in the hotel. As if it were its natural continuation. “Kalimera Crete” has the potential to be transformed into a sports tourism center because, in addition to tennis and paddle tennis courts, it has beach volleyball, football, swimming pools and gymnasiums. We are interested in thematic tourism with the aim of having high occupancy in the low season,” Anna Mantonanaki told kathimerini.gr and Spyridoula Spanea.
Fifty thousand cubic meters of mountain were transformed into material, which was used in the stratifications under the courts. Nisyros “brought” 800 cubic meters of pumice stone in order to preserve humidity. The facility has its own borehole as the clay courts require daily watering. To complete the clay surfaces, it was necessary to bring in 800 tons of red earth from Italy, a country with a tradition of clay courts. The lighting for the pitches was built to specifications for TV shots. Even after heavy rains, the tennis player will be able to play because there is a drainage system and in less than an hour the water is directed out of the playing field.
The facility was built according to the plans of a leading travel agency in Europe, specializing in the design of tennis and fitness packages and, of course, the organization of tournaments. Already the investment has started to bear fruit as in one month more than 750 people have visited the hotel in order to take part in tennis events and, in fact, at a time when, for Crete, the season n is not open yet. Tournaments are already planned for the fall months and in 2024 the first event will start on March 23, which will mean an extended season for the hotel as well as creating new jobs.
We also met Patrick Keunen on the courts. The German, a former professional tennis player, had reached 43rd place in the world rankings. “It’s a nice facility and a great place to play tennis. Your country has smiling and good-humored people. I’m happy every time I’m here,” he told kathimerini.gr.
The construction of the 26 locations seems to be only the beginning of the adventure. In the plans, it is planned to build ten more. One of the owners’ dreams is to turn the area into a training ground for top athletes before the start of the clay court season, which if realized will advertise Crete and the Greece in general.
From May 22, the interest of tennis fans will be on the clay courts of Roland Garros, in Paris. The best tennis players in the world will compete for the prestigious trophies. Perhaps some of them in the near future will find themselves on the tennis courts of Sisi Lasithiou, as forward-thinking tourism entrepreneurs have realized that Greece, as a tourism product in the modern era, needs more than cultural heritage, the sea and… moussaka.