JUST three points stand between me and a famous victory over tennis star Mark Petchey.
In front of a packed stand, I trade shots with the former British No1.
Ooh . . . my first “winner” slides just wide. Ahh . . . a second forehand hits the net. Urghh . . . I fluff a volley and the final two shots and lose five points to nil.
In fairness, I took it easy on the coach who helped Sir Andy Murray on the path to greatness.
That’s what I told him, anyway.
I meet “Petch” at Neilson’s new Alana Beachclub resort in Starigrad, near Zadar, Croatia, where he is promoting the activity holiday specialist’s tennis programme.
His love for the game oozes through every pore and he is on fine form both on and off court.
Petch, 46, is Neilson’s tennis ambassador, heading up a coaching programme at nine beachclubs across Greece, Croatia and Sardinia.
He visits one resort each season, joins the group coaching sessions, plays 30 challengers in a quick-fire charity event and passes on tips to players at every level.
And that’s the great thing about Neilson: it caters for all, from beginners to advanced.
Tennis nuts are certainly in heaven here.
With just a bit of planning you can have three hours of organised sessions a day — more if you buddy up with other guests for free play on the six AstroTurf courts.
The group lessons are free, grouped according to ability, and great fun.
But if tennis doesn’t float your boat then maybe the beach sports will, with unlimited windsurfing, sailing, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding — aka SUPs — and the chance to try water-skiing and wakeboarding.
Two ski tows are included in the price.
Neilson ploughed £500,000 into its water sport kit at Alana Beachclub and three gleaming new speedboats are evidence of this.
At one point I counted 35 dinghies in use, while there were 15 windsurfing boards and a dozen kayaks and SUPs splashing about in the super-clear Adriatic waters.
Oh, and there’s an added bonus — people are so busy doing activities there is never a rush for sunbeds at the pool.
Not into tennis or water sports?
Try one of the eight fitness classes that run from 7am to 6.45pm, play beach volleyball, get out on a mountain bike, join an organised hike, relax in the spa (free, but treatments are extra) or have a go on the climbing wall.
All equipment use is included but you can buy packages to guarantee more time in your chosen activity.
One-to-one tennis coaching, for instance, is 298 kuna (£31), six 15-minute water ski tows are £150 and rock climbing trips to the nearby Paklenica National Park — set within the Dinarides mountain range and offering a stunning backdrop to Alana Beachclub — are £40 for two hours or £60 for four hours.
Full details of all packages are on Neilson’s website.
We are on the Dalmatian coast and it certainly feels like there are 101 things to do, for all ages.
Kids’ activity clubs are run by 20 nannies (including a couple of man-nies) so the little ones can try much of what’s on offer.
For the very young ones there is an excellent crèche and nursery, which costs extra.
Neilson has 72 British staff running the activity programme for 430 guests.
There are 12 types of accommodation available, from one-bedroom and inter-connecting rooms to cabins and apartments that sleep five. All have air-con.
Breakfast and lunch is inclusive, plus dinner four nights of the week.
You can pay to eat in on the other nights or pop into Starigrad for a choice of restaurants.
The historic city of Zadar, steeped in Roman and Venetian history, is a 40-minute taxi ride away and well worth the trip.
There are plenty of excursions for those wanting a break from the on-site activities and a £70 trip to the stunning Plitvice Lakes — 16 stretches of water connected by 92 waterfalls — is a real highlight.
And on the subject of natural phenomena, brace yourself for an occasional blast of Croatia’s mighty bora winds which come ripping through the mountain gorges.
They play havoc with the tennis and certainly gee up the sailors.
But don’t worry too much — the more extreme winds come in winter and spring.
Neilson’s slogan is “relax as hard as you like” and it was an absolute hoot doing just that.
It was a bit like one almighty day off, doing all your favourite sports from morning till night.
Which takes us back to the courts where, come Saturday, the coaching team runs an end-of-week doubles tournament — and, somehow, I manage to win.
Game, Petch and match, you might say . . .
STAYING THERE: Neilson’s Alana Beachclub holidays include flights from Stansted, Manchester or East Midlands, transfers, full breakfast and lunch, four evening meals, use of all equipment, group coaching lessons and activity clubs for the over-twos.
Seven nights are from £695 in low season to £1,292 in high season.
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