While other tennis clubs have lost members or closed, the Tennis Club of Avon Lake gained 40 new members in 2012.
As there are fewer places available for tennis enthusiasts, Bob Dunn, former president of the club, said the Avon Lake club is looking to add to its membership. The club had 123 members in 2011, a number the club has kept relatively steady over the years, he said, but the membership jumped to 163 last year.
“We got members through our 29 years through word of mouth,” he said. “Really, the club sold itself. Once a person started playing here, normally we would not lose people to another club once they played here the first year.”
Interest in tennis hit a high in the 1970s, Dunn said, mainly because of the John McEnroes and Christy Everetts. Lately, the general interest in tennis has dropped. Dick’s Sporting Goods at Crocker Park used to have its tennis gear on the first floor, he said, but because fewer people seem to be playing, the equipment is now on the second floor, where people have to look for it.
The club in Avon Lake, however, continues a steady and now growing membership because of what it offers to its members: a Har-Tru court, a chance to socialize and a lower cost than other clubs.
Har-Tru is easier on the body, he said, and people can play on it more frequently and longer without hurting their joints. Several members are in their 80s, and one is 88, he said, and they still play.
“It’s easier on the legs, ankles, feet and body because there’s a cushion to it,” he said. “It’s a slower game.”
The club holds socials throughout the summer for members. The club also has an eight-burner grill anyone can use while there.
“You can bring friends and other players to the court and cook out on our grill,” he said.
It’s pretty informal at the club, he said. Most require players to have four to a group, but at the Avon Lake club, players can just show up and then play with others waiting for a turn on one of the eight courts. The dress code is less formal as well, he said, so long as people just look tidy.
The club has been able to maintain lower prices in spite of increased maintenance costs by seeking new members, not raising rates, Dunn said. There are no fees for actual court use.
Annual dues are $390 for a family and $265 for individuals. There’s a one-time, nonrefundable initiation fee of $500 to be a corporation member or a $200 fee to be a club member, but the club is offering an incentive for new members that delays the fee to the second and third years
“People can see if they like the courts, the Har-Tru, the people,” he said.