SCLTC celebrating 130 years

Free day and membership discounts part of anniversary

For its 130th year of operations, the South Cowichan Lawn Tennis Club is trying something new.

The historic club is holding a free day of tennis this coming Sunday for what is believed to be the first time ever, and offering significant discounts on memberships for the month of June, or for the entire season for junior athletes.

The idea of offering a free day has made the rounds over the years, but this is the first time the club has made it happen.

“We’ve talked about it as a board,” SCLTC president Mitchell Fagan explains. “And we just decided to pick a day and do it.”

Access to the courts will be free from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

The SCLTC is the only grass-court club in Canada, and one of the oldest in the world, having opened just 10 years after Wimbledon and 15 years after the founding of the first tennis club. It quite possibly claims the honour of being the longest-running grass club anywhere.

“All the grass-court clubs in Europe apparently closed during the war,” Fagan says. “So we say we’re the longest continually operating grass-court club in the world.”

Trial memberships with full playing privileges are just $50 for the month of June. Ordinarily, memberships are $368 for local players, $273 for those from out of the area, or $158 for off-Island residents.

The courts, which opened for the season last Saturday, are in good condition according to Fagan, and should be even better if the hot weather holds up.

The SCLTC may be famous for its grass courts, but also boasts a couple of hard courts. Hard-court-only memberships are $100 for the entire season.

“We just resurfaced the hard courts in the fall,” Fagan notes. “We probably have the nicest hard courts around.”

Full memberships aren’t required to enjoy the club’s facilities. Guests can play for $25, or $20 if accompanied by a member. There is also a Groupon deal available for $15.

Ultimately, the SCLTC hopes the 130th anniversary initiatives help boost membership. The club, which functions as a non-profit, has only about 125 members. Club pro Art Hobbs has also started a social media push to try and bring younger members in.

“Our average member is in their 60s,” Fagan says. “We have no 25-year-old or 35-year-old players.”

Junior memberships for players under 18 have been discounted to $50 for the entire season as well. The club does have several dozen kids who come to learn from Hobbs on the hard courts, and holds camps in July and August.

The club’s busy tournament schedule this season includes the Grass Court Classic on June 30-July 3, the 130th Vancouver Island Grass Court Challenge on July 24-29, the 29th Biondo Grass Court Championships on Aug. 4-7, and the Kay Wilson Memorial Doubles Triple Knockout on Aug. 18-20.

For more information, call 250-746-7282, email info@lawntennis.ca, or visit www.lawntennis.ca

Cowichan Valley Citizen

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