Rob: Join us and rally round

With the loss of thousands of work
permits over the past year, it’s not just commercial businesses that have felt
the downturn in the Cayman Islands; some sports facilities have less patronage
too. The Tennis Club in South Sound, the only private members club of its kind,
is one of them.

So Rob Seward, the club pro, is
promoting the club to try to attract new members. One special promotion is a
membership disount until 31 March 2011. New members won’t have to pay an
entrance fee.

Considering how exclusive it is,
membership fees are extremely reasonable – $200 entrance fee for a single
member and then it’s $250 a year. Court fees are reasonable too – $16 for an
hour and a half. There are two other certified pros with Seward, Adam Bayley
and Dale Avery.

“Because the economics are not good
and to get more people involved, we’re going to waive the new members entrance
fee,” Seward said. “Since there is five months left until 31 March, people can
join for 105 bucks. Obviously, we’re the largest tennis complex on the island.
We have nine courts, six of them hard courts and the others carpet clay courts.

“Part of the reason for
highlighting our fees is that three separate people recently told me that they
thought it was $1,000 to join and the same amount in membership fees. They also
thought the court fees were $50 an hour.”

Seward was born into tennis because
his father was the general manager at the Country Club of Colorado which had 16
courts. He says that the four years he spent playing collegiate tennis at the
University of San Diego were the best of his life. He played
semi-professionally in France before returning to San Diego where he coached at
the Barnes Tennis Centre. He arrived in Cayman a couple of weeks after
Hurricane Ivan devastated the Island in September 2004 and was worried that
there would be no job for him. Thankfully, he was needed to help clean things
up and get the club back into shape. It has been an enjoyable time since but
he’s rarely seen the club so quiet. All the visiting pros make a point of
visiting the tennis club and they’ve even played pro-am tournaments there.
Stars like John McEnroe, Jim Courier and Mats Wilander have all enjoyed playing
at the club.

“We offer adult local and overseas
memberships. Junior memberships are as low as $50 and juniors can play for free
up to 5.30pm. So that’s as cheap as chips. What members get is that they get to
attend socials, play in all our tournaments, especially the biggest one the PWC
in February. That’s an open tournament but there are other tournaments that
others don’t know about just for members.

“We offer the largest junior
programme on the island and it’s the most reasonable as far as costs go.
Sometimes people get stressed because of economic reasons and they stop
exercising. But this is a very enjoyable and affordable way of coping with the
stress. Tennis is one of those things that’s there for a lifetime. No matter
how bad or good you are, you can always play it for the rest of your life.

“Our range of adult membership
ranges from early 20s schoolteachers to 80-year-old retired men and women. It’s
a great mix of people too, from local Caymanians to ex-pats. It’s a very
inclusive sport.”

Before Christmas the club will be
having the veterans tournament next month and also a six-week junior programme
starting on 1 November. There is a junior tournament running over 5-6 November
to tie in with the Legends tournament featuring Jim Courier and Michael Chang
at the Ritz-Carlton. All in all, the tennis club is a smashing place to join.

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