The Watertown Tennis Club. Still serving on a clay court.
By, JOHN TORSIELLO One hundred and eight years.
That’s a long time and a lot of history has transpired over that span. Tennis has certainly changed, from an elegant game of the well-to-do to a fun-filled colorful, highly-athletic sport that now appeals to all social demographics, young and old alike.
The Watertown Tennis Club, located at 70 Warren Way, has seen all those changes and is going strong. Started in 1908, the club is believed to be the oldest ongoing clay court club in Connecticut.
Its clubhouse was built a few years after three clay courts were open for business. The club has approximately 60 members, and the season begins around mid-May and runs until the end of November, depending upon the weather conditions late in the year.
“We draw our members from Litchfield, Torrington Harwinton, Middlebury, Southbury, and Waterbury in addition to Watertown,” says club president Pauline Hudson. “We host a Family Classic Tournament at the end of June. Winners go on to play at the Connecticut Open site in New Haven.”
Watertown Tennis Club members often team up in matches against other clubs, says Hudson. “It’s for fun. We try to organize matches where other clubs come to us and vice versa whenever possible.”
The draws of joining the club?
“We have friendly people and great clay courts that are good on your body’s joints,” says Hudson. “We have set play days where you just show up and play with whomever comes. We have ladies play days Tuesday, the men on Wednesday, and mixed play Thursday afternoon and Saturday morning.”
She adds, “Tennis is about fitness, skill and competition, but it’s about people too. We have fun together, on and off the court, such as annual opening and closing parties, a Wimbledon breakfast, get-togethers after play on the clubhouse porch, grill nights and more.”
The club offers programs with its pros for juniors, seniors and interested adults.
“Some of our members are fine teachers as well as fine players, and are happy to share their knowledge and skills on and off the court,” says Hudson.
Private lessons are available by appointment only and the fee is $50 an hour, or $30 for a half hour. It’s both a workout and a game improvement opportunity.
Says Steve Boljonis, a club member, “The Watertown Tennis Club is really an old-fashioned club. It has been around for quite some time. Friendly and good-natured are the words with which I would describe the club. The availability is second to none. It is probably the most pleasant non-combative environment I have found in tennis. If you want a social club it is really hard to beat. The physical aspects of the courts are outstanding, three well-maintained clay courts that are shaded under old oak trees. The club is close to busy Watertown, yet it feels like 1950. It really is a hidden jewel of a club.
Offers another member, Chris Visera, “It's a small, intimate club with a bunch of great guys. The clay surface is something that is a friendly change on the body from playing on the hard courts Also, they the club is always organizing great gatherings for its members all through the summer.”
Members of the Watertown Tennis Club range in age from their 30’s into their 80’s. The club is also trying to reboot its junior program this year. Membership fees are $230 for a single, $440 for a couple, and $580 for a family. There are no other fees charged during the year.
“As for the social activities,” says Hudson, “all of them help with a bit of fundraising, as we are non-profit.”
For information, visit www.watertowntennisclub.com, or call 860-945-3600.