Since it opened more than two years ago, the staff at Redmond Tennis Club (RTC) has worked to provide programming for tennis lovers of all ages and skill levels.
From building its junior tennis programs for students as young as 3, to athletes looking to earn scholarships to Division I colleges and universities, to serving adult members who enjoy playing tennis as a hobby, the indoor tennis facility on Redmond Ridge has something for everyone.
And despite its name and location, RTC serves members and athletes throughout the Eastside and Puget Sound area, including Bellevue, Kirkland, Sammamish Renton and Seattle.
Now, with South African company Caylix Sport Management as a recent investor, the club is also able to offer local players additional opportunities to enter international tennis tournaments and gain world ranking points through the Association of Tennis Professionals.
A LONG-TIME PARTNERSHIP
Charl Faurie, who represents Caylix and was recently appointed as CEO for RTC, came on board to invest in the club about a year ago.
He said this came about through his relationship with Justin Bower, head coach and one of the owners of RTC. Faurie said he has known Bower — a fellow South African — for about 20 years. They met when Bower first started playing tennis professionally and Faurie became his sports agent.
Since then the two kept in touch regularly and when Bower began talking about expanding RTC about a year ago, he mentioned needing someone who could focus more on the administrative side of the business.
Faurie said he saw the potential for RTC, which led Caylix to invest in the club.
Caylix runs the Futures Tennis Tournaments (FTT) in South Africa, which is sanctioned by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and Faurie said RTC athletes can now participate in the competition as wildcard entries. He said it’s not always easy for athletes to get into the tournament and this gives them an extra opportunity, or a shortcut, to enter.
FTT takes place in September and October of every year and RTC co-owner and Bower said they are looking to enter two to four athletes in 2018.
SERVING THE GREATER COMMUNITY
Bower said he had wanted to run his own tennis club for a while. He spent about six months looking at warehouses in the area, saying he had wanted to open a club closer to the Bellevue-Kirkland area. He decided on the Redmond Ridge location because it was the nicest warehouse he looked at during his search.
RTC features three indoor tennis courts, a gym, sauna, steam-room and massage facilities. The club is currently expanding to include three additional indoor courts, a pickleball court and specialty indoor fitness training facility. According to an RTC press release, the latter will be run and managed by Fit2Play, a company that specializes in tennis specific training and athletic development. The expansion is scheduled to be completed this month.
“We are excited about the growth potential of RTC due to the development of infrastructure coupled with the expanding human settlements in the Redmond Ridge area,” Faurie said in the release. “Due to high demand, we have put a waiting list in place that can only accommodate 100 potential new members after expansion. This cap is necessary as we have to ensure that our members get sufficient access to court availability, an obstacle at many other tennis facilities.”
Ultimately, the release states that RTC will have nine indoor hard courts as well as three outdoor red-clay courts.
“Once we reach our end goal, RTC will be a facility unlike any other in the Pacific Northwest,” Bower said in the release.
TENNIS FOR ALL AGES AND SKILL LEVELS
Bower said one of his goals for RTC was to create an immersive club that included both a membership and family experience, as well as high-performance program for more serious athletes.
When he first opened the club, it initially just featured a junior program for athletes between 12 and 18 years old. The program has now expanded to include athletes as young as 3. Bower said they divide the program into three separate age groups from 4-18.
He said through their junior program, they wanted to build a pathway so younger kids can start playing tennis with them and graduate to subsequent levels — essentially going from the tennis version of first grade through 12th grade.
Since the club opened, Bower said there have been about eight athletes who have gone through their junior program and onto Division I schools, adding that they have another half dozen or so players who will be going to college in two years.
“We are committed to presenting the best program for the development of players of every skill level – from beginners as young as four to advanced players whose goal it is to obtain a tennis scholarship or even to turn professional,” Bower said in the release.
It took another nine months or so after opening to start developing RTC’s adult programming.
“We started to slowly grow our adult member base,” Bower said.
Faurie said on this side of the business, they focus on the idea of being a service to the community.
INTERNATIONAL TENNIS ON A LOCAL STAGE
In addition, Faurie said they hope to bring an exhibition tennis match to RTC and feature two top-ranking players. This event would also include tennis clinics with the professional athletes.
“We would like to bring that back and do it on an annual basis,” he said.
In addition, former professionals, including erstwhile world number-one player Matts Wilander, will also participate.
“We are currently negotiating with local companies to obtain sponsorships for this event,” Faurie said in the release.