The local tennis scene has changed a lot in the past year. This page has a lot of club options, but the new tennis center at George Fox may give Sherwood residents a reason to pause before joining anywhere else. Tennis clubs probably still make sense for families where several people play, for people looking for a big tennis scene, or those who want a mix of tennis and fitness. But for high school players from non-tennis families who are mostly looking for lessons or playing indoors in the winter with their friends, I'm not sure clubs are the best option anymore.
That's because it is hard to compete with the George Fox programs. They have affordable junior lessons and private lessons, and affordable court rental for practicing on your own. Renting courts to play singles twice a week will cost you and your opponent $15/week each. Even if you do that all of October through February, it's about the same as a membership to Charbonneau. If you plan to play more on your own (or want to hit on a ball machine a lot), Charbonneau may be a better option.
But everyone who wants to keep playing tennis in the winter should check out georgefoxtenniscenter.com as one of the first places to explore.
When you start talking about tennis clubs, you start talking about investing time and money to become a better player. And what you get out of a membership depends on what you put into it. Joining the fanciest club in town doesn’t do you any good if you don’t get out and practice.
Do I recommend tennis clubs for everyone? No. I recommend them for people who really want to improve their tennis game by having the ability to play year-round and potentially get lessons from professional instructors. (If you aren’t going to try to use them several times per week, you probably aren’t getting your money’s worth.) Clubs are also great places to be exposed to lots of other players who play tennis seriously.
One of the most important things to consider when joining a club is who you will play with. Lots of people join and don’t get very much use out of them because they don’t have anyone to play with. When I joined as a junior, I joined with my doubles partner and he was my practice partner 75% of my time there. Options for playing at clubs as a junior:
Playing mostly in group lessons. These can be 2-3 days per week, but get expensive if that’s what you are doing.
Playing with friends who you know going in.
Joining a junior team at a club to meet people to practice with. You’ll generally need to take the initiative to actually get kids from other schools to go out and play though.
Find some adults to play. Most adult members will be willing to play practice matches against junior players who they see around a lot. That is great practice - you may have better shots than the old people, but they know ways to beat you.
Play with your parents if they play and join with you.
Hit on a ball machine.
That being said, here are the local clubs:
Charbonneau (Wilsonville, cheapest by far, but you’ll really want to bring a friend, and there are some annoyances)
You can only join on July 1 and January 1, and you apply in advance.
$100 non-refundable application fee. They may not let you join when you want – you may get deferred by 6 months.
Single Membership – about $400 per year. Family Membership – about $550 per year.
2 courts (but membership is limited to keep them kind of available)
Good teaching pro but without too many classes. But class prices are reasonable.
No staff – just a building with two courts and a passcode to get you in the door.
Online reservation system where it helps to be awake at midnight to book your courts.
Ball Machine use is free.
Stafford Hills (Tualatin, most expensive and nicest): This is a great full-function/full-family place to be.
Up to $1000 to join, then over $100/month for a junior membership. $2000 and about $200/month for a family
7 indoor courts.
Multiple teaching pros and lots of lessons available, but they can be a bit spendy.
Full gym and great pool, lots of fitness classes included in membership. It’s all very nice.
Online reservation system where you book courts at either 7am or 7:30am.
Ball machine use is $30/month ($240/year).
Mountain Park (Lake Oswego, expensive for adults, but not ridiculous for juniors).
Junior memberships are more accessible. Several hundred to join, but under $80/month after that (I think – call to check to confirm). Family memberships are a bit less than Stafford Hills, but not a ton.
9 indoor courts
Great teaching pros and extensive junior program (this is where the Lake Oswego dominance comes from). The lessons are fairly expensive though.
Dial-in reservation system (8:30 call in time – it is super annoying).
Small gym and a few fitness classes.
Ball machine isn’t free – probably has a single use or monthly rate to use it.
Portland Athletic Club (Raleigh Hills area):
Trying to get back in the scene, but I don't know much about it. It's been generally off the radar for 20 years.
They have appealing month-to-month junior memberships:
$89/month for just access to the courts
$99/month for membership + 1 group lesson a week
$115/month for membership + 2 group lessons a week
$139/month for membership + 3 group lessons a week (this is an awesome price for what you get - this would cost easily over $200/month anywhere else, and because it is monthly, you can just do it during the wet months without having to pay year-round.
I can't tell you much more and cannot vouch for the quality of instruction, but just hitting balls a few times a week for this price is valuable.
Tennis Academies: If you are super serious about tennis, talk to Todd about these academies. I have varying opinions of them.