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GOTTA LOVE TENNIS
By Jodi Nash


 

Chestnut Forks Tennis Club in Warrenton has partnered with Fairfax-based Blue Chip Sports Management in a two-year mission to revamp its programming, operational systems, and overall management strategy in an effort to update the facility in a rapidly expanding health and fitness market.

The club, which opened in 1975, has always had a family feel, with owners Chip Maloney, and now his son Derek, working as general managers. Tim Bainton, founder and CEO of Blue Chip, already was familiar with the club, and recognizes its unique personal appeal.

"Chestnut Forks has a great social network, a culture of family, and loyal staff, who are willing to adjust and make the changes necessary to grow," he said. "We want to capitalize on that, create synergy between the tennis, outdoor swim club, and fitness elements. Think one-stop fitness home away from home."

With four indoor and four outdoor hard courts, Bainton wants to use every inch of the 46,000-square foot space. By fall, the club hopes to construct a bubble structure over the outdoor courts for maximum year-round use, especially with the demand for indoor tennis moving out from the D.C. area.

With only a handful of indoor tennis clubs in the area, Bainton expects to capture a bigger share of the competitive market. Under consideration is adding pickleball "socials" to start with, and golf simulators and pool tables for use in an under-utilized fitness area that will be redesigned. A courtside café is already operating, and plans for an indoor viewing deck are underway.

Bainton said he wants to put the primary focus on tennis. He has a degree in economics from George Mason University and a Master's in business and sports Industry management from Georgetown. He's also a serious tennis player and a USTA certified High Performance Coach who has co-authored the books The Complete Coach and The Complete Player.

Chestnut Forks utilizes about 65 per cent of its tennis court availability. Bainton and the Maloneys want to max that capacity out

through ancillary program development. Increasing revenue through classes, clinics, lessons, summer camps, tournament play and training packages is a goal, as is giving tennis pros a definitive stake in the game.

"Tennis pros and coaches need to understand there are corporate expectations, and be trained to invest in and support the club," Bainton saqid. "There is a tendency for pros, with no brick and mortar investment in the business, to be tone deaf about customer sales and service. If their bonus or raise is directly connected to an increase in sales revenue, then we have a change for the overall good. When you increase the money put into health and fitness, it benefits all of us."

Outreach efforts into the local community, both private and public schools, and partnering with private country clubs or gated communities to develop and manage their tennis programs may well play a part in Chestnut Forks' corporate reboot. As Derek Maloney said, "We believe Chestnut Forks programming will outdistance any other tennis club. We welcome the competition, but absolutely want to be the best in the region."

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