Tri-Cities Voice Newspaper - What's Happening - Fremont, Union City, Newark California

March 15, 2005 > The Club at Mission Hills

The Club at Mission Hills

by Ceri Hitchcock-Hodgson

The 13-acre wooded landscape is dotted with tennis courts, a swimming pool, lawns and a clubhouse. It is a special place for sport, fitness and relaxation that shares a venerable history. The site once was part of Kimber Farms, Inc. which pioneered scientific breeding of chickens and turkeys and contained a "recreation park" for employees of the large company. When housing was built on the surrounding property, "Kimberwoods" as it was known, became part of the development. The club was purchased in 1997 and is now a membership club that welcomes public participation in classes and events.

Only steps from shopping and other businesses, The Club at Mission Hills is tucked away among tall trees and lush surroundings. Stepping on to the picturesque grounds, you will find a tennis club with a friendly staff ready to assist you at the clubhouse, swimming pool, childcare center and tennis courts.

A common misconception about The Club is that it is strictly for neighborhood residents with exclusive memberships. Not true.

"It is not member-only in the strictest sense of the word," noted club manager and tennis director Carol Conidi. "All of the tennis programs, lessons...have non-member rights. You can use the facility as a non-member for classes and that kind of thing."

The highlight of The Club at Mission Hills is 13 lighted tennis courts, reserved well into the evening by both pros and beginners alike. Courts can be reserved two days in advance for two-hour time slots, one of the longest reservation periods available in the area.

The club is also a popular spot for tennis tournaments. Mission Hills hosts a junior tourney for novices, through the United States Tennis Association (USTA), and a "twelve's" championship for children 12 years old. USTA league matches draw large groups of spectators who often come to watch and enjoy the social atmosphere, noted Conidi.

The courts are also utilized by the tennis team at Mission San Jose High School, who play their home matches at the club. The girl's team uses the courts for a fund-raiser each September.

Junior tournaments are open to non-members and a member/guest tournament takes place in August. For the last two years, during Labor Day weekend, the club has co-hosted the Pacific Coast Championships with Fremont Tennis Center. The club also hosts the Betsy Gravett Women's Doubles Tennis Tournament organized by family and friends of one the club's pros to support her struggle against a brain tumor. The next tournament will be held the weekend of June 23-24. The public is welcome to attend this and other tournaments.

Unlike other restrictive tennis clubs, memberships to The Club at Mission Hills are readily available, said Condidi, "The club would love to get more members."

There are various types of memberships including individual, couples and family. Junior memberships for youths 12 and over are also available. Off-peak memberships allow access Monday through Friday until 6 p.m. when activity at the club is at its lowest. The swim and fitness membership is widely held among neighborhood residents while a full membership, which includes tennis, is popular among residents throughout the area.

All new members are invited to an orientation by a personal trainer who shows them the in's and out's of the club. New members also receive a complimentary computerized fitness analysis to assist them to achieve fitness goals. For tennis members, instructors evaluate the new member's level of play so he or she can be introduced to other members at their level of play and, if requested, an appropriate USTA league team.

Mission Hills features a cardio fitness and strength training room, a group exercise studio, a sports and recreation field and locker rooms with saunas. There is also a sand volleyball court which is popular on sunny summer days.

A popular year round spot at the club is the outdoor heated pool with hot tub. During the summer, families can be found relaxing on the large pool deck in one of the numerous lounge chairs. Professional swim instruction is available in conjunction with SwimAmerica, the nation's leading learn to swim school, during the summer. SwimAmerica is the only swim lesson program endorsed by the American Swimming Coaches Association, the most prestigious coaches association in the world. Private tennis and swimming lessons are available to members and non-members alike.

The club offers a wide range of classes for members and non-members including spinning, fitness and pilates classes and yoga and sculpture classes and kick-boxing.

"People come to work out, to play tennis and families come to lounge around the pool," said Conidi.

Peak times at the club are in the evening when members take advantage of the 13 lighted tennis courts. Weekday evenings and weekend mornings are the busiest time at the club.
Large, lush trees surround the courts providing much-needed shade during summer play.

Currently, Conidi says that the youngest tennis player at the club is four years old. She is thinking of instituting a class for three and four year olds. On the other hand, recently retired individuals occasionally arrive at the club to play tennis for the first time. The USTA has recently decided to expand their appeal to the after-50 market, those who have never played or who have taken extended sabbaticals from the sport. In June, The Club at Mission Hills will host an USTA open house for the general public to demonstrate that tennis is a sport for everyone at all ages.

Tennis is no longer the sole domain of the wealthy and snooty upper crust of society. Times have changed and so has tennis dress and style. For kids, this change means everyone can join the fun. "The biggest thing about our program is we really try and encourage kids to have fun. Fun is the most important thing and along the way we hope we teach them some skills and good [court] behavior. It's more than just tennis," added Conidi.

Conidi says that The Club at Mission Hills also has beginner-adult programs and drop-in adult programs for those just starting out. All coaches at Mission Hills are certified by either the US Professional Tennis Association or Professional Tennis Registry, the two teaching organizations for tennis professionals.

A full-membership including tennis privileges, is reasonably priced and a more limited swim-fitness membership is available at price that is competitive with other facilities. Off-peak memberships are a low cost alternative for those who can use the facilities during mid-day hours.

"We're very much a family-focused club. We're kid-friendly," noted Conidi.

"Tennis-whites" are in the past and not required at Mission Hills. Conidi noted that, "Tennis attire these days isn't collared shirts anymore. Watch the U.S. Open; you don't see a collar on these guys for the most part. The whole look has changed so shorts and t-shirts are perfectly acceptable."

The Club at Mission Hills is nestled in a residential area near Mission Boulevard but new area residents are often unaware of its presence. "It's right in the middle of our neighborhood," said Conidi of the tree-surrounded club. "Most people don't even notice it when they drive by." She says that when people find the club, they are impressed with its tranquil surroundings and bucolic nature. When visiting, guests and members can sit outside and gaze at the trees, surrounding hills and feel the serenity of the locale; it is like taking a vacation.

The Club at Mission Hills will hold a Margarita Mixer on March 19 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. It will include tennis with dinner and cocktails follow. The cost is $14 for members and $18 for non-members.

Winter hours (Mon. - Fri., 6 a.m. - 10 p.m. and Sat. and Sun., 7 a.m. - 9 p.m.) at The Club continue through March 31. Beginning April 1, hours of operation will be Mon. - Fri., 6 a.m. - 10 p.m. and Sat. and Sun., 7 a.m. - 10 p.m.

The Club at Mission Hills is located at 10 East Las Palmas Ave., Fremont. For more information about the Betsy Gravett tournament or to inquire about classes or membership, call (510) 656-2250.

 
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