People play tennis at the Brattleboro Outing Club. (Zachary P. Stephens/Brattleboro Reformer)
People play tennis at the Brattleboro Outing Club. (Zachary P. Stephens/Brattleboro Reformer)
Friday May 24, 2013

BRATTLEBORO -- The volunteers who run the Brattleboro Outing Club tennis program understand that no one is going to stumble across the courts by accident or stop to watch a match while out walking. The six clay courts, which members say are some of the most beautiful in New England, are tucked away on Cedar Street, behind a thick stand of trees, and back up to a steep hillside.

So this year the club is inviting anyone who ever swung a tennis racket, or even thought about it, to visit the courts on Memorial Day.

Every Memorial Day the tennis club hosts an open house to invite the public in, and this year volunteers are trying to spread the word about the facility as the club finds it tougher to find volunteers and faces declining enrollment.

On Monday, May 27, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the BOC tennis courts at 202 Cedar Street, the tennis club will hold a mixer. The club will supply food and help set up games of doubles for long-time members, as well as for anyone who might be interested in joining the club or just wants to check out the facility.

"We are trying to reinvigorate the club by reaching out to the community," said Hyam Siegel, chairman of the BOC Tennis Committee. "A lot of people don't know we exist, or don't know what the club does, and we want to change that."

The BOC tennis program is open to the public.

Membership is $190 a per year, which Siegel says is one of the lowest annual rates in the area.

Siegel explained that the mixer this year is actually the first step of a year-long initiative to develop a long-range marketing plan to help strengthen the membership of the club.

The club has seen its membership fall by about half over the past 20 years, with the number of members dropping from 400 to 200.

At the same time, as everyone has become more busy, members are opting to pay the $50 volunteer fee rather than put in the time required to run the volunteer club.

At the mixer on Monday Siegel said the club is hoping to show off its courts and clubhouse.

He also said the club is trying to overcome some misconceptions that the annual fee is expensive, that the club is elitist or that there is a waiting list to join.

"We can't survive if we only depend on the older folks," Siegel said. "There is no other club like us, which is not for profit and run by volunteers, but we need new energy to keep it going."

For more information on BOC, and the tennis program, go to www.brattleborooutingclub.org.

Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 279, or hwtisman@reformer.com. Follow Howard on Twitter @HowardReformer.