Bayside Tennis Club doing its part to support Special Olympics athletes Published in The Coastal Point: June 24, 2016 By Maria Counts Staff Reporter
Although the Special Olympics Delaware Summer Games wrapped up earlier this month, Sussex County SODE athletes are still going strong. Athletes from Sussex Riptide continue to be active in their sports, by attending practices. Marie McIntosh, one of the coaches for the area athletes of the Sussex Riptide, said that the athletes are fortunate to be able to use the Bayside Tennis Club’s facilities in the summer, when Sea Colony — where they practice in the winter — is too busy. “We’ve been at Bayside every summer for the last, I would say, 10 years,” said McIntosh, who is an equity member at Bayside. The athletes first started using Bayside’s facilities after McIntosh simply asked for court time. “They, from the very beginning, allowed us to play tennis here in the summers.”
The club’s vice-president, Sandi Roberts, said supporting the athletes has always been an easy decision. “We look at it as a way to give back to the community. It’s something we can do to reach out,” she said. Roberts also has a personal perspective, as she is a local special-education teacher. “The kids I work with at Selbyville Middle School are not necessarily the kids that excel in the classroom, but a lot of times my kids are the ones who excel on the football field or on the basketball court,” she explained. “The feeling a kid gets when they get a test back from the teacher with an ‘A’ on it is exactly the same way a kid feels when they score a touchdown, or if they’re on a tennis court and they hit the overhead shot that wins the game and wins the match. It gives them a sense of accomplishment. "For kids with special needs, they don’t always get that sense of accomplishment in the classroom. So we can provide that for them on a tennis court.”
The athletes practice tennis every Tuesday evening, with courts being reserved for the practice. Some Bayside members even help coach during the practices. "There are so many athletes — we need the help. Mary Headman is there almost every Tuesday night, which is really great. [Club President] Al Preziosi — he also helped us with coaching the athletes,” she said, adding, “And they don’t have any problem with any of the coaches that we bring in, because we bring some of the volunteer coaches that help us over from Sea Colony.”
While the Sussex Riptide has approximately 300 athletes in all, approximately 30 live in the local area. “We’re growing,” said McIntosh of the number of athletes who play tennis. “We started out with maybe five athletes, and over the years now, we’re up to about 15.”
McIntosh said the athletes do not have to compete in the sport in order to participate in practices. “We open up events to all of our athletes. The biggest thing they get out of this is socialization. They get to socialize with their friends that are athletes, and that’s the biggest, biggest benefit,” she said. “We’ve gotten a couple of new athletes this year, and one of them, she’s going to be a tennis player!”
Jay Clark, who serves on the club’s board of directors, said supporting the local athletes is “just a matter of being a good member of the community. We are a small club. We have only a little over 80 memberships. We’re club that’s been around for over 30 years.” Clark said that supporting SODE athletes isn’t its only community outreach, as they are offering their facilities for veterans and their families participating in Operation SEAs the Day. Roberts said the club is open to helping other area nonprofits, although they would need to receive a request.
"The club is open to membership inquiries as well," said Clark. “The club has four hard courts — two that are standard hard courts and two that are on a somewhat cushioned hard-court surface. They play more like a clay court… They’re a little easier on the knees and ankles,” he said. “Two of the four have just been refinished and painted. The other two have just been power-washed.” The facilities also boast a pavilion that can, inside and out, seat around 50 people. They also hold social events in the summer months, which include food, drinks and the company of others.
McIntosh said she’s thankful for the club not only donating the use of its facilities free of charge but also its continued financial support. “They give a contribution to Special Olympics every year, in monetary contribution, which is very nice. Without question, they do it every single year. They are very, very supportive,” she said. “Some of their members give us private contributions. We just bought a trike with the money that one of the members gave us. Dennis Roberts gives us a contribution every single year from his business. That kind of support is just unbelievable. We get a lot of support. Bayside is a small club, so for them to give us that kind of support is really incredible.”
McIntosh said it’s wonderful to live in a community that is so supportive of Special Olympics and its athletes. “It’s truly been enveloped by the community — not only by Bayside, but Sea Colony, Bear Trap. We’ve been very fortunate that these places support us. It’s great.”
For more information about Special Olympics Delaware, visit www.sode.org. For more information about Bayside Tennis Club or to inquire about membership, visit baysidetennisclub.com.
Bayside club offers season passes Tennis resort offers year-round access Published in The Wave on July 13, 2010 By Nick Roth Staff Writer
BETHANY BEACH -- For people looking for an easy-going tennis experience at the beach, Bayside Tennis Club may be just what they're looking for. The small tennis club, located just down Kent Avenue from tennis giant Sea Colony, has been up-and-running for more than 35 years. "It's better (than Sea Colony)," seasonal member Beth Bardo said. "I have better access to courts at Bayside and I don't have to compete with pros wanting the court space."
Bardo said she originally purchased a summer home in the area in order to take advantage of Sea Colony's vast tennis offerings. She quickly found it was difficult to get onto the courts and knew a change was needed. She found that Bayside was offering $400 season passes to families, which gave them full access the club's courts for a 12-month period. The club began offering the season passes last summer, and she said she's back again this summer. "We offered it last year and we had about a half dozen memberships," Club President John Savage said. "It's for people to use year round, even in the winter too."
Long-term memberships are also available. For an initial $2,400 and $150 annual fee, an equity membership can be purchased, which gives someone the same benefits as a season pass but also partial ownership of the club's land. The fee can be paid in three installments, Savage said. With the bylaws limiting the membership at 80, Bayside is designed to stay small.
The club was created in 1974 by a group of South Bethany residents who wanted a place to play tennis. They purchased the land from a widow of a South Bethany developer and created plans for six courts. Today, four courts have been built on the grounds -- two hard courts and two softer courts, similar to clay.
Middlesex Beach summer resident Missy LePage said the club is perfect for what she was looking for. As a year round tennis player in the Baltimore area, she said she wanted to continue to play when she came to the beach for the summer. Bayside Tennis Club's season pass was perfect for her, she said. "With the economy, (the equity membership) is a lot of money to put out," she said. "(The season pass) is a great way to see how much you use it and if it's worth it. I think it's wonderful. I'm hooked."
A secret tennis oasis in the middle of it all Published in The Coastal Point on August 8, 2008 By Monica Fleming Staff Reporter
When you live here, it’s easy to ride by a place day after day and never really notice it. If it’s off the beaten track a bit and there’s no reason to turn in or check it out, the hustle and bustle of life at the beach can make it easy for some places to hide from the masses and exist quietly among their surroundings.
Case in point: Bayside Tennis Club, off of Kent Avenue heading inland, just past the light at Sea Colony and just before the turn at Cat Hill, on the curve. Right smack in front of the water tower, surrounded by woods, there is an opening of sunshine that houses four tennis courts (with space for six). You could blink and miss them, even though they have been there since 1974.
The private, equity-owned club has a grassroots history. According to records, the developer of South Bethany died and his widow, Elizabeth Iggy Hall, sold the land to the club for cheap. Members of the South Bethany Town Council sent out surveys to see if people would be interested in joining and got lots of responses. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Today, the club boasts a family-like atmosphere. Each summer they have three tennis socials — one in June, July and August — and each year they celebrate the end of summer with a Sunday-before-Labor Day full of contests and games, food and fellowship.
Although, in the past, they had a waiting list, they are now actively seeking memberships and there is no wait. “When I started, I rode by and saw the sign, and I love tennis and had never heard about it,” said board member John Savage. “I sent a post card to the P.O. Box and heard back a year or so later, and they said they had room,” he remembered, laughing.
Nancy Gallons, a full-time South Bethany resident and member of the club, remembered how she first found out about it. “I love to play tennis, too. One day I saw a member riding his bike by my house and he had a tennis bag and racquet — so I chased him! I caught up with him and he said, ‘Sure, I’ll have my wife call you,’ and I played the next day,” she recalled.
Family memberships are available for a one-time fee of $2,400, which can be paid in two or three installments, plus a yearly $150 membership fee. As an equity membership, each family owns 1/80 of the club.
“It’s a great deal,” said past president and board member Dick Fox. “And another great thing is it’s for the whole family, and guests are free.”
The club has many different men and women’s groups, and has a pretty open schedule, with the exception of a weekly Round Robin (mixed doubles) on Tuesday mornings. People simply sign up at the pavilion and, according to Fox, can play as much as they want. “Conceivably, you could play five days a week,” Fox said. “Everybody can usually get what they want.”
They have four courts: two with a hard surface and two with a slightly cushioned surface to simulate clay for people who need to keep a careful watch on their knees, ankles and backs. Two of the courts, one each in the front and back, are open year-round. The courts are regularly maintained, and there is a pavilion for social and other club events. The club also supports the Special Olympics by letting them use the courts weekly and supports the Bethany Beach Fourth of July Parade.
“When I joined three or four years ago, I was just struck by how friendly people are,” recalled Savage. “Sometimes I’d get frustrated or didn’t do something right, and would say ‘sorry’ and the people here just said, ‘Forget about it — Sorry is a board game.’”
Members of the “best kept secret in Bethany” can be from anywhere. They have active members from Lewes, Fenwick Island, Bethany, South Bethany and inland, and have “commuting members” from all over, including Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington, D.C., New Jersey, Wisconsin, and Georgia, to name a few. Kids are welcome and can play “as soon as they can hold a racquet.”
For more information or to join, write to P.O. Box 323 Bethany Beach, DE 19930. And the next time you drive by something for the millionth time, slow down and see what you are missing.