"Racquet Club plans expansionWith members on the upswing, the club hopes to add courts and a pool."
June 9, 2008 · Updated 3:46 PM
"The tennis club wants to put on weight and make some waves.In what would be a major expansion, the Bainbridge Island Racquet Club on Koura Road wants to add a fitness center and two swimming pools to its tennis and racquetball courts.Our approach to tennis has been to be family friendly and welcoming, said club owner Ted Eisenhardt. We want to take that same approach and integrate fitness and swimming.The aquatic complex Eisenhardt envisions would have a 25-yard-long lap pool with perhaps four lanes, and an irregularly shaped fitness pool for water aerobics.The fitness pool would be a zero-entry pool, where a wheelchair could be rolled right into the water.These will not be competition facilities like at the Ray Williamson complex, Eisenhardt said. There won't be diving.The plan is for both pools to be in a glass enclosure with a retractable roof that would open during good weather and close during bad.The fitness area will have weight machines, free weights and cardiovascular fitness gear, Eisenhardt said. There will be several rooms for exercise groups and yoga, and the locker areas will be rebuilt.The club is working with city planning officials to determine exactly where everything can be built.We know what spaces we want, but we don't know exactly where we're going to put them, Eisenhardt said.The preferred location for the pool complex would be in the parking lot to the east of the main structure. Parking would then be expanded into a portion of the four acres that the club owns to the north of the present structure, which sits off Koura Road adjacent to Meadowmeer Golf Course.Any expansion would be done on the interior portion of the club's property, Eisenhardt said.The Racquet Club was originally built in the late 1970s. A decade later, Eisenhardt said, it was showing some signs of benign neglect under an owner who spent much of his time in Hawaii.Eisenhardt stepped in and bought the club in 1991.The Seattle native had gone to college in Los Angeles, then finished an MBA. He was running a tennis club in the Pasadena area when he and his wife started their family, and were looking for an area more conducive to raising children than Southern California.I was trying to decide whether to stay in tennis or do something else, and this gave us the opportunity to get back to my roots without being too close, he said.When he took over the club, it was something of a one-man operation.I was the head pro, bottle washer and everything else, he said.The club has now grown to 300 members, some 250 of which are active tennis players. In ability level, they range from some of the top age-group players in the Northwest to novices who walk and in say 'what end of the racquet do I hold,' Eisenhardt said.There are now two fulltime tennis professionals and five part-time instructors, Eisenhardt said.Eisenhardt said that construction could take six months once the permits are secured. But because the permitting process involves not only the city but the state health department, which has jurisdiction over swimming pools, that process could take awhile.When the expansion is completed, though, he believes the club will broaden its appeal considerably.We may be able to attract people who like to play a little tennis, but not enough to join the club for that alone, or to a family where maybe there is only one tennis player, he said.Eisenhardt said the same approach the club has taken to tennis would apply to fitness as well.We don't staff to bring in whip-cracking coaches. We want strong technical people, but we want them to be people people as well, he said. "