Rancho Santa Fe Tennis Club board hopes new membership categories will create net advantage

The Rancho Santa Fe Association board has approved four new membership categories for the Rancho Santa Fe Tennis Club to help boost memberships, generate more dues revenue and maintain the health and vitality of the community asset.

Dave Vandenberg, tennis club board member, made the request of the RSF Association board at the board’s Dec. 4 meeting. He said he believes the new categories will help the RSF Tennis Club deal with a situation in which memberships have been declining significantly over the past 10 years.

Vandenberg said it has been a “slug,” but just last week they met their annual membership quota and they feel that the new categories can strengthen their situation.

“What has been a tradition of losing members, we’ve reversed that position and it’s going back up again and that’s through a tremendous amount of work by our board,” Vandenberg said, noting that the club operates without a manager.

One new category seemed to be a “no-brainer”— allowing members of the RSF Golf Club to join for a reduced enrollment of $500 rather than the initiation fee of $3,750.

Vandenberg said he expects to see a number of people come over from the RSF Golf Club.

A second category targets reinstatements. Former members used to have to pay into the thousands to rejoin, but now rejoining members won’t have to pay any further enrollment fees, just regular dues.

“If we drop those fees, we might get them back in,” Vandenberg said.

The category of extended family membership seeks to bring people who are already regularly using the club into the fold and paying dues. Vandenberg said they have had a problem issue over the years of people essentially playing illegally, coming as many times as twice a week over the past 12 years and just paying the $5 guest fees.

To help “clean things up in the club and adhere to the rules,” the new category would charge these members $1,000 to be a part of an extended family membership and get them paying monthly dues.

The board wanted to make sure that the membership is tied to a Covenant member in good standing and to place a cap of 25 members on the category and review its impact annually.

Last, the club will now offer a social membership, which would allow aging club members to stay and keep the club active for $500 a year.

The board also approved raising the age for a junior membership and unmarried children of members to 25 years of age.

Director Heather Slosar wondered whether some of these changes were watering down the Association brand and would result in courts being taken up by non-resident members.

Slosar said she’s struggled to get her children on a court for lessons and had to wait as they were all taken up by pros and non-residents.

Vandenberg said that he’s thrilled that she would say the club was busy.

“We have lots of programs going on,” Vandenberg said. “We started with 12 in our junior program and now there are over 60 kids.”

A partnership he is working on with the Rancho Santa Fe School District could bring that number to 70.