Rancho Santa Fe Association to analyze Rancho Santa Fe Tennis Club operations

The Rancho Santa Fe Association board plans to hire an outside consultant to review the operations of the Rancho Santa Fe Tennis Club and find ways to improve operations, a continuation of the board’s efforts to give a “full scrub” to every element of the Association as it aims for best practices.

The Association had planned to hire a national consulting firm to conduct a “SWOT” (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis of RSF Tennis Club operations and the board was set to approve the $7,200 expenditure at its June 2 meeting but that has been put on hold as there was some opposition from the RSF Tennis Club board about the process.

“We’re not directly opposed to a SWOT analysis but is there a conflict of interest involved in being analyzed by a firm whose job it is to staff and manage tennis clubs?” asked Barbara McClanahan, RSF Club board president. “Do they not have a vested interest to perhaps suggest they come in and do a better job for us, that the management isn’t what it should be?”

McClanahan said the RSF Tennis Club board was not involved in the process of selecting the group or providing input on the scope of the evaluation and several RSF Association board members found it best to wait and have the tennis club’s involvement in the selection of a consultant.

“It seems like this needs to be a collaborative effort in order to get the best result,” said outgoing Director Jerry Yahr, agreeing with McClanahan’s comments.

Outgoing Director Philip Wilkinson agreed that if there isn’t buy-in from the RSF Tennis Club, it could result in a lot of “ill will.”

RSF Tennis Club member Dick Chandler said that the analysis seemed to have the look of an “internal investigation” and questioned the purpose.

“The club is functioning better than any club I’ve ever been a part of. It’s really functioning beautifully,” Chandler said. “To me, this is crazy that we have to bring in outside investigators to tell us whether the club is functioning properly when all you have to do is ask the members.”

RSF Association Board President Ann Boon said the analysis came about after a lot of concerns were expressed about various issues in addition to the club’s desire to renew sponsored memberships. She said Acting Manager Don May suggested a consultant might be able to provide some input and some basis for the renewal of non-Covenant memberships.

RSF Association Director Mike Licosati noted that, additionally, two tennis board members resigned and one of them sent a “scathing” letter on his view of the operation of the tennis club.

Another letter questioned cash-transactions that are not accounted for, claims that pros make more money teaching non-Covenant residents than Covenant residents and a “very serious” personnel issue that showed a breakdown in best practices.

He said there were concerns around the sponsored memberships that non-resident members were handpicked by two board members rather than a broad opening.

“Letting non-Covenant members into our club is a very big threshold to cross and if we’re going to do that maybe we should put that to a community-wide vote,” Licosati said.

“From a board perspective sometimes we hear things from members of the tennis club that aren’t as satisfied as you are,” Director Heather Slosar said.

Slosar said they hear some concerns that 20 percent of RSF Tennis Club members are non-Covenant residents. McClanahan said that is not true and there are only 25 sponsor members. Slosar said there are more non-residents in different membership categories.

In regard to the selection of sponsored members, Chandler said they are trying to find tennis players that raise the level of tennis so members can find a good tennis game — it’s not about adding 20 “never-evers” who will not improve the level of activity of the club.

McClanahan said that an e-mail went out to all members of the club asking for recommendations on sponsored members, all had the opportunity to recommend people to come in.

McClanahan reiterated that she has always encouraged an Association board member to come to meetings and has encouraged an open dialogue between the two organizations.

Yahr said there was never an investigation intent to the SWOT, just an effort to improve operations. He said he hoped that improvements could be achieved by starting over with both organizations working together in a new, collaborative effort.