ALGONQUIN – Forty years ago, The Racket Club was started by a group of Crystal Lake businessmen and tennis enthusiasts.
The men – Walt Herrick Sr., Nick Carter, Steve Morgan, Jack Thomas and Chuck Schunk – bought land in Algonquin and began laying plans for the area’s first indoor tennis club.
The club, at 9101 S. Route 31, prospered through a so-called tennis boom in the 1970s, but in 1981, the partners decided to sell the club because, although profitable, they couldn’t devote time to the business, club manager Rob Laue said.
The Crystal Lake Park District bought the club and still maintains the integrity of a quality tennis community that the five men envisioned 40 years ago.
Today, the once carpet-surfaced courts have given way to a U.S. Open blue-and-green cushioned hard court, and five more courts were added to the original four. In total, the club has 16 indoor and outdoor courts, including three sought-after outdoor clay courts.
Going from a four-court club to nine indoors “is really growing by leaps and bounds,” Laue said.
“A nine-court club really offers much more flexibility.”
The Racket Club has about 1,110 accounts and an estimated 1,500 players – high numbers in a sport that since the upswing in the 1970s fell off into relative obscurity. The club’s players are dedicated, Laue said.
“[Tennis is] not up there the way basketball and football are, but it definitely has a core following,” he said. “I’d call it a cult sport.”
Although owned by the Park District, the club is a membership-supported, with memberships ranging from $40 a month for families to $8.50 for seniors.
It offers leagues and lessons with the club’s 15 certified tennis professionals, plus a variety of activities year round, including growing programs for children. The pro shop is stocked with rackets and clothing and offers expert stringing and racket repair.
For information on the club, call 847-658-5688 or visit www.theracketclub.org.