Tennis players, swimmers and employees alike gathered at Twin Arbors Tennis Club on Cochran Road Friday morning for an all-day pot luck to celebrate their time at the club, which is closing its doors after approximately 40 years in Lodi.
“It meant the world to so many people,” former employee Kim Heath said. “The community will miss it so much. It was the social hub for a lot of people and when you see that ending, it’s so sad.”
Although Twin Arbors’ other two Lodi locations — Twin Arbors Athletic Club, a swim club on South Hutchins Street, and Fitness Works on West Lockeford Street — were both purchased by independent buyers who plan to keep the facilities as athletic clubs, no such buyer came forward to purchase the tennis club.
Joy Miller, who managed the tennis club for 20 years, said she believes competition from other gyms contributed to the decision to close the Twin Arbors locations.
“Too many of these $10-a-month memberships come in and people are going to jump on it,” Miller said.
“It’s hurting tennis people big time because there really is no other facility in town for tennis.”
The club on Cochran Road was also home to the Lodi Dolphins swim team, Miller said, and the location for the City of Lodi’s swim meets.
“Now, they’ll have to find someplace else,” Miller said.
Nora Olsen, who was a member for at least 20 years, remembered taking her daughter — who played on the Lodi High School tennis team — to lessons, team practices and matches at the club.
“It was a safe, friendly place for our family to go cool off in the summer, almost like our neighborhood park,” Olsen said. “If the City of Lodi doesn’t have recreational opportunities and only wants to build housing, what do they have to attract people to the community?”
Jeanne Kitchen, a swimmer and club member for 30 years, said the club’s pool was a place for her to escape from her problems for an hour every day.
“There’s about 20 of us regulars, and this is the only pool we ever swam in,” Kitchen said. “I’m going to miss everyone, a lot of people are going to other gyms. They’re going to lose a lot of tennis players, too. It’s a sad day for us here, but here we are celebrating.”
Jill Kelsey taught tennis at the club for 26 years, she said, and coached the Lodi High tennis teams.
“It was a wonderful experience,” Kelsey said. “My two kids were raised on these tennis courts and became college players. I don’t think there’s anyone in Lodi I haven’t taught. This is a very sad day.”
Joe Woelfel, a tennis player who was a member off and on for 15 years, said he particularly enjoyed the competition and fellowship he found at the club, both on the courts and off.
“It was really a fun place to come to, and to come back to,” Woelfel said. “We’ll miss our Twin Arbors Tennis Club, and we hope the City of Lodi will consider beginning youth tennis and tennis for all ages.”
Kelly Geist, Twin Arbors’ marketing director of 27 years, said the club saw her through some of the hardest parts of her life — including the loss of several family members — but also provided her with a challenging, rewarding career.
“It always kept me on my toes, it definitely was a fulfilling job,” Geist said. “I will miss my members, my work family and I wish them all the best.”
Geist also bid a bittersweet farewell to Dennis Kaufman, who retired after 30 years as Twin Arbors’ manager.
“It was a pleasure working with him,” Geist said. “We made a great team.”
“It’s been my pleasure all these years,” Kaufman said in an email sent by Geist to the News-Sentinel. “I got to know Lodi and have come to care for my employees, members and Lodi community. Although it’s bittersweet, I’m looking forward to retirement.”