WESTOVER — When you think of tennis, there are certain implications or stereotypes that come with the sport and a few words that come to mind may be Wimbledon, prestige or country club. The origins of the game are steeped in royalty which include such historical figures as Louis X and Henry VIII, who were said to be active enthusiasts of games that evolved into what we know as tennis today.
Although these days, tennis has become more appealing to the common man, it still carries a nuance of privilege compared to other American sports. That is unless you step through the doors of the West View Tennis Center.
Located in Westover, off Fairmont Road, owner Steve Munro has created an atmosphere that caters to wannabes, has-beens and everything in between and of any age. It’s a place where new members can leave their inhibitions at the door and your average Joe can enjoy the game of tennis that’s served with a side of community.
“The T-shirt we have here, our motto is, ‘We’re all about the people,” Munro said. “We’re not the fanciest tennis club, but were very much about family. People come and get to know one another and really get to come together and socialize, aside from playing tennis.”
One of the featured perks of the club that makes it such a welcoming atmosphere is the food. That’s right, the food. On any given week, Steve’s wife, Linda, prepares a spread that features soups, sandwiches, cheese, fruit and desserts to help cultivate the sense of community Steve and his staff wish to portray.
“This is for people to enjoy as much as it is for them to be able to sit and talk to each other,” he said. “Many times they develop times that they’d like to play tennis together, so it really does a lot of promoting for us.”
Now, enough about food. The real appeal to the tennis club, at least during the winter months, is bobble heads. Yes, again, I said bobble heads. First food, now bobble heads? Stick with me, I promise this is about tennis.
Over the years, the community Munro developed has had a big draw from his Bobble Head League. This is a creative concoction Munro masterminded based on limited resources and the ever-changing schedules of his members where the winners at the end of the league receive … you guessed it, bobble heads.
“Everyone is assigned to a team and everyone has a choice to play four times throughout the day,” he said. “And really you play whenever is most convenient for you, but you represent your team. We set it all up through email and texting. It’s on a week-to-week basis if and when you can play, so it allows flexibility for anyone involved.”
The competition runs from September to March and is featured as a doubles league. The grand prize at the end has ran the gauntlet from pro football bobble heads to, my personal favorite, Founding Fathers bobble heads. As Munro put it, “Everyone gets a trophy, but I figured no one gets a bobble head and it’s something they can keep at home or take to their office.”
I caught a few league members after they finished their weekly round and they had nothing but great things to say about what Munro has offered.
“This league has been a lot of fun and there’s also a clinic offered on Sunday’s that helps build you up and improve your skills,” Jena Patterson of Morgantown said. “It a great social environment. There’s great food, nice people and a chance to play tennis.”
John Loth and Camille Charlier, who originally are from Holland and France but reside in Morgantown, agreed with Patterson that the club has offered a great chance to get to know other tennis aficionados.
“In some clubs, you just play and leave, but here you get a good mix of people you can get to know one a other and can play with a different group every week,” Loth said.
“I’ve been involved in the league for 2 months and I love it,” Charlier said. “It’s not always easy to find random people to play tennis with in Morgantown, so this is nice and Steve does all the work really. He makes it easy.”
On top of the tennis, the club also features the rising sport of Pickleball, which is similar to tennis, but has a smaller court, a paddle instead of a racket and a Wiffle Ball replaces the tennis ball. And more importantly, as Munro explained to me, you don’t need to be as athletic to play. With four brand new courts, Munro says demand for Pickleball is rising and there’s always a line for people to get involved.