The Hop Brook Tennis Club - Our History

Back in 1945 when there about 5,000 residents in Simsbury, there were just 3 tennis courts in town, one beaten-up poorly tended court at the high school, a second owned by Ensign Bickford company president, Bob Darling, and a third owed by Mrs. Hendrick which was located on the southeast corner of Hop Meadow Street and West Street. The Hendrick court was the best of the three but rarely used except when Mrs. Hendrick had guests in the spring and was in residence.

At the time there were a surprising number of young and enthusiastic tennis players in town. They were invited to play at the Darling court now and then but wanted more court time than they could get this way. They asked one of the "town fathers," John Ellsworth, who knew Mrs. Hendrick, to arrange a meeting with her so they could offer to maintain her court in exchange for playing time. Mrs. Hendrick graciously agreed and suggested they use her pool…a nice dividend! Thus the group resolved to charge each person $5 dollars a season for supplies to maintain the court. They casually called themselves “The Hop Brook Tennis and Dunking Association.” The new association ended its first year with $38 left over after paying all expenses.

In 1954 the head of the “association,” Laurie Cathles, offered five acres of land on his property way up on Westledge Road as a permanent location for the club. But with no money to build a court, the “association” had to decline. However, the 1955 hurricane and flood changed everything. The hurricane’s deluge ruined Mrs. Hendrick’s court. That year, the group was invited to use the Westminster School’s new courts. At the 1956 annual meeting it was agreed that the “association” would accept the Cathles land offer and build a court. With only $250 in the treasury, annual dues were raised to $20 and bonds were issued at $60 for a single and $120 for a family. (The bonds were redeemable if and when the club ever had the money; they were all repaid years later).

After reviewing construction bids, the membership decided to build two clay courts itself. With great enthusiasm and much backbreaking work, construction was completed during the summer of 1956 at a cost of $4,632. That year, the club also incorporated and renamed itself “The Hop Brook Tennis Club Inc.” The beginning of the current clubhouse was the gift of a barn that was moved to the location in 1959 for the great sum of $371.

Paddle tennis was introduced in 1970 after some members learned that there was a paddle tennis court they could have for free if they would remove it from the grounds of the Connecticut General Insurance Company. Once again the membership organized into work parties to dismantle and build their new (paddle) court. One work party even worked in a snowstorm to get the project moving along fast enough to have an inaugural 1970 paddle season.

The original wooden paddle court was eventually demolished in 1990 and replaced in phases with the 2 modern, lighted, all-aluminum courts and warming hut that members now enjoy. The 1990s also saw the construction of the club's 3rd Har Tru® tennis court.

In 2007, modern new lights were installed over the two original tennis courts. The club moved into the digital age in 2010 with an easy-to-use on-line tennis and paddle court reservation system.