Est. 1973 – Bellingham Indoor Racquet Club
… 1980’s & 90’s – Fairhaven Club
… May 2000 – Bellingham Tennis Club & Fairhaven Fitness
Long before tennis came to Bellingham, another sport was popular in Fairhaven. The current site of the club formerly housed a bordello! It was merely one of several in the early, tough days of pioneer Fairhaven.
By 1973 the site of the Bellingham Tennis Club was a vacant lot owned by two brothers, Vincent and Brantley Davis. They happened to chat with avid tennis player and promoter Bob Chronister, who owned a grocery store in Fairhaven, about how to develop the lot. After their own research and encouragement from local tennis enthusiasts, they were ultimately convinced to build an indoor tennis facility. The original building was to hold four indoor courts with a lobby, member lounge, and locker rooms. They hit a serious snag during construction when the morning after all the building framework was installed, all of the steel girders had fallen over like dominos. After assessing the damage, it was discovered that someone had removed all of the nuts and bolts holding the girders in place. No one was arrested, but fingers pointed toward a labor dispute during construction. The “Bellingham Indoor Racquet Club” finally opened its doors on December 16, 1973.
Throughout the years, the Club has been owned by several groups:
1973 – 1986: Owned by the Davis brothers
1982 – 1986: Owned by the Davis brothers, managed by Parc Athletic
1986 – Mid 1990s: Owned by Rick Dvorak, Gary Nelson, and Jon Allsop
Mid 1990’s – 2000: Rick Dvorak bought out partners Nelson and Allsop
May 1, 2000 – Present: Owned and operated by Doug & Robin Robertson
One of the first things that Doug and Robin accomplished was to add the 5th tennis court by expanding the west wall of the building in the summer of 2001. This made all the difference in the world for offering courts to Members while allowing enough court space to also create a strong junior tennis program through tennis clinics and lessons. It took three years to rebuild the club’s reputation and build our membership. This was accomplished through by hiring great staff, developing high quality programs, and cleaning up the facility. The Robertsons continue to invest in the Club with new equipment, programs, and facility upgrades.
Doug and Robin were married in 1988 but had met a dozen years before while working at a restaurant during their high school years in the Seattle area. It’s a long story, but they can commend a mutual friend for helping them finally get together. They have two children and say their daughter, Elena, and son, Foster, are growing up much too fast.
Doug graduated from Willamette Law School with his undergraduate degree in economics from Lewis and Clark College. He has practiced law since 1986 and is a partner in the firm of Belcher, Swanson Law Firm. Robin is a graduate of Huxley College at Western Washington University with a degree in Environmental Science. She worked for many years as a waste reduction and recycling planner, specializing in “dumpster diving” – a rotten term for specializing in waste composition analysis. This is where Robin conducted studies across the nation for cities, states, and even Disney World to figure out what could be recycled out of the stuff being thrown away. In 1990, Doug and Robin both left their jobs to travel by bicycle for nearly a year through New Zealand, Australia, Southeast Asia, and Europe. It was during these travels that they decided to make their new home in Bellingham.
How & Why the Robertsons Bought the Club
The Robertsons moved to Bellingham in 1991. One of the first things Doug did was join the tennis club; tennis has always been a joy in his life.
In the late 1990s, Doug represented an individual who wanted to buy the club; the deal fell through for a variety of reasons, but Doug had a tickle in the back of his mind about the possible sale of the club and what that meant for the future of indoor tennis.
Seeing an impending tennis crisis and real estate investment opportunity, the Robertsons finalized the deal to buy the club on May 1, 2000. Not only was it a good investment in land, but they wanted to preserve and re-establish tennis in our community. They both knew if this tennis club disappeared, that would be the end of indoor tennis. Robin agreed to manage the club while Doug kept his “day job” to pay the bills.
Doug and Robin are life long fitness enthusiasts, so operating a tennis and fitness club meshed well with their philosophy. Doug started playing tennis with his dad when he was in elementary school and continued to play competitively through high school and college. Doug also runs, cycles, and weight trains. Robin started running when she little – mostly to keep away from her brothers – and kept running for cross-country and track through high school and college. Because of a bad knee (now counting six surgeries on her left knee alone) she’s never played tennis and in 1986 had to trade in her running shoes for cycling. She continues to compete on a variety of levels.
Both Doug and Robin understand and believe in the physical, mental, and social benefits of exercise throughout life and want to share that passion with all of our club members and community. They truly believe in the club’s motto: “Getting fit, playing hard, and enjoying life!”