How It All Began!
- by Judie Jacoby, Club Founder
In the early 70's, Janet Balbutin - a local pharmacist and avid tennis player - organized a group of young moms and taught us all to play tennis at Sam Brannen Park. Once "bitten" by the tennis bug, I couldn't get enough of it, nor could my friends. Soon we were desperate for courts to play on because Sam Brannen Park's four courts were inadequate and Rancho Cortez, a private six-court "neighborhood" club, had a closed membership with a long waiting list.
For those who know me, I am a "fixer" and just had to solve this problem. So I contacted Jim Wilson, a builder who had constructed Rancho Cortez, Chico Racquet Club, and Auburn Racquet Club. He was in the midst of completing the Turlock Racquet Club, where he was offering something innovative: the first racquetball courts in tennis clubs in Northern California. Though skeptical about the need for a second tennis club in our town, he encouraged me to gather supporters. He quickly became convinced when, at our first gathering, 50 people each handed me a check for $50 for the possible new club.
I selected the 9 ½ acre parcel that we now occupy primarily because it was close to my home and had a neighborhood feel to it. The original club consisted of 10 lighted tennis courts, 4 racquetball courts (with cement floors), an outdoor pool and jacuzzi (then considered state-of-the-art), and the clubhouse, which is now the front portion of the Club. Jim later sold half of the acreage (darn!) to private developers who built the Shiloh Residences, which partially surround us.
We opened the tennis courts in August of 1975. When the building and racquetball courts were completed, we held our official grand opening in January of 1976. Within the month we closed our membership as we had 350 families supporting the Club, and that was the number of members we felt we could handle and not have crowded courts.
The Club was sold around 1980 as Jim was building his sixth, seventh, and eighth clubs. The new owner, a respected doctor in Yuba City, was just what we needed as interest in tennis was waning and the exercise revolution was beginning to emerge. Dr. Toller became very interested in exercise as it related to health because the data was fast emerging that people who exercise regularly and eat healthy meals tend to feel better, sleep better and live longer, healthier lives. Together we were able to create the dream club we delight in today.
The first year of our Multi-Sport Club was quite challenging as many of our die-hard tennis and racquetball members were quite repelled by the gym crowd and expressed their dissatisfaction in no uncertain terms. But before long they, too, had joined in the exercise revolution and were frequently expressing their pleasure at not having to join another club to work out. When members from surrounding clubs would visit for a tennis match, they would let our members know how much they envied the facility and wished they had the same opportunity at their home club. Today we proudly tour out-of-towners from all over the country and they marvel at our facility. I know I feel proud and pleased.
In April of 1987, we purchased Rancho Cortez Swim & Racquet Club from the members. The club was in great need of repairs and refurbishing, which has been a continual challenge since its purchase. To date we have replaced, re-lighted and enlarged all six tennis courts, reopened the children's wading pool, re-plastered the diving and lap pools, installed a massive sprinkler system, and remodeled the club house. Rancho has been a nice addition as an annex for tennis activities and junior tennis camps and a wonderful family hangout all summer long with its lovely lawns and picnic areas.
With the decline of racquetball and the increased need for fitness space, we converted two of our four racquetball courts into two floors (3,200 sq. feet) of state-of-the-art free weights and weight machines. In addition, we added a Pilates Studio and cycling center and glassed in our group exercise floor.
We also added several amenities to our main facility, including Physical Therapy, the Club Café, and the wonderful Kids Club next door. We also have "Kids Time," a fully licensed after-school day care at Rancho Cortez and YCRC.
Many members ask me how we got started and how I came to run the Club, so I decided to write down the history. In late 1999, I promoted Pete Bakis, my former assistant, to CEO so I could retire, try to improve my tennis game (my original intention upon building the Club years ago) and enjoy my life more fully. Pete and the gifted directors and staff of YCRC embraced the opportunity to take YCRC into the 21st century with energy and enthusiasm. Many of the original staff have continued on to serve the members of our wonderful club.
Please continue to share your suggestions and comments regarding the Club as the best is yet to come!