STAMFORD, Conn. — Aurelie Udall believes there are better days ahead for the Long Ridge Club's swim and tennis facility. "The potential of this place,'' says the club's director of tennis, "is amazing."
Udall, a Stamford resident who formerly worked at Intensity Fitness and Tennis in Norwalk, is part of a new management team at the 15-acre club on Long Ridge Road. When the group saw in May that Long Ridge was available, it made a bid and it was accepted. If everything proceeds smoothly, the sale will be completed next month.
The new team includes Jeff Gocke, who operates tennis clubs in Stamford, Darien, Norwalk and Fairfield, among others. Barb Cavaliere, who oversees operations at Shippan Racquet Club, will also oversee Long Ridge.
"We have a vision for Long Ridge,'' Cavaliere said. "It's a nice place for families, and it's affordable. It's a diamond in the rough."
Long Ridge had been managed by its club members. But membership dwindled from nearly 400 about six years ago to about 100. Part of the decline could be attributed to the economy. And some members left to join country clubs from waiting lists.
To attract new members, Long Ridge has created deals such as a 2-for-1 special for families and a tennis-only package. Gocke's Connecticut Tennis Group also manages the tennis courts at Oak Hills in Norwalk. This is its first swim and tennis facility. "It's different than Oak Hills,'' Cavaliere said. "This is so spacious. There are days at Oak Hills where you cannot park in the parking lot."
Among the improvements Cavaliere is considering is a structure over the tennis court that protects players from the elements yet gives the feel of playing outside. "It protects you from the sun and you can play in inclement weather,'' Cavaliere said. "We could have events like parties and bar mitzvahs. If it goes through, it could be a good place."
The club features nine tennis courts, and its large swimming pool has hosted the Fairfield County Swimming League championships. Under the guidance of coach Jim Bowser, Long Ridge divers won the league's diving team championship last year.
Udall, a native of France, helped develop strong USTA teams at Intensity. "I wanted to work outside,'' Udall said. "The sun makes me happy. I just couldn't work inside any more."
Cavaliere believes the membership numbers will bounce back. "We're in the rebuilding stages,'' she said. "I think in two or three years, we'll be back better than ever. I want people to feel like they come here for an overall good experience, where families can come and spend the day. We want them to come to a place that feels like it's a mini-vacation."
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