Article By: Paul Long
Photos By: Josh Triggs
The Stonebrook Club, which bills itself as “The leading racquet sports club in the Shenandoah Valley,” as undergone several significant changes since it first opened in 1973. And it wouldn’t be difficult to find someone who could explain the differences to you.
Several of Stonebrook’s approximately 300 members have been there since the beginning, and through the years, they have been joined by their children and, more recently, their grandchildren to create a unique family atmosphere at the club, located approximately three miles west of Winchester.
“It’s just amazing how many longtime members we have,” said club manager Bambi Beringer. “And they’re just phenomenal people. They’re just so kind. And they’ve watched each other’s kids grow up. So now, not only do you have them in their golden years, but their children have played and their grandchildren are here playing.
“We’re very laid-back,” Beringer continued. “Most likely every member here, not only do we know their names, but we know their children, their grandchildren. It’s a very close group of people.”
The club is currently owned by Partlow Insurance of Winchester. The agency purchased Stonebrook two years ago and has already made numerous improvements to the facility.
“They’ve done a great deal,” Beringer said. “They did new flooring on the tennis courts, more cushioned flooring to make it easier on joints for all four of the indoor courts. The outdoor courts were resurfaced, new lights were put on Courts 3 and 4; they’ve done a great deal of maintenance in terms of the lounge…landscaping, the pro shop—they’ve done a great deal the past two years.”
Under Partlow’s ownership, Beringer said, Stonebrook has been able to complete numerous upgrades on which the previous ownership had fallen behind.
“They’ve put a great deal of money and effort into the facility so it has more to offer its members,” she said. “When Partlow purchased the club, they were willing to put in the financial commitment so that all of those capital improvements were made.”
With the population of Winchester and Frederick County increasing in recent years, the club’s membership has continued to grow. “As people keep moving into the area, it keeps increasing all the time,” Beringer said.
Stonebrook was a very different facility when it first opened in 1973. At that time, it consisted of two indoor tennis courts as well as racquetball facilities, since racquetball was more popular at that time than it is today. Nonetheless, said Beringer, there is still a group of men that comes into the club on a regular basis and remain committed to racquetball.
According to Beringer, Stonebrook is one of the only facilities in the region with racquetball courts as well as indoor tennis courts. As a result, it has become a popular destination for high school tennis players looking for a place to play during the winter months.
Players from Berkeley Springs and Martinsburg, W.Va., are regular visitors to Stonebrook, along with quite a few from the Shenandoah Valley. “We have people who travel within the hour to be here,” she said.
Stonebrook is located on a secluded lane just off Jones Road between Cedar Creek Grade and Middle Road.
“We are off the beaten path a little bit,” Beringer said. “If you didn’t know we were here, or you didn’t enjoy the game of tennis, you might not (find us easily). Because we’re a quiet, members-only, laid-back kind of facility.”
Several Stonebrook members come to the club just to swim in its pool, which, according to Beringer, is quiet even when it’s busy. On a typical summer day, she said, as many as 100 people might be in the pool or poolside at any given time.
Members also enjoy the perks of special events, including a cookout at the beginning of the season and another one at the end. On the Fourth of July, Beringer said, a barbeque chef shows up to prepare pulled pork.
For the kids, Stonebrook offers occasional late-night swims and even a raft night. The pool stays open after dark, and treats like cotton candy and ice cream sundaes are available.
Once the pool closes for the season, Stonebrook is a lot less hectic, though the club’s indoor tennis leagues for adults ensure that members keep coming even during the winter months. Men’s, women’s and mixed leagues are scheduled throughout the week, and instructional academies for teens are held on Wednesday and Friday nights.
The club’s director of tennis, Brian Clarke, played at both the high school and collegiate levels. Several of the high school players who have trained at Stonebrook went on to play in the college ranks and, Beringer said, “She believes at least one eventually turned pro.”
But there’s more to Stonebrook than just tennis and swimming. Beringer said the club also has a weight room and Nautilus equipment and a sauna, and offers fitness classes, yoga and pilates. A personal trainer is available for anyone looking to set up an individual fitness program.
Stonebrook also provides spaces for dance and karate classes, which are taught by independent instructors who are not affiliated with the club.
The original barn from 1973 is now a conference center with hardwood floors that is available to be rented for private events like bridal showers and baby showers. The facility can hold up to 100 people, Beringer said.
Earlier this year, during the annual Shenandoah Valley Apple Blossom Festival, Stonebrook hosted a tennis tournament over the course of two days.
“It was wonderful,” said Beringer. “It turned out really, really well.”
The club tries to hold tournaments every three to four months, including an annual women’s tournament around Christmas.
Stonebrook normally has about 25 employees; however, that number usually doubles during the summer months with the addition of lifeguards and people who are needed to run the snack bar.
Like many of Stonebrook’s members, Beringer has grown attached to the club through the years.
“I guess, because I’ve been here for so long, I have a really soft spot for it,” Beringer said. “We’ve got a really kind group of people and great members. They care about each other, they watch out for each other.”
According to Beringer, tennis is a sport that inspires a long-term commitment.
“The great thing about tennis is you learn it at an early age,” she said. “So you have the three- and four-year-old kids just starting. Some are playing into their late 80s; some have reached their 90th birthday. So you can literally play tennis your entire life.”
The price structure for Stonebrook club memberships is based upon the number of activities in which a member participates. Some have fitness-only memberships; others have fitness plus pool, or just pool. A tennis membership also includes access to the gym. For those who want it all, the club offers a tennis deluxe package.
Stonebrook waives its initiation fee for new members residing in the surrounding neighborhood and offers a corporate rate for those in the health care and teaching professions. Government employees also receive a special rate.
The club has four indoor tennis courts and five outdoor courts, two of which have lights, and four racquetball courts. It even offers racquet-stringing services for both members and non-members.
The Stonebrook Club is located at 2342 Jones Road, Winchester. It is open Monday through Thursday from 6 a.m. until 10 p.m., Friday from 6 a.m. until 9 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. For more information, call 540-662-7546.