OPA hosts meeting with Racquet Sports membership 

Tim McMullen to take on part-time amenity management role 

General Manager John Viola and Operations Director Colby Phillips address several dozen members of the Racquet Sports amenity during a Nov. 18 meeting.

Operations Director Colby Phillips on Monday led an informational meeting with Racquet Sports membership on upcoming programs and initiatives.  

Phillips, who has overseen the department for several years, said she meets regularly with leadership from the tennis, platform tennis and pickleball clubs that make up the amenity’s membership. 

“I’ve built a really good relationship there, where they fill me in on their requests and their concerns,” she said. “One of the hopes that I had [for the department] … was a little more growth happening at the Racquet Sports center, especially in the tennis community.” 

Phillips said several of last year’s 50th anniversary celebrations highlighted the Manklin Meadows Racquet Sports Complex that houses courts for all three sports. 

“We had quite a few events go on, and it was really nice to see all of the people there and what a fabulous place it is,” she said.  

To further encourage growth, Phillips said Racquet Sports would see a few changes next year. She said Terry Underkoffler would stay on as the tennis pro, with Tim McMullen coming on, part-time, as a facility manager.  

Tim’s going to be involved in each sport, working to establish great communication links, as well as working with Terry on your growth … and on bringing in more events,” she said.  

McMullen has owned property in Ocean Pines since 1974 and said during that time the racquet center has seen four different homes.  

Tim McMullen on Nov. 18 announces he will help manager Ocean Pines’ Racquet Sports facility.

“I remember playing tennis there on [Route] 589 and thinking, ‘Why would they build courts here?’” he said with a laugh. The center later moved to the Swim and Racquet Club and then to Mumford’s Landing, before finally settling at Manklin Creek Road.  

“My mission is to make sure we have the best racquet facility on the Eastern Shore,” McMullen said. “And I know of no other place where we can play platform, pickleball and tennis at the same location.” 

Among his other goals, McMullen said, is to “alleviate some of Colby’s workload.” He said members with questions and concerns were welcome to approach him.  

“Let me know what the problem is and then I will work … to get it solved as quickly as possible,” he said.  

“I really believe in what we’re doing here. It’s the best place to live and I love this place, so we’re going to do everything we can to give you the facility you deserve,” McMullen added. 

Underkoffler, who also coaches at Worcester Preparatory School, outlined his plans to increase tournament play at the center with help from the United States Tennis Association. 

Ocean Pines Tennis Pro Terry Underkoffler on Nov. 18 discusses plans for several new tennis tournaments.

“They love the site [and] they think it has a lot of potential,” he said. “We want to have the site sustain itself, so we felt that if we could develop a partnership with USTA Mid-Atlantic, they could send some tournaments our way. We are a destination area already.”  

Potentially, that includes a national ranking tournament in the spring or summer, and a “consolation tournament” related to national team play.  

Additionally, Underkoffler has plans to offer more classes and lessons, with a “stroke of the day” clinic for members, video analysis of players’ technique, and increased youth clinics.  

Phillips said the proposed fiscal 2020-2021 budget would include replacing the bocce courts at White Horse Park and moving them to the Racquet Sports center, in the grassy area near the platform tennis courts. She cautioned that putting an item in the proposed budget does not necessarily mean it will be funded 

“It all depends on how that process goes,” she said.  

Phillips also answered questions from the crowd. One woman asked why there is not more indoor playing time in the community center gym, especially during the afternoon when the room seems empty.  

A large crowd attends a Nov. 18 informational meeting on Ocean Pines Racquet Sports.

Recreation and Parks Program Supervisor Debbie Donahue, making a cameo appearance, said the gym reserves certain times for drop-in basketball (for a fee), especially during the colder months when playing outside isn’t practical.  

“In order for there to be time in the gym for other people to do other things, we leave the gym open for that drop-in time,” she said. “We have basketball that goes on in there a couple of days a week, for kids after school and for adults, anybody that wants to use the gym.” 

General Manager John Viola asked Donahue if she had adequate space to meet the demand for programs.  

“Is this something that’s restraining us from everything that we want to do?” he asked.  

“Honestly, as we look at the programs that we’ve done  we outgrew the building before it was ever finished,” she said. “For all of the growth that we have made, all of the programs that we still get challenged to bring in, the revenue that we’re challenged to bring in … we are limited on the space that we can offer. It’s one gym and that’s all I have to work with.” 

Viola thanked the membership for coming to the third in an ongoing series of amenity-related meetings, which previously highlighted Golf and the Pine’eer Craft Club.  

“Thank you, everybody, for coming,” he said. “This type of constructive feedback is very important for me, and I believe it’s also very important for my team,” he said. 

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