THE IN CROWD

STEEPED IN HIS­TORY AND STARCHED TEN­NIS WHITES, THE MAIN LINE’S MOST EX­CLU­SIVE MEM­BERS-ONLY CLUBS ARE AP­PEAL­ING TO A NEW ERA OF CLUB­GO­ERS WITH EX­CLU­SIVE EVENTS AND PRI­VATE DIN­ING.

Philadelphia Style - - Contents - BY MARNI MANKO

Steeped in his­tory, the Main Line’s most ex­clu­sive mem­bers-only clubs are ap­peal­ing to a new era of club­go­ers with ex­clu­sive events and pri­vate din­ing.

While much of the Main Line pack up their Range Rovers and head for the Shore quicker than you can say “At­lantic City Ex­press­way” come June, sum­mer is rife for ac­tion on the coun­try-club cir­cuit. Es­pe­cially since many of to­day’s sub­ur­ban clubs are mak­ing way for a whole new gen­er­a­tion of mem­bers.

For a bit of Wim­ble­don right in our own back­yard, the Ger­man­town Cricket Club (411 Man­heim St., 215-438-9900; ger­man­town cricket.org) and Philadel­phia Cricket Club (415 W. Wil­low Grove Ave., 215-247-6290; phi­lacricket.com) play host to the men’s USTA Na­tional Grass Court Cham­pi­onship Au­gust 19—28. Play­ers, such as two-time Grand Slam win­ner El­lis Ferreira and Wade Mcguire, hail from all over the nation.

Ger­man­town, one of the found­ing mem­bers of the United States Lawn Ten­nis As­so­ci­a­tion (USLTA), has a rich his­tory of host­ing cham­pi­onships (Bil­lie Jean King played on the sto­ried courts), and with its de­cid­edly in­clu­sive philoso­phies, non-mem­bers are wel­come to sit in a rock­ing chair un­der the great sycamore tree and watch up­wards of 10 matches go­ing on at the same time.

“Ten­nis started on grass, and al­though to­day it’s less preva­lent through­out the US, it pro­vides a chal­lenge for even the best top-ranked play­ers, which lends it­self to chal­leng­ing com­pe­ti­tion,” says tour­na­ment di­rec­tor Me­lanie Hit­tinger. “The tra­di­tions of the game come alive with tra­di­tional all­white cloth­ing, too,” says Jeanne Fields, head of the ten­nis com­mit­tee.

“TEN­NIS STARTED ON GRASS; IT PRO­VIDES A CHAL­LENGE FOR EVEN THE BEST TOPRANKED PLAY­ERS.” — me­lanie hit­tinger

Else­where, Cen­ter City club the Union League’s (140 S. Broad St., 215-5636500; union­league.org) ac­qui­si­tion of the Guard House (342 Righters Mill Road, Glad­wyne, 215-5636500; union­league.com) restau­rant was a smart move, giv­ing the League’s roughly 800 mem­bers who live on the Main Line some­place to call home, close to home.

“The re­sponse has been won­der­ful,” says Union League Gen­eral Man­ager Jeff Mcfad­den. “The Guard House, dat­ing back to 1790, was the per­fect ad­di­tion to our ameni­ties and we look for­ward to main­tain­ing the his­toric charm of this iconic es­tab­lish­ment as The Union League Guard House.”

Both Me­rion Cricket Club (325 Mont­gomery Ave., Haver­ford, 610-642-5800; meri­on­cricket.com) and the Cyn­wyd Club (332 Trevor Lane, Bala Cyn­wyd, 610-6674524; cyn­wyd­club.com) are cre­at­ing waves within the mem­ber­ship and neigh­bor­ing com­mu­ni­ties, with the ad­di­tion of, gasp!, pools.

With mem­ber­ship wan­ing for both tra­di­tion­ally old­school clubs, these Main Line in­sti­tu­tions are go­ing to great lengths to make them­selves more ap­peal­ing to the crit­i­cal younger fam­ily mem­ber­ship, caus­ing rifts within the mem­ber­ship in the process. Me­rion, a Na­tional His­toric Land­mark, has com­pro­mised and is de­mol­ish­ing just seven neigh­bor­ing homes to make room for im­prove­ments, while agree­ing to keep four de­signed by renowned ar­chi­tect Wal­ter Durham.

The Cyn­wyd Club has plans for an early July de­but of the much-con­tested ad­di­tion. “The pool is def­i­nitely a game changer for the club,” says Shane Cole­man, Cyn­wyd Club gen­eral man­ager. “There are not a lot of pub­lic swim­ming op­por­tu­ni­ties in this part of the town­ship and we are see­ing a lot of in­ter­est from fam­i­lies with chil­dren of all ages.”

Any way you slice--or lob--it, clubs on the Main Line are abuzz this sum­mer.

Ten­nis whites, ev­ery­one! Ger­man­town Cricket Club (be­low) was one of the found­ing mem­bers of the United States Lawn Ten­nis As­so­ci­a­tion.

The Me­rion Cricket Club and the Cyn­wyd Club are both open­ing swim­ming pools.

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