John Wunder and Tara Peeples pose with novelty tennis gear at the Hopewell Valley Tennis and Swim Center’s newly renovated courts. (Staff photo by Diccon Hyatt.)
John Wunder and Tara Peeples pose with novelty tennis gear at the Hopewell Valley Tennis and Swim Center’s newly renovated courts. (Staff photo by Diccon Hyatt.)

Members can now play tennis like a champion and swim like a Navy Seal at Hopewell Tennis and Swim Center. Or, at least, they can feel like it.

Over the last year, the recreation club has rebuilt some of its facilities, resurfacing its six indoor tennis courts in the green-and-blue scheme of the U.S. Open, and lining its pool with a PVC material used by the Navy Seals training facilities.

“We’re really pleased with the pool. It’s cushy.” said Tara Peeples, who co-owns the facility with her stepfather John Wunder.

“After everything we’ve done here, it’s like a new facility,” Wunder said. “We called it a renaissance year.”

Despite new facilities, the recreation center still has the same family atmosphere it has had in the 10 years since Wunder bought the place. Wunder and his wife Kathy are always around, as is Peeples’ sister Marnie DeVries. Their kids can also be found there most days.

John, who has taught tennis for 29 years, runs the tennis program.

Then there are the employees, who are a close-knit group, if not family. Head tennis pro Mike Miller was a standout player at Ewing High School and played Townson State. Longtime managers include Rhonda Foy and Susan Barnada.

Some of the staff were there even before the Wunders bought the club. The facility was first built in 1972, as can be seen from an old-fashioned racquet embedded in the concrete just outside the front steps.

The facility is more than just a tennis club. Peeples said one of its more popular programs is its summer camps that run 11 weeks right up until the beginning of the school year. A Power Tennis Camp is aimed at kids who are serious about tennis training, and another includes tennis, but also mixes in volleyball, swimming and other activities. All of the kids get to cool down in the pool at lunchtime, no matter which camp they’re in.

There’s also a Future Tennis Stars camp for 4-6-year-olds to build tennis skills, Peeples said.

You don’t have to attend a camp to use the pool, however, or even buy a membership. The pool is available for rentals for parties, and non-members can join the center’s swim team and or take lessons.

But the center may be best known for its vibrant tennis programs taking place on its 12 courts, including private instruction, league play, and a massive pro shop.

Wunder and Peeples, who live in Bucks County, said the main thing that sets their center apart from other athletic clubs is the friendly atmosphere.

“We just try to be friendly and pleasant,” Peeples said. “We had a member that switched from one of the other local pools in the area, and they said they love out pool because when they walk in, they feel we’re excited to see them and happy that they’re there.”

Hopewell Valley Tennis and Swim Center is located at 111 Titus Mill Road. On the Web: hopewelltennis.com. Phone: (609) 737-3600.

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Diccon Hyatt is business editor of U.S. 1. He has worked for Community News since 2006 and was previously community editor of the Ewing Observer, the Hopewell Express, the Lawrence Gazette, and the Trenton Downtowner. From 2003 to 2006, he was a general assignment reporter for the Middletown Transcript in Middletown, Delaware. In 2002, he graduated from the University of Delaware, where he was features editor of the student newspaper, The Review. He has won numerous awards from the Maryland-Delaware D.C. Press Association and the Association of Free Community Newspapers for features, news, and opinion writing. He is married and lives in Marlton, NJ.