The inhabitants of 1023 Park Street stand outside their home in matching white robes and slippers. They’re holding antique tennis rackets—props that give away their shared interest.
Known to some as Tennis House, the residents have officially dubbed their abode the Country Club. The team said they chose the name because they wanted to evoke a sense of prestige and sportsmanship—a sort of elegance within the Grinnell College community. As they sat and spoke about the stories and quirks that the Country Club has developed already, it became clear that while the name is regal, the inhabitants of the house are affable and silly and love to have a good time.
Inside the house, it becomes even clearer that these guys play tennis. There are antique tennis racquets mounted on the walls, posters from various tennis equipment makers and, less explicably, a giant American flag mounted on a wall in the living room.
The Country Club has been an exciting home since move-in, when the team nearly burned down their place. A tiki torch that the house members had placed outside for their open house caught on fire. One of the house members attempted to ground it, but the oil fell out, causing the fire to become bigger. After some attempts to stop the fire with pots and pans filled with water from the kitchen, somebody grabbed the fire extinguisher. The group was thankful that, though their house was open for NSO, no first-years were around to witness this fire fiasco.
The house is chock full of tennis players: Victor Golden ’13, Daniel Nellis ’13, Ryan Hautzinger ’15, Aaron Lapkin ’15, Rob Storrick ’15, Conor Cunningham ’15, John “La” Gernon ’15, Elliot Czarnecki ’15 and Emilio Gomez ’15. The house is also home to a bat in the basement.
The story behind the bat is simple. Someone left the basement door open and it flew around the living room while the team was watching a movie. The group spent 20 minutes attempting to coax the bat downstairs. Although he still resides in their basement, they are attempting to get rid of him.
The Country Club was founded last year, right before the deadline for project house applications. Most of the team was considering rooming together the next year and quickly decided that they would apply to have their own house.
What can students expect from the Country Club? Some Saturdays, the team hosts tennis lessons for the public and to students, which they offered in their application as a service to the community. Another tradition is the annual party “Erotic Deception,” which features a drink recipe that has been handed down from captain to captain. In the near future, the house plans on having a White Party, similar to Wimbledon.
The team also has some tennis traditions. Before each meet, every player gets the opportunity to submit one song for a playlist that will be played during their warm-up, and while they stretch, the team shouts a chant.
One of goals of the house is that the older players will serve as mentors for the younger players. Golden and Nellis, both seniors, took on this role for the eight sophomores who inhabit the Country Club.
“One of the focal points of the house [is] being able to have older people around who are at the tail-end of college,” Nellis said. “A few of these guys in this group might end up being a captain within a year or two. Being able to mentor them is a really nice part of the house.”
After the interview, the residents donned the matching white robes that a housemate thoughtfully bought from Mall of America, grabbed some of the antique tennis racquets from the walls and un-wrapped cigars to pretend to smoke. As they line up to pose for a picture in front of the house that nearly burned down, it is clear that this quirky house has style to share.