La Jolla Tennis Club hires ‘equipment nerd’ as new manager
Jon Ross is the club’s fourth manager in the past two years.
Despite his years of playing, new La Jolla Tennis Club manager Jon Ross is looking forward to stepping off the court and into the clubhouse.
The self-proclaimed “equipment nerd” started in his new post March 6. He is the fourth manager the club has had in the past two years.
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“I compare my love of equipment to those that love cars,” Ross said. “There are different brands, models, trims. The same thing goes for rackets. They each have their own lines within the brand; some help with more spin, others have more speed. I can tell you the weight of a racket depending on the brand.
“Knowing the equipment is important so when they have something wrong with the racket, someone is here to look at it. I also know the members here are customers of the shop and like to talk rackets, so it’s information that can be helpful or build relationships with members.”
During his first week on the job, Ross brought a stringing machine to the clubhouse for members to use. “Members have said they want to have one onsite and are excited to have it,” he said.
Ross, who worked at the Racket Stringing Workshop down the street and at other tennis-related shops in San Diego, has been a member of the La Jolla Tennis Club for years. When the opportunity arose to take his expertise there, he welcomed the chance.
“The club is a great place. You can’t play for a cheaper rate anywhere else,” Ross said. “I’m excited to be here. I’ve been really happy since I started. I’m not exhausted when I get home. This is a breath of fresh air. Because I have been a member and competed, I know what it’s like to be on their side of the equation and can help the members.”
The first thing he wants to do is organize the clubhouse and its inventory, he said.
“I want to look at what’s in the shop compared to what we need so we can order products more seamlessly,” he said. “I like to step in and take care of things. I’ve come in and seen some things that need to be cleaned up, so I will take care of it.”
Ross was hired as the club manager after former manager Mike Van Zutphen resigned so he could teach elsewhere, according to board President Alex Brown.
Van Zutphen had been hired in May last year after the board, which is responsible for running the club as a nonprofit service to the city of San Diego on city-owned courts at 7632 Draper Ave., spent $20,000 to use South Carolina-based McMahon Careers in a nationwide search for a new manager. In gathering member feedback, there was debate as to whether managers also should provide coaching services.
In addition to sticker shock over the expenditure, some members said allowing the manager to teach would unfairly compete with instructors who rent courts to offer private lessons. Given that the board had terminated the contracts of some coaches in May 2021, some said bringing in someone who would teach in addition to managing the club would “raise some issues.”
Others said local coaches who are already familiar with the courts would make ideal manager candidates.
Unlike past managers who also were coaches, Ross said he has no interest in teaching. But like past managers, he enjoys court time when he can get it after work.
“I started playing tennis at 7 years old, when I moved to a neighborhood with a tennis club,” he said. “After playing for a few months, a neighbor noticed I had potential, so I trained and played tennis for Rancho Bernardo High School. I was part of the team when it was the eighth-best in the nation. ... Because high school was tennis, tennis, tennis, when it came to college, I decided I had given my life to the sport, so I quit tennis for a while so I could be a normal student.
“When the pandemic hit, I picked up a racket again because it was a socially distant sport and I got right back into it.”
La Jolla Tennis Club’s recent stream of managers started when Scott Farr declined a pay cut and left in April 2021 after 15 years. Soon after, the board hired Vic Kramitz to manage the club. However, Kramitz’s contract was terminated at the end of 2021 after the board learned he “was paying himself overtime while also taking nearly a full day off work a week,” according to Brown.
Kramitz declined to comment at the time about the reasons for his departure.
For more information about the La Jolla Tennis Club, visit ljtc.org. ◆