Tradition, history and love lobs La Jolla at doubles championships

The game of tennis, perhaps more than any other sport, is largely about tradition and history. Local fans seeking the best the game has to offer in those departments need look no further than the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club.

Starting March 2, the club will host the United States Tennis Association Pacific Coast Men’s Doubles Championships, an event that has been held at the club since 1890 and has seen many of the game’s great sportsmen and great characters.

The 118th playing of the event will be held March 2 to 4, with the finals scheduled for March 4 at approximately 1 p.m. Admission and parking are free for fans. Club president Bill Kellogg said he expected crowds of up to 250 people per day during the event.

“This is definitely one of my favorite events that we put on,” Kellogg said. “It is rare that a tournament focuses entirely on doubles and that you can get so close to the action. You’re seeing just some amazing tennis. When people play doubles together for a few days, they just keep getting better and better, so by the day of the finals, it really is just about professional-level doubles.”

Sixty-five teams will participate in the double-elimination tournament. Once teams lose a match, they’ll be relegated to the consolation bracket. Those who continue to win will advance toward the championship match, playing two matches each day.

“It’s a very unusual tournament because it puts college teams against local pros and amateurs,” Kellogg said. “Usually, tournaments will be either just a college event or an open amateur event. This is a highly unusual format, but what we find is that, by involving the college teams in the tournament, we can ensure we’re going to have a very strong draw, a very high level of play. It puts the tournament up there on a level where you can really say it is the Pacific coast championship. These are some of the best teams in California.”

Among the college teams expected to compete are UCLA, USC, Cal, Stanford, Rice, Texas A & M, St. Joseph’s, San Diego State, UC Santa Barbara and Fresno State. Pepperdine has been a participant in the past but pulled out this year due to a scheduling conflict with exams.

“The winners of this event tend to be the champions of tomorrow,” Kellogg said.

The field for this event includes some highly recognizable names in the world of tennis. The top four seeded teams are Haythem Abid and Chris Surapol; Peter Smith and Ryan Redondo; Dejan Cvetkovic and Andrew Piotrowski; and Robert Fareh and Kaes Van’t Hof.

Others include the pairing of Jason Evans and Paul Settles, and Steve Adamson playing with Simon Shen. These players only add to the list of big names who have visited the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club.

A virtual who’s-who of tennis stars have graced the club’s courts since 1935. In 1942, the club brought its first major tournament to town, the Pacific Coast Men’s Doubles Championship, which served as the inspiration for the Davis Cup many years later. The original East Coast vs. West Coast tournament was first held in 1890 and was such a success that a match between the United States and England ensued at the urging of Dwight D. Davis, after whom the Davis Cup is named. By 1904, other countries had joined in the fray, and the Davis Cup was born.

A long list of the sport’s stars has served and volleyed at the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club, including Jack Kramer, Ted Schroeder, Pancho Segura, Pancho Gonzales, Bobby Riggs, Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe and Arthur Ashe.

The club hosts a handful of major events each year, providing both its members and other residents of La Jolla and the surrounding areas an outlet for top-level tennis. Most recently, the club hosted the first round of the Davis Cup matches last February, when the U.S. defeated Romania. The club also hosts the United States Tennis Association National Senior Women’s Hard Court Championships each May and the USTA National 40 Hard Court Championship each December.

The club is located on 14 acres of land abutting the Pacific Ocean. It is open to resident and non-resident members, and also offers accommodations for out-of-town visitors. In addition to its 14 tennis courts, the club also boasts a nine-hole par-3 golf course, two swimming pools, two oceanfront restaurants and one of Southern California’s only private beaches. The club is located at 2000 Spindrift Road in La Jolla Shores.