1. The Club has a long history. What drew you to the location and what makes it one of the finest tennis and pickleball venues in the nation?
A: As I was searching for a new home for over 200 of my players, it was not only important that I find a location that could accommodate the size of my program but it was equally as important to me that I find a location with a strong sense of community. When I came across The Tennis Club at Newport Beach, I learned of its rich history as a tennis facility and I fell in love with the residents of Newport Beach. While the club was in major need of some TLC and had a declining membership of less than 100 individuals, I knew I could reinvigorate the club that was once deemed THE most prestigious tennis facility in Orange County while creating a place that the members and community would be proud of.
Since my acquisition of the club in 2014, we have modernized the facility with the addition of a new clubhouse, fully repaired and resurfaced courts, along with a rare European red clay court and a world class pickleball facility with 31 courts, customized fencing and premiere LED lighting. We continue to invest in the grounds to maintain the charm of the original club that the residents of Newport Beach reminisce of. My biggest personal accomplishment within this club is the creation of a facility where junior players can learn to love the sport. Young players that have the desire to play at the collegiate or professional level, have access to world class training that is imperative to reaching those goals.
2. Tennis has certainly changed over the years. But Pickleball, although not new, is gaining serious attention in the active community. What makes The Tennis and Pickleball Club at Newport Beach the go-to Pickleball destination in the Country?
A: Coming from tennis, I entered the pickleball world as a skeptic but I did my research and spoke to key people to understand the sport and it’s growth and with that I said we’ve gotta give this a shot! As I planned out the addition of pickleball to the club, it was important to me that it be done with the same vision and passion as I had when building the tennis facility, and I was determined to make it the best. Since the conversion of our first tennis court to pickleball courts, we have been continuously growing and improving our facility. We now have 31 dedicated pickleball courts and some multi-purpose courts which allows us to add courts for larger events. We have a world class stadium court where we have showcased the top tennis and Pickleball players in the world. Our Pickleball community is the most supportive and positive group of people I have had the pleasure of being around. I have visiting pros tell me all the time that our members make their trip to our facility so special.
Outside of the facility itself our location, right off of the PCH in Newport is home to premiere lodging, famous restaurants, unique activities and the most amazing weather in the world with an international airport less than 10 minutes away.
3. As a long-time tennis coach and the son of Hall of Fame tennis coach, Nick Bollettieri, you know the game of tennis like the back of your (back)hand. So, why pickleball!?
A: First, I have to say that I am honored and beyond grateful to have Nick in my life. I’m not his biological or his legally adopted son per say. But we have a father son relationship since I was a kid. I have called him my “father”, “dad”, and the supportive male figure I needed since I was a young boy. Even when my own father wasn’t supportive of my tennis ambitions, I always turned to Nick for love, support & guidance. What he has done for me personally, for the game of tennis, and the many athletes whose lives he touched, is nothing short of iconic. Nick to me and most, is a Legend— how he pumped talent and energy into tennis I can only hope to one day do for pickleball. If I can change people’s lives for the better, give them hope, lead them to success and reach their potential in this sport, I would love that. Many have said pickleball has saved their lives especially during the pandemic. Perhaps one day I can be part of that sentiment: to be known for helping people with their mental and physical well being through this wonderful game of pickleball.
4. You recently acquired the facility you’ve been leasing for some years in Coto de Caza. Tell us what members and visitors can expect.
A: The future of that project is also contingent on the future of the club in Newport. Therefore, at this time it would be premature to share what will be coming. Coto has been used for our UTR Tennis tournaments, and our members in Newport have a membership in Coto at no additional cost. What I can tell you is that it will be another world class club like Newport serving another great community.
I’ve had the honor over the last 7 years to work night and day to build our coveted club in Newport. It’s no exaggeration to say I put my heart and soul into making Newport an epicenter for many to come and enjoy. My children started as babies and are now young kids enjoying both sports of tennis & pickleball. I will replicate that same energy and work to make Coto a success, it is a dream come true for me. I am humbled and grateful for the opportunity.
5. Where do you think the future of SoCal tennis and pickleball is headed?
A: SoCal has been notorious in developing great athletes in all sports due to our great weather and dynamic sports facilities. Florida historically has always developed the most tennis professionals, yet California always had its share of champions such as Michael Cheng, Tracy Austen, Pete Sampras, and of course our Newport Beach native Lindsey Davenport.
Pickleball is an all-American sport and has yet to become international. Texas is the center of our nation, therefore Texas, specifically Dreamland Pickleball facility near Austin, is where a number of pickleball pros are training out of, and the second place is Florida. California has its share of players including our very own pickleball star Parris Todd who not only trained in tennis at our club since a junior, but also developed her professional pickleball career. I am thrilled to represent her as part of her management team and can’t see where the future takes her.
6. Tell us some of the perks The Tennis and Pickleball Club at Newport Beach members can enjoy.
A: The biggest perk of membership at our club is being exposed to the energy the community exudes. When I walk through the gates of the club each morning I see both tennis and pickleball members who are smiling, socializing, and exercising. When we have tournaments at the club I see our club supporting their fellow members and cheering the competition on as well. It makes me so proud to hear people say they love coming to our club because it is so positive. It doesn’t get any better than that!
7. You obviously had a distinct vision for what The Tennis Club at Newport Beach would look like and feel like. Tell us where you drew your inspiration from?
A: Thirty years ago, when I was barely an adult, I was given a chance to operate a small private tennis facility with a pro shop, fitness room, and pool. At that time my wish was to bring a Florida style full-service tennis academy to the west coast. Within the first few years I integrated and mixed a primarily adult private club setting with an academy concept, which became the first full-service tennis academy in the west coast. That led to opening multiple other private facilities with similar concepts, each of them being very different depending on the community and culture presented in that city. Newport Beach allowed me to once again integrate a high performance culture with a private club setting. I think we have done it better than anyone, but I will warn others that it is not easy. It takes a lot of organization, passion, and tenacity. This was all possible because of the inspiration and guidance that I got from the person who has been the father figure in my life, Nick Bollettieri.
8. What are some of your favorite memories over the past seven years of owning The Tennis and Pickleball Club at Newport Beach?
A: It has been 8 years! Without a doubt it would be the first day when I received the keys for the club. It gave me the opportunity to build something from scratch in the best city on the planet. Bringing Universal Tennis (UTR) tournaments to our club has allowed us to build the biggest virtual tennis club in the world serving thousands of youngsters and pros around the world who refer to our club being their home away from home. It has become their choice for finding great competition and being noticed by college coaches. Finally, growing our pickleball membership and community to what it is today.