You know Los Angeles for its movie stars and basketball teams, the Santa Monica Pier and Venice Beach, and even its traffic and smog. You may not have heard about the tennis scene in Tinseltown, but you can be sure that the second most populous city in the United States has a lot of players. Plus the area’s subtropical climate and fitness culture gets a lot of residents outside and moving. Either join the thousands of people in the Los Angeles Tennis Group on Meetup, get involved with the USTA Southern California Section or book a lesson with one of our more than 70 tennis instructors in Los Angeles and the surrounding areas.
For 86 years, the City of Angels was a prominent stop on the men’s professional tennis tour, with great players ranging from Bill Tilden to Sam Querrey taking home the Los Angeles Open title. Founded in 1927 and moved to Colombia, South America, in 2013, the tournament was known by seven different names and played in three different venues during the duration of its existence. Most recently the tournament was known as the Farmer’s Classic and played at the LA Tennis Center, home of the UCLA Bruins. When the tournament departed LA, former director Bob Kramer told KPCC radio that “The markets globally have been stronger than the ones domestically and the events have flowed to those stronger markets,” a change he said was due, in part, to there being fewer strong American professional players. Luckily, Southern California is still boosting the presence of professional tennis in the states with the BNP Paribas Open, a top ATP and WTA event in Indian Wells. Hundreds of thousands have flocked to the city two hours east of LA to watch the world’s best compete in the fourth-biggest permanent tennis stadium on the planet.
Hailing from the Port
Two former world no. 1’s are LA natives — Pancho Gonzales and Bobby Riggs.
Gonzales holds the record for most consecutive years at the no. 1 spot, holding the position from 1952 to 1960. His 1969 Wimbledon match against Charlie Pasarell was so long that it prompted a push for tie breakers, which had been introduced to the tennis world just four years earlier, but not often used. After losing the first two sets, Gonzales came back to win three straight, saving seven match points in the process. Only a true Angeleno has that kind of grit!
Bobby Riggs may be best known as the guy from the Battle of the Sexes, a series of matches in which professional male tennis players played against professional female tennis players. Riggs played Margaret Court in a 1973 matchup, dropping just three games to win in two sets. But later that year, he faced Billie Jean King in a nationally televised best-of-five sets match and lost 6-4, 6-3, 6-3. Despite being devastated after the defeat, no hard feelings remained between the two players as King said in her HBO documentary that shortly before Riggs passed away she told him, “I love you.”
Los Angeles has an excellent selection of public courts. Here are some of the best.
Yelp: “Nice FREE courts in LA… are you kidding?!? They’re great.”
Queen Anne Park
Yelp: “Tennis courts are big and spacious!”
Yelp: “This place is one of the more enjoyable parks I’ve played at in my life, simply because of the scenery – Of the two levels of courts, I suggest taking the very brief hike uphill to level two. It’s a bit more secluded and less people will hear you scream when you get attacked by a wolf or a mountain lion, but it’s worth the risk.”