The Westchester neighborhood in Bakersfield is known for old homes, in fact it’s one of the oldest neighborhoods in Kern County. In the middle of that, one of the best gems of the sports community in our town, the Bakersfield Racquet Club it's been been around since 1947…
Mark Fredrick’s joined the club three years ago as the pro. "We’re just a nice neighborhood club, our membership has just been booming lately, we are close to 500 members now," said Fredrick's. "It’s been fun, we’ve been having a pro tennis tournament here, lot's of junior events and now we have pickle ball."
Exciting things happening at the tennis club, that for a long time had the reputation of being a best kept secret. "We just put up some wind screens, and we had to take them off and we had so many people drive by, and say we didn’t know there was a tennis club here," Fredrick's said.
The club that so many people are still discovering will celebrate 70-years in 2017. Coming a long way from where it began.
During the 1930’a, the club was actually located at Jastro park. The club’s founder Lake Lovelace had the idea to open a member-owned and operated tennis club.
The founding members, including Don Simpson came up with a new way to build the tennis courts at the club, move that set the Bakersfield Racquet Club up for success in the future.
”He designed these courts, and they are concrete stressed. You didn’t really have those back in the day, you had asphalt courts so when he designed these, there are a lot less maintenance involved, and they play really well.”
The courts designed so well they have weather many decades without having to be replaced, something that has saved the club a lot of money over the years.
And over the years, many big names playing on these courts. There were the locals who went pro. Jack Lynch, Sally Moore and Dennis Ralston, who was #1 in the world at one time. Dennis Ralston playing alongside local great Hank Pfister, who later become one of the Racquet Club’s pro’s.
Even world famous tennis players have made stops through the Bakersfield racquet club most notably, world champion Pete Samaras. And that notoriety has kept the racquet club in the forefront of the national tennis spotlight.
It’s what has allowed Mark Fredrick's to bring one of the best pro tournaments to Bakersfield for the past three years.
"When I first arrived here I wanted to try and have a pro event, or a large event and let people know we are here in Bakersfield and that we exist," said Fredrick's. "We applied to be part of the tournament back in 2013, and the USTA came in, took a look at the club and fell in love with the place.”
And what’s not to love. The club going beyond tennis, now offering Pickle ball. ”It's played with a flat paddle, and a waffle ball," Fredrick's explained. It’s a fun little sport, it's quick and there’s a lot of tactics involved so it’s for every level.”
And then there’s the club’s two Olympic size pools. Next to it a large banquet room, available to the public as a rental space.
To round it off the restaurant.
"It’s an opportunity for people to come in here and relax enjoy a nice meal, a nice cold drink and watch from tennis from right inside," said Fredrick's.
Match Point Grill is open from Monday through Saturday to the public, not just members.
A neighborhood tennis club buzzing with activity in the heart of downtown...and it all began right here in Kern County