Over the Decades
Like all things that enrich over time, the Los Angeles Tennis Club began as a love story and a shared passion for tennis between Thomas Bundy and May Sutton. May was the first American to win the Wimbledon Singles title at the age of 17. She was determined not to marry a man who could not beat her in tennis. Multiple national doubles and singles champion Thomas Clark Bundy met her challenge, and they were married in 1912. In 1920 with the help of oil man and developer G. Allan Hancock, an option was taken on 5 ½ acres of land south of the “cowpath” Melrose Avenue. On October 27, 1920, a group of 27 men met at the Merchants and National Bank in downtown Los Angeles to incorporate the Los Angeles Tennis Club. Thomas Bundy was elected the Club’s first president.
Ten courts were constructed in 1924 by combining 70 pounds of Irish potatoes with concrete to ensure a smooth, hard surface with a “velvety” finish. With the addition of seven more courts in 1927, LATC became the largest hardcourt tennis club in the world.
The decades that followed were the things that dreams are made of. The LATC became the west coast center for all things tennis…and Hollywood. Tennis legends Ellsworth Vines, Fred Perry, and Don Budge were on the courts as Marlene Dietrich, Clark Gable, Carole Lombard, and Errol Flynn filled the box seats. A young Mickey Rooney was found more than once sneaking into the Club by climbing the wall on Cahuenga. The best of tennis and the best of Hollywood had found a new home: the Los Angeles Tennis Club.
Until the early 1980’s, the Pacific Southwest Tournament was a mainstay at the LATC. Jack Kramer, Billie Jean King, Stan Smith, Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Rosie Casals, are just some of the headliners who played before sold out crowds of tennis enthusiasts. A 9-year-old Venus Williams was able to win the annual Youth vs. Experience tournament, sponsored by LATC for many years. If you knew tennis, you knew the Los Angeles Tennis Club. Jack Kramer, winner of 10 major titles (including victories at Wimbledon and the Davis Cup) displayed only one trophy in his home: The Pacific Southwest Championship trophy.
In 2017, the LATC was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in a ceremony on Center Court attended by Rod Laver, Stan Smith, Tracy Austin, Todd Martin, Michael Chang, and other legends of the game.
After more than 100 years of operation, the LATC remains a sought-after, vibrant gathering place. Members and guests feel welcomed when they enter the Club’s living room which is ringed by portraits of tennis greats who played and were victorious on the revered Center Court. As the second century of the LATC begins, much of the Club’s atmosphere remains similar to the beginning days when members first gathered at the U-shaped grill and red-leather booths, nonchalantly finding themselves sitting next to a Hollywood star or rising tennis great. While the germination of all planted ideas is uncertain, Thomas and May Sutton Bundy laid a certain foundation for a Club which will have its own stories to tell in the coming Century.