Rancho Santa Fe Tennis Club: a place of fitness and fun for nearly half a century

RANCHO SANTA FE — Any day is a beautiful day at the Rancho Santa Fe Tennis Club. Just walking inside leaves the rest of the world outside. At just about any time of day you will see people outside playing tennis on the immaculate courts, shopping in the pro shop or lounging in the lobby awaiting their tennis partners.
“It’s a pretty active club, any time you go out there you’ll see quite a bit of play,” said Dophie Poiset, a tennis professional who teaches children and women at the club.
The beautiful Clubhouse was built in 1992. Bill Hinchy and Suzy Schaefer spearheaded the project and Norm Applebaum was the award-winning architect, Poiset said.
The club was founded around 1962 by a group of people including Hollywood film producer John Robertson and his wife Jo.
“It started out with a small membership and a couple of families,” she said. At first there were only two courts. As the club expanded, it did so by two courts at a time.
“Now we have 12 courts,” she said. “There are two clay courts and 10 hard courts.”
“The ladies come in the morning at about 8 or 8:30 a.m.,” Poiset said.
Some of the foursomes have been playing regularly for more than 20 years.
“If one of them can’t make the regular game, they find someone to substitute for them,” she said.
She said many of the women play in leagues four mornings a week that will be starting again in September.
Among the women are several types of players. There are those who played as children or in high school and want to take up the sport again because the kids are in school. Then there are the fresh players who are just taking up tennis. All may take advantage of clinics and private lessons.
The men come in at about noon, Poiset said.
“They just show up and play, and mix with each other from four all the way up to 12 men, who come and play until about 3 p.m.,” she said.
“They have been doing that for as long as I have been here,” said Poiset, who has been a tennis professional at the club for the past 26 years.
The men have also have a Sunday league.
Because Rancho Santa Fe has a policy that protects the views of the night skies, the tennis club has no lights.
Poiset is currently in the middle of tennis summer camp where between six and 20 youngsters, depending on who is on vacation, come to learn the basics of the game.
The children also come in the afternoon for the after school program. They range in age from 5 to 18.
“They come in at about 2:30 p.m. and go until dark,” she said.
The professionals at the club are truly professional. Poiset herself was a nationally ranked junior player.
“When you are nationally ranked you have to decide whether to go on the pro tour or go to college. I decided to go to college,” she said. She earned her degree and became a schoolteacher for two years, before returning to her tennis roots and began teaching the sport.
Pro Derek Miller who works with the men and juniors played tennis at Purdue and was a national college standout. Also on staff of the tennis club is pro James Conda, who has played and worked with tennis greats Andre Agassi and Anna Kournikova.
The tennis club is also a social experience with events each month for the members like luncheons and parties.
Lessons are open to members and nonmembers.
To learn more about the Rancho Santa Fe Tennis Club, call (858) 756-4459.

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