History of the Racquet Club

Historical Outline of the Peninsula Point Racquet Club

 

For me it all started 50 years ago when the late Dorothy and Bob Beauchamp moved into their house on the bay front on the east 2000 block of the Balboa Peninsula. As a new neighbor, I saw an opportunity and went over to their door and knocked. A pretty lady with a big smile answered. I introduced myself and asked if she was aware that they had a whole vacant tennis court going to waste. She laughed and called her husband. After a few moments, a tanned, good-looking man with reading glasses perched on the end of his nose, shook hands with me and asked: “You own a racket?”  “I do.” I said. “Go get it,” he said with a grin.

We started playing singles which quickly led into Saturday morning doubles by rotating a few other men from the neighborhood who actually played the game. Before long, there were more people hanging on the chain link fence asking to play. The Beauchamps had to turn down most requests and were looking for an answer when the adjacent court (also built in the 1930’s), became available in an estate sale. Dorothy and Bob bought it and asked the City of Newport Beach for permission to start a two-court tennis club. The City fathers approved with the condition that the Beauchamps needed to plant screening shrubs around the courts. I still remember Bob coming home from work at the end of the day, watering the fledgling plants in his shirtsleeves. They also built a small clubhouse between the courts where the Oleander bushes once grew. Next, the classy club name was decided on and an emblem was needed so I designed the crowned seahorse over crossed rackets logo still in use today. We were in business!

Dorothy pitched in by being manager, bookkeeper and hostess. Her job was to recruit new members. She had figured out that the membership limit would be around seventy-five. Not wanting to be left out, we original players signed up on the spot. We shouldn’t have worried, because at the end of the first month there was a total of only five new members. Undaunted, Dorothy began a personal campaign and literally pulled candidates in off the street. She had the wonderful gift of remembering people’s names, no matter how short the visit. She remembered them weeks later and when they came back, she greeted them by their first names and added that winning smile. What could they do but sign up? It didn’t take long before we had a full compliment of members and you had to schedule court time far in advance.

In those very early days, Dorothy did it all. When the courts needed sweeping off, she did it. She didn’t have to do it, but she wanted to. Her dedication to the task prompted embarrassed members to grab brooms and help. She loved the Racquet Club and encouraged her children (Bob, Dick, David, Bev and Dee-Dee) to play and welcomed the young moms of the area to bring their kids to learn. Over the years, many of those children played for Newport Harbor High and some still live in the area and play, along with their children. Dorothy also started the Monday and Friday ladies’ bridge group which provides the Point with a source of “breaking” local news.”

And, throughout the years, the club fielded women’s tennis league teams, and annual tournaments such as the mixed-doubles Trash Can event featuring the prized trash can trophies. We also put on some zany costume tournaments. The Club brought together a diversity of tennis-playing residents from all walks of life who became friends and joined in to take their families on many of the club-sponsored outings to the Shadow Mountain Club in Palm Desert, Smoke Tree Ranch in Palm Springs, Avalon, the Catalina Isthmus and others for many memorable weekends. And, of course, the Tourists-Go-Home party was held in September. That was one get-together you never wanted to miss.

Over the years, the Club grew steadily thanks mainly to the Beauchamps who created an atmosphere of what I call, “a benevolent kingdom,” presided over by kind and giving owners, skilled teaching pros: (Lou, Margie, Kevin, etc.) and a lot of others (Char, Nina, Jessica, etc.) who managed it. Today, I’m happy to report that the tradition is carried on by son, David Beauchamp and his wife, Tracy. For me, it’s hard to believe that the Peninsula Point Racquet Club has been in existence for 44 years where we, our children, their children and our grandchildren learned and continue to play. It certainly was our luck to have such a gem located right in the middle of our neighborhood.

That’s how I remember it.

Ralph Bernard

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