Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.

Los Angeles Tennis Club Taps Zach Gilbert as Tennis Director

LATC General Manager Layosh Toth with Zach Gilbert, LATC’s new Director of Tennis, and LATC Teaching Pros Godwin Omuta and Melissa Nguyen.

The Los Angeles Tennis Club recently announced that Zachary Gilbert, a sixth generation Californian from a prominent tennis family, will become the club’s Director of Tennis.  Gilbert’s selection is a significant addition to the storied club’s professional tennis staff.  Once considered the birthplace of tennis in the west, and host of the famed Pacific Southwest Tennis Tournament, LATC has tapped Gilbert to help direct the club’s tennis program into the next century.

Last October, LATC celebrated its centennial with members toasting the club’s 100 year history on Zoom, without the usual fanfare. As they were for so many of us in 2020, plans for more extensive centennial festivities were thrown out the window by the COVID-19 pandemic. But turning the page on its storied past as a place where the very best high level amateur tennis was played, the club is now looking forward to establishing a new place in the game for the next 100 years.

“2020 was obviously an unexpectedly challenging year,” said Michele Weiss, president of the LATC Board. “We had planned multiple events to celebrate LATC’s 100th anniversary, and instead we wound up having to close for a couple of months for the very first time in our 100 year history.”

Looking ahead, Weiss and her fellow board members see Gilbert’s hire as an opportunity build on the 100 years of memories that have made the LATC such a special place. Jerome Peri, head tennis pro since 1994, is excited to have Gilbert on staff. He told us that Gilbert has the personality and temperament to manage the diverse interests and abilities of members at the club.

“LATC is an amazing platform with amazing history,” Gilbert told the Buzz. “As director of the club’s tennis program, I am excited to look back on the history and draw inspiration from the events and programs that established the club as an important place for high level tennis.”

1929 Membership brochure for the proposed Los Angeles Tennis Club. By 1927 there were 17 courts including center court and a stadium along with a Spanish style clubhouse built in 1923.


The Los Angeles Tennis Club at 5851 Clinton Street in Hancock Park was founded in 1920 by amateur tennis players as a place for year around tennis. At that time, the best tennis players in the world were all amateurs, affluent enough (or sponsored) to play simply for the love of the game. All the major tournaments were for amateurs only, if a player got paid they couldn’t compete. But that would all change in the late 1960s when the game allowed players to receive a salary, ushering in the “Open Era” of tennis and the sport as we know it today.


The first Pacific Southwest Tournament in 1927. Image from History and Heritage fo the Los Angeles Tennis Club 1920-1995 written by club member and historian Patricia Henry Yeomans who was a talented tennis player as well. (Click to see full size image)

In a recent article on, Tennis Channel historian Joe Drucker shares the story of the club’s founding:

“Once upon a time, American tennis was strongly feudalistic. Across various cities, grand tennis castles served as epicenters of the sport’s competitive culture. These included Boston’s Longwood Cricket Club, which hosted the U.S. Doubles championship from the 1930s until 1967, and New York’s West Side Tennis Club, in Forest Hills, home of the U.S. Nationals (later US Open) until the end of 1977.

Located in Hancock Park, an upscale neighborhood seven miles west of downtown Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Tennis Club opened in 1920. Its first president was Thomas Bundy, a three-time winner of the U.S. doubles championship. Bundy’s wife, May Sutton, had been the first American to win Wimbledon when she’d taken the singles in 1905. Their daughter Dorothy, later known to the world as “Dodo” Cheney, went on to win the singles at the 1938 Australian Championships, earn a record 394 USTA national age group titles, and join her parents in the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2004.

Such prominent lineage commenced the greatest royal procession from a single club the sport has ever seen. By the 1930s, a steady stream of future Hall of Famers made the LATC their base of operations, Wimbledon and U.S. singles champions Ellsworth Vines, Bobby Riggs, Jack Kramer and Ted Schroeder among the notables surfacing in that decade. Bill Tilden, world No. 1 for most of the 1920s, relocated to Los Angeles and played frequently at the LATC, as did Don Budge in the 1940s. Soon after came Pancho Gonzales.

The nation’s premier college team, the University of Southern California, practiced and played at the LATC, in the 1950s and 1960s spawning four more Hall of Famers: Alex Olmedo, Rafael Osuna, Dennis Ralston and Stan Smith.

The LATC also hosted the Pacific Southwest Championships, an event often considered the second-most important tournament in the country. Kramer once told me that it was harder to win the “Southwest” than Wimbledon.

For most of the 20th century, if you were any kind of ambitious player, you needed to come to terms with the LATC, largely by competing at its many prestigious events and also vying with its deep roster of skilled players.”


The last Pacific Southwest Tournament took place at the club in 1975. The name was changed to the ARCO Tournament and was played at the Pauley Pavilion at UCLA in 1978. The $200,000 prize went to Arthur Ashe, who won his first Pacific Southwest title at LATC in 1963, according to LATC historian Patricia Henry Yeomans’ 1995 book on the club’s history. No longer the center of the tennis universe in the west, LATC continued to host significant matches, including Southern California United State Tennis Association events for juniors that featured the likes of Tracy Austin, and Serena and Venus Williams.


LATC’s stadium court during a Pacific Southwest Tournament circa 1940


Gilbert told us he is honored to follow in the footsteps of tennis greats like Perry T. Jones, who was hired in 1925 to run the Southern California Tennis Association from the LATC, and who dominated the sport in the west. At one time, so the story goes, standings established at the Pacific Southwest Tournament were used to set the draws for Wimbledon. But Jones’s kingmaker style reflected an era when white men dominated the sport, and only reluctantly admitted blacks and women to the table. Gilbert, who grew up in the sport, represents a new generation of professionals. He said he’s excited about the challenge of working with players at all levels and encouraging a deep affection for the game that doesn’t necessarily rely on playing competitively.

As a player, Gilbert was a four-year member of the Cal men’s tennis team, with the squad reaching an NCAA team ranking of number 5 his senior season. Before that, Gilbert spent more than a year training at the prestigious IMG Bollettieri Academy in Bradenton, Florida. Growing up in the Bay Area, Gilbert also achieved USTA junior rankings of number 1 in Northern California and number 15 nationally.

Gilbert’s father, Brad Gilbert, played professionally, rising to the rank of number four in the world in 1990. Brad Gilbert is recognized as an expert on mastering the mental side of the game. He also coached players Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick, and Andy Murray. Currently he provides court side commentary for ESPN and the Tennis Channel.  And throughout his father’s career, Zach had a courtside seat to watch the highest-level professionals in the game.

After graduating from Berkeley, Zach Gilbert traveled as a coach on the pro circuit, guiding a former teammate to a top 500 ATP ranking. He comes to the club with extensive tennis experience as a player, coach, and media professional where, he was ccontributed to ESPN’s tennis production team for several years, providing stats and information to commentators at the Grand Slams and other major events throughout the tennis calendar.

Zach and his father Brad, who was ranked as high as number four in the world during his professional playing days, now co-host a popular podcast called “Winning Uglier,” which expands upon Brad’s best-selling book “Winning Ugly,” and helps players gain a mental edge over their competition.

Zach Gilbert told the Buzz that he loves the history of the LATC and the game. He wrote a college term paper on Pancho Gonzales.  As a youngster, he spent his formative years around Andre Agassi, and says he’s been inspired by Agassi’s Las Vegas-based foundation’s philanthropic work in the sport, something he hopes he can bring to LATC, in addition to his tennis acumen.

An LA resident of the past four years, Gilbert now lives within walking distance of the club. He said he loves the location and hopes he can connect the club to the greater tennis community and support efforts to bring tennis to more kids. Unlike his predecessors in the early days of the sport, Gilbert isn’t trying to build champions. Instead, he says he’d like to instill an appreciation for the game, recognizing that competitive play is not for everyone.

“I love this sport and being on the courts,” said Gilbert. “It’s a sport you can play your whole life. If I can help facilitate more people playing and enjoying this sport for years, that would be very satisfying.”


Pacific Southwest Tournament, circa 1950s. Australian players Ken Rosewall and Lew Hoad defeated Swedish players Sven Davidson and Lennart Bergelin (best known later as Bjorn Borg’s coach). Rosewall and Hoad won the PSW Men’s Doubles title in 1953, 1954, and 1956. Photo from the LATC archives.



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Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard is the publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.

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