By Kristin Boza
The Beverly Hills Tennis Club (BHTC), a private social tennis club located at 9121 S. Hamilton Ave., is celebrating an incredible milestone this month: its 100th anniversary. The BHTC began in 1919 when a group of tennis-loving families came together to form it; a few years later, it was incorporated by the State of Illinois and became an official club. The current location is even as original as it gets, although the BHTC spent its first year at around 90th and Hamilton — since the area was mainly farmland, it’s not easy to pinpoint the exact location of that first tennis court.
Throughout the following decades, BHTC members continually made upgrades and improvements, making it one of the premier courts in Chicago. The BHTC even hosted the Chicago District Tennis Association tournament from the 1960s to 1990s. The BHTC originated in a membership model of single-person entry, but all that changed in the 1970s when the Tobin, Stanton and Frazel families asked if their families could join. Moving to include family membership started a tradition that continues to this day of Beverly/Morgan Park area families enjoying the sport and social aspects of the BHTC.
Joe Stoiber is the current president of the BHTC Board. As avid tennis players since childhood, Stoiber and his wife joined the club when they moved back to Beverly to start a family. “The club is very family-oriented, but also hosts various social events for adults, too,” he said. “We have one of the few clay courts in the Chicago area, which is a wonderful surface to play on, especially for anyone with joint challenges. Since we open at 6:30 a.m., early risers can get in a game before work; and we’re open until 10 p.m. thanks to the well-lit courts.”
Opening celebrations each spring coincide with the Kentucky Derby, and the club doesn’t close until the first snow of the winter; one year, they were open until Thanksgiving due to the mild weather.
Ladies Night is Tuesday, and Men’s Night is Thursday. Since the club is BYO, these nights are also great social events and patrons can cook food on the provided grill and share in a few drinks as they socialize between matches.
Many members say their favorite event of the year is the Woodie Tournament, when members can only play with wood rackets. “Tennis rackets have gone from the ‘Flintstones’ to ‘Star Wars’ in the last 15 to 20 years, and wooden rackets are basically obsolete now,” Stoiber said. “We brought the tradition back about 10 years ago, and it’s so fun because wood rackets are a lot less forgiving than the rackets we’re used to now.”
Stoiber points out that the BHTC is open to anyone who enjoys tennis. Prospective members are asked to get a recommendation from a current member.
“The BHTC is extremely affordable and it’s just a really fun place,” Stoiber said. “One of the perks is that we don’t charge court fees; there’s a small equity payment to get into the club, then members pay their dues annually.”
To celebrate the Centennial milestone, the BHTC is hosting a Block Party on Sat., Jun. 8 for current and former members and their guests. A pig roast feast will be featured, as well as bouncy houses, sno cones, ice cream, demos from tennis racket manufacturers and a performance by local band Cloud of Shame. And of course, the Centennial Tennis Tournament where the ages of the players on each team must add up to at least 100 years.
“The BHTC is open to anyone, even those who are beginner tennis players,” Stoiber said. “We offer private lessons to all members, but any new member is welcome to take part in a free lesson each Wednesday night; it is much more fun for everyone when you know how to play. We also offer summer lessons for kids that are open to non-members as well.”
To find out how to become a member, visit BeverlyHillsTennisClub.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.