Berkeley Landmarks :: Berkeley Tennis Club


Berkeley Tennis Club

2624 Hillegass Avenue, Berkeley, CA

Susan Cerny

First clubhouse, 2624 Hillegass Avenue (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2004)

20 October 2001

The Berkeley Tennis Club, located at 1 Tunnel Road, is tucked rather inconspicuously beneath the Claremont Hotel. Although both are officially in Oakland, the club was founded in Berkeley in 1906.

The original Berkeley Tennis Club was located at 2624 Hillegass Avenue and consisted of two simple rolled-earth tennis courts.

Photo: Daniella Thompson, 2004

Photo: Daniella Thompson, 2004

Two years later, a woodsy shingled clubhouse was erected next to the courts. The club was so popular that by 1909 there were five tennis courts and a membership of more than 150.

Although the original clubhouse was converted to a home after the club moved to its present location in 1917, the building retains most of its original charm.

The main social room is paneled with unpainted redwood and has a high-pitched ceiling. The large fireplace is constructed of clinker brick. This clubhouse was designed by Walter Ratcliff, Jr. and Alfred Henry Jacobs and is a city of Berkeley Landmark.

Photo: Kathie Berg
Photo: Kathie Berg
Photo: Kathie Berg

In 1917 the Berkeley Tennis Club moved to its present location on property leased from the Claremont Hotel, which opened in 1915. The architect of this sprawling building was Roland I. Stringham. Like the original clubhouse, the club's "new" building also contains a large social room with wood paneling, maple flooring and exposed truss work. A small stage at one end of the room was included for theatrical productions.

The club at 1 Tunnel Road (photo: BAHA archives)

Historically, the Berkeley Tennis Club is associated with William C. (“Pop”) Fuller, who served as an unofficial coach for the junior members for 26 years. Among his prot�g�s were Helen Wills Moody and Helen Jacobs, who both played at Wimbledon.

Jacobs was also selected twelve times to the Wightman Cup team. Hazel Hotchkiss (Wightman), who joined the Club in 1906, won 43 national championships and was elected to the National Lawn Tennis Hall of Fame. Maurice McLoughlin won the National Men’s Singles in 1912. Thomas Bundy was a Wimbledon finalist in 1913 and captain of the Davis Cup team in 1914. William M. Johnson won the National in 1915 and was also member of the Davis Cup team. The William M. Johnson award is given each year by the United States Lawn Tennis Association Hall of Fame.

Photo: Daniella Thompson, 2004

After the 1991 Firestorm, the Club provided shelter for 26 families.

This article was originally published in the Berkeley Daily Planet.


The Berkeley Tennis Club was designated a City of Berkeley Landmark on 15 May 1989.



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Text © 2001–2014 Susan Cerny. All rights reserved.