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STREET LEVEL

A new spin on a throwback era

July 01, 2007|Matthew DeBord

LINGERING fans of the 1970s tennis boom have an opportunity to experience a vanishing scene at the new Arroyo Seco Racquet Club, just off the 110 Freeway in South Pasadena.

Several of the courts at the complex, constructed in 1976, have been converted from Carter administration green and red to contemporary blue and green. It's a clear sign that change is in the air -- even if a faint whiff of catgut and disco remains.

As far as the junior tennis players gathered on a Thursday afternoon in early summer are concerned, the change couldn't have come soon enough. They're indifferent to the groovy Bjorn Borg vibe the facility might have showcased 30 years ago -- and, in places, continues to exhibit today. "We have lots of fun here," said 11-year-old Erin McDonald, a plucky tween taking part in the club's summer junior program. A Wii-enabled widescreen TV probably helps.

Founded as the Racquet Center of South Pasadena, the Arroyo Seco Racquet Club is the vision of John Letts, a former national junior champion who played at Stanford with Patrick McEnroe.

"My goal is to get it buzzing," Letts said. The new "U.S. Open blue" courts are definitely a step in the right direction. "I knew that four of the courts had to be fixed up," he said. "So I figured, why shouldn't the members and the juniors be able to play on the same surface as the pros?" The pros of the 21st century, that is.

-- Matthew DeBord

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