Cliff Drysdale opens local tennis school |

Cliff Drysdale opens local tennis school

Christopher Kamrani, Of the Record staff

Tennis icon Cliff Drysdale remembers the first time he laid eyes on the Park City area. He lent a helping hand by consulting when the Park City Racquet Club was originally constructed in the 1970s. He even owned a condo minutes away from the club.

Now, the 69-year-old Drysdale, who won 35 singles and 24 doubles titles during his professional tennis career, has brought a new tennis staple to the Wasatch Back.

Drysdale, along with the Red Ledges recreational community in Wasatch County, opened the Cliff Drysdale Tennis School last weekend. The school at Red Ledges joins 15 other Drysdale programs around the country.

"I don’t have to sell the area," Drysdale said Monday in a phone interview from Dallas, Texas. "In the summertime, which is my favorite time, there’s no nicer place than the mountains of Utah."

Drysdale, who also serves as an ESPN tennis commentator and has been with ESPN since the network launched its live tennis coverage in the late 1970s, lives in Miami, Fla., but is always on the move, looking to promote the game he loves.

"I like to think it’s the tennis equivalent of a Jack Nicklaus golf course," Drysdale said of his state-of-the-art tennis school at Red Ledges.

While the school will provide Red Ledges members with private lessons, group clinics and various community and international tournaments, Drysdale made it clear the school isn’t exclusive.

"We don’t zero in on any one particular group of people," he said. "My philosophy on tennis is: great competition, great fun and it’s a very helpful activity. It’s also a sport for a lifetime. You can start at 3 years old and play until you’re 93.

"Nothing pleases me more than when every tennis court that we manage is busy."

He added: "We will be available for outside lessons, ultimately looking to bring in outside groups of people around the country for purposes of play."

Of his 15 other schools around the country, Drysdale said one in particular reminds him of this new local school.

"We have one up in Stratton Mountain, Vt.," he said. "It’s a summer getaway. We’re hoping to accomplish the same thing out here."

Born and raised in South Africa, Drysdale transitioned successfully from pro tennis player to television broadcaster and now to promoter and tennis architect.

"My life has been blessed in a lot of ways," he said. "I’ve been carrying the banner for both broadcasting side and tennis programs and tennis pros."

Drysdale said he is on his way to France within the next week to watch the French Open and then will backtrack to England to see Wimbledon a couple weeks after that. He said tennis is enjoying a welcome resurgence and opening this school will only help locals become more involved in the sport.

In the meantime, he reiterated he will be a regular visitor to his school and to the area he "fell in love with years ago."

"I’m definitely going to come out to Utah a couple times a year," he said. "But mostly in the summertime."

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