Tucked away in the rolling hills of Westlake Village, North Ranch Country Club is well known for its beautiful homes and challenging golf courses. Many are surprised to learn the Club is also home to one of the top-rated tennis facilities in Southern California.
The 12 lighted, all-weather tennis courts are anchored by a separate clubhouse for its members. Family-oriented in design, the tennis program offers a year-round schedule of activities for its membership and others in the community.
For the past four years, Jeff Miller, director of tennis, has led the North Ranch tennis program, which has evolved into a first-class facility that accommodates every level of play for all age groups. Members of the North Ranch “family,” as they are called, enjoy weekly tennis drills with staff pros, singles and doubles leagues, programs for the junior players, and special events throughout the year.
Jeff notes, “Our new members generally join our tennis program as a family, so we make sure we have lots of family activities that they can enjoy together. We have family socials, mixers, tournaments, pickleball, and even add in some golf once a quarter to take greater advantage of the amazing North Ranch facilities.”
A native of Southern California, Jeff grew up in Santa Monica, playing tennis at California State University at Los Angeles before going on to compete professionally on the ATP Tour for several years and earning a world ranking. Jeff has also earned an MBA from Pepperdine University in Malibu, a rare achievement for tennis professionals, but something he believes helps him better manage the tennis program.
Prior to his arrival at North Ranch, Jeff served as the tennis pro at Brentwood Country Club. He was recruited by North Ranch to revive its lagging tennis program, which has flourished under his leadership, re-establishing itself as one of Southern California’s best tennis programs.
“When I first came here, I listened to the Club members and saw a need to rebuild the program from the ground up, focusing on creating a strong youth program,” says Jeff. “My expectation was, if the kids play and have a good time, the parents will join in. Back in the day, North Ranch was the top program in the area for junior tennis. I wanted to get back to that.”
Jeff sees some of the adult members, who may have played in high school or college, getting back into the game after a layoff of 20 years or so. He says they have also had parents who have never been exposed to the sport wanting to engage their children on the courts and join in on the fun.
Jeff’s inspirational approach to the game of tennis is paying off, as he and his staff create a positive experience so that everyone may learn and appreciate the sport, regardless of their level of play.
“We want to present an enjoyable, competitive, tennis experience and still maintain a family atmosphere,” he says. “It’s welcoming and light, which makes for great tennis and a lot of fun for everyone.”
Each summer, North Ranch offers member children youth programs to hone their tennis skills. Some 140 children participate in the eight-week tennis camps, which are divided into age categories—4-6-and 6-16—and run Tuesdays through Fridays. Some of the groups will play together on occasion, take a swing at a round of golf, and, on Fridays, frolic on the “Slip & Slide.”
During the school year, the North Ranch Junior Tennis Academy operates from Labor Day to about mid-June. Some 15 to 25 children take advantage of the lessons a couple times a week.
Children whose parents do not have tennis memberships can participate in the camp and academy programs upon member invitation. There is no limit to invitees because North Ranch wants to encourage new memberships.
For the adult tennis members, there are competitive drills offered Thursday evenings, Saturdays and Sundays. Drop-ins for play and instruction of members 16 and over are available any time at no additional cost.
Any day of the week, kids and their families can use the pickleball courts. There are even ball machines so individuals can practice by themselves. There are pickleball mixers scheduled periodically, wherein there are often three generations playing together at a single event.
“It’s free, great exercise, and it’s heartening to see families truly enjoying the experience together,” Jeff notes.
The North Ranch program has a long history of producing top amateur junior players, many of whom have gone on to major colleges, such as Pepperdine and the University of California at Santa Barbara. Some will undoubtedly go pro. For the more gifted players, North Ranch offers its High Performance Academy and a scholarship program for various age groups.
One of the top juniors who played at North Ranch is Sam Querrey, who advanced to the quarterfinals at Wimbledon this year. An honorary member of the North Ranch Tennis Club, Sam is often involved in the Club’s many charitable events to support community organizations.
Athletes from Oaks Christian High School also use the North Ranch facilities for practices and matches. Additionally, the Club hosts some 70 area juniors during the grassroots Ventura County Junior Tennis Association annual tournament in April.
North Ranch membership brings many benefits, including a generous free pass program for members to invite guests to experience the facilities. The adult mixed doubles events provide the opportunity for prospective members to check out the facilities.
Jeff is aided in his quest to expand and elevate the program by his Assistant Director of Tennis Bernard Ferrao. Originally from Zimbabwe, Bernard has played the game since he was 5. He brings over 20 years of coaching on national and international stages, including work for the John Lloyd clubs in London, guiding members through weekly tennis drills and clinics. He also runs the junior tennis camp, as he teaches them the art of team play.
Bernard gets a great deal of pleasure from seeing his students grow in strength and health, advance in skill levels, and gain a love of the game. He’s also very social, which supports the Club’s overall direction and adds to the fun atmosphere.
Rounding out the current pro staff is Drew Van Cott, head of junior development, who has a number of responsibilities to support young players. Drew provides on-court instruction, coordinates junior mixers, runs drills and coordinates the annual Ventura County Junior Tennis Association Tournament at North Ranch.
When it comes to cost, considering the facilities, high-level instruction and many perks, North Ranch’s tennis program appears to be a sound investment. Basic tennis memberships at North Ranch are $1,500 for initiation, $309 in monthly dues and $350 per quarter for beverages. North Ranch offers trial programs to those interested in checking out the facilities.
Located at 4761 Valley Spring Drive in Westlake Village, North Ranch Country Club can be reached at 805.496.1995, 818.889.3531 or online at NorthRanchCC.org.