A Brief History Of
Oakland Hills Tennis Club
In 1971, after reacquainting himself with the game of tennis, James (Jim) W. Thompson, Sr., started considering a tennis club development. He thought it could prove a wise investment, a great lifestyle and a rewarding and fulfilling endeavor.
Two years of searching for the right location finally bore fruit when he came across a large, undeveloped parcel of land at Redwood Rd., just below Skyline Blvd., in the east Oakland hills. This 8.5 acre parcel of land was owned by Crestmont Development, and adjunct of R. T. Nahas Co., the original developers of Crestmont, an attractive residential area maximizing on the breathtaking views that are the staple of the area.
Robert T. Nahas, president of both Crestmont Development and R. T. Nahas Co., was approached in November of 1973 about the prospect of developing a club at this site. After several meetings and projections, Mr. Nahas agreed to back the project. He was also instrumental in acquiring an additional 1.5 acre parcel that fronted Redwood Rd., combining a total acreage of 10 acres. Jim and Mr. Nahas’ son, Randy, were given the task of applying to the City of Oakland for a Major Conditional Use permit to allow the club on this site since its zoning was R-30, Residential. This process required contact with the local homeowner associations whom enthusiastically supported the project from the outset. By June, 1974, all approvals were obtained and the task of developing a reality. Jim’s tasks included membership development, sales and management; Randy’s included physical construction. Both had considerable input towards final design and layout, subject to the approval of Robert T. Nahas.
Oakland Hills Tennis Club, Inc., was officially incorporated in July, 1974. Construction commenced in October 1974 but an unusually wet, late winter delayed completion of the ten (10) tennis courts until August 1, 1975, the official “Grand Opening” of the club. The 4,000 sq. ft. clubhouse opened December, 1975; the pool in March of 1976.was set at 400 Tennis, 200 Swim. While the Tennis Membership filled up almost immediately, it was about two years before the Swim Membership sold out.
By 1978, the Nahas family decided to sell their interest. Jim’s parents decided to acquire the Nahas ownership. Immediately after acquisition, four additional courts were lighted (for a total of eight), significantly improving nighttime play. Membership remained full although, in mid-1980’s , interest seemed to slacken. A single purpose club was going out of style. Therefore Jim Sr., created expansion plans to meet the club’s growing needs. Jim Burns, owner of Collaborative Design Architects, and architectural firm, was hired to design an addition of 8,500 sq. ft, providing a new group fitness room, fitness room, café (which was later converted into the present free weight room in 2001), locker rooms, steam rooms and saunas. Redesign and relocation of the Pro Shop, babysitting and executive offices were also part of the plan. Approval for these grandiose plans were not as easily accomplished as in the original phase. The City of Oakland would not grant a new Conditional Use Permit; and Environmental Impact Report was required to examine the affects of rezoning to C-20, Commercial, a touchy subject in a residential area. It took three years to achieve approval. Finally, the city granted 6 acres, C-20 zoning; 4 acres R-30 zoning – the club sits on the 6 acre parcel.
In July 1989, Jim’s parents opted to transfer their ownership interest to Jim and Eileen, his wife. In October of this same year, Jim and Eileen elected to move forward with expansion plans, In December 1990, the additions were completed. Currently the operation is truly a family commitment. Not only are Jim Sr. and Eileen active, their son Jim Jr. , and grandson Austin, are all involved in the day-to-day operations.