Brief History of the Club
In the Spring of 1926, Bob Skinner, with his trusty transit and a cadre of volunteer helpers, began the task of establishing a new Club at the South Ruffner site. A locker room was started and grading and draining for the clay courts begun. These courts bore the Skinner trademark of each court being individually separated by a fence from the others. One exception was that, between courts two and three, there was left a grass plot for spectator space. At the end of the first year the club had sixty-one members.
In 1927, a sixth court was added, and the size of the locker room was doubled. In 1928, a seventh and last court was constructed. Women and juniors were given preference on this court. At this time, court three was designated as the feature court. By the end of 1929, the club had its established limit of members; seventy-five men, twenty women, and ten juniors.
By the mid 1930’s, tennis at South Ruffner had improved so much that a more extensive schedule of matches, including teams from Cincinnati and Columbus, was played. Both city and county tournaments were annual affairs, with Charleston Tennis Club players usually prevailing.
All was well with the Charleston Tennis Club at South Ruffner when, in late 1949, the news came that the land the Club occupied had been purchased by the United Fuel Gas Company for the erection of a large office building and that the property would have to be vacated by mid-1950.
Tom Steptoe, a club member, who had built one of the first residences on Bedford Road, reported that he could see, across the canyon from the back of his property, and about half-mile away as the crow flies, a relatively large heavily forested plateau. This lead was quickly followed, and the site was found to be near ideal. The property belonged to Ray Evans and he was willing to sell it to the club for $20,000.
The option of this property was exercised in mid-winter and contracts were started to build a road from Clark Road to the new site. On July 4, 1950, six tennis courts, men’s and women’s locker rooms and a swimming pool were ready for use.
The first two indoor courts were built in 1966, at a stated cost of $70,000. The third indoor court was added to the Charleston Tennis Club facility in 1970. The three indoor courts were so busy that during the year of 1975-1976 there was practically no vacant court time from 9AM to 10PM, seven days a week.
In 1975, for the first time in the club’s history, the board authorized charging each membership a food minimum of $15 for a three-month period, whether or not the food was consumed. This practice, which is common at most clubs, is said to have reduced the club’s annual food operating deficit only slightly.
From 1970 until 1988 the Charleston Tennis Club was home to the National Girl’s Sweet 16 Championships. Such greats as Tracy Austin and Chris Evert won titles at the tournament.
In 2000, the Charleston Tennis Club celebrated 50 years at its current location. Today, the club includes 13 outdoor courts, six indoor courts, a swimming pool, snack bar, clubhouse/restaurant, fitness center, and hiking trail.