The Early History
The years from 1978 to 1998 began a rich tennis
tradition in Palm Coast. Thanks to ITT, Palm
Coast's original developers, and the promotional
skills of Tom Gullikson, tennis was subsidized
as an important amenity. ITT built the
Players Club, Belle Terre Swim and
Racquet Club and the courts at Pine
Belle Terre, a site surrounded by tall pine
trees, attracted mostly social players at all
levels of skill. However, throughout the years,
competitive tournaments were held there, and
players from all over the county entered.
The Players Club, set on a beautiful piece of
land beneath century old oak trees, developed a
world class reputation. It boasted eighteen
magnificently maintained courts: 2 grass, 4
hard, and 12 clay. This facility became a magnet
for world renowned professionals such as Andre
Agassi, Todd Martin and Jennifer Capriati. These
and other professionals came to hone their
skills at exhibitions, training sessions, and
tournaments, Retired tennis devotees found a
home as well, playing both social and
competitive league tennis.
When new owners/developers took charge, that all
changed. The once thriving membership dwindled.
Players joined other clubs, moved to gated
communities with tennis as an amenity, or
abandoned the game entirely.
By December of 2005, the Mayor and City Council,
recognized the changing environment and
committed to fast tracking the construction of a
10-court public facility. The new Palm Coast
Tennis Center on Belle Terre Parkway opened in
November 2007. The Palm Coast Tennis Center
offers league play, both Greater Volusia Tennis
League [see "Leagues" section of the website]
and USTA teams, lessons, cardio tennis, programs
for juniors, social events, demo days and more.
There are currently just under 300 members with
between 550 to 600 players per week, including
members and guests.
More Recent History: The Friends of Tennis
Friends of Tennis is a grassroots
Community Tennis Association (CTA). In August
2005, the group formed a steering committee of
nine and a base of several hundred supporters to
grow the game of tennis in Palm Coast. The first
mission was to advocate for a public tennis
facility. Members attended City Council
meetings, wrote letters and e-mails, met with
government officials, tennis court experts and
pros--all in support of an affordable tennis
center, offering a range of programs suitable
for all ages and all skill level players.
On December 20th 2005, the City Council
committed to reallocate funds in their
Recreation and Parks budget to fast track the
building of a 10-court facility. The Center,
open since November 2007, already boasts just
under 300 player/members. In addition, Friends
of Tennis began focusing on the goal of
expanding tennis into the community. Adult
social programs such as Quadrant Tennis were
initiated. Children’s programs were begun. They
include working with Special Olympics athletes,
introducing ralleyball in the schools and at the
Community Center, and providing on-court
volunteers for the 21st Century
Learning program at Bunnell Elementary. Friends
of Tennis volunteers also support the popular
Looney Dunes kids’ event at Hammock Dunes.
Friends of Tennis supported the first cross town
high school match between Flagler Palm Coast
High School and the new Matanzas High School in
the spring of 2007. The group has also
reinstituted a spring tournament to benefit high
school tennis athletes that was initially
started in 1991.
What’s next? The basic mission of Friends of
Tennis continues to be the same—to grow the game
of tennis in Palm Coast and Flagler County.