Neil Levinson, board president of the Santa Barbara Tennis Patrons, with John Schuyler. (Judy Foreman / Noozhawk photo)
Neil Levinson, board president of the Santa Barbara Tennis Patrons, with John Schuyler. (Judy Foreman / Noozhawk photo)

For 50 years now, the Santa Barbara Tennis Patrons has introduced thousands of local youth to the sport of tennis and its life lessons and opportunities.

To celebrate the milestone anniversary as the oldest community tennis association in California and to honor program pioneers Harvey Bottelsen and the late Jerry Beaver, the Patrons threw a stately party at the beautiful Montecito home of Julianna and Tom Dain.

“The Tennis Patrons has been providing opportunities for players of all ages and abilities to learn, participate and compete in tennis,” Patrons president Neil Levinson told Noozhawk at the Oct. 14 event.

He was particularly proud of the schools program, which is headed up by Adam Webster and has introduced tennis to “thousands of underserved elementary school students.”

Relaunched this year in partnership with the Santa Barbara Unified School District, the program provides free after-school and summer clinics at 12 different campuses, as well as P.E. instruction.

The program has more than 50 volunteers on board, Levinson exclaimed.

“The Patrons introduces tennis to thousands of kids each year, most whom would never have a racket in their hands or experience what it means to play the sport,” he said, crediting the vision of Beaver and Bottelsen, the latter of whom was inducted last month into the Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table Hall of Fame.

It seemed like Old Home Week for most of the guests, myself included, as I ran into my children’s teachers and my own from Knowlwood Tennis Club, including Tom Horton, Jerry Hatchett and Danny Echt, who held clinics and instruction when my family moved to Montecito from Los Angeles.

Honorees included Mark Basham, Wayne Bryan, Ethel Byers, Marty Davis, Kim Denig, Crandall Edwards, Jerry Hatchett, Bart Hillock, Tom Horton, John Kinsella, Larry Mousouris, Cathy Ann Simon and Jack Trigueiro. A video highlighted Patrons pioneers and included some great vintage photographs.

  • Greg Tebbe, left, executive director of the Santa Barbara Tennis Patrons, and Adam Webster. (Judy Foreman / Noozhawk photo)
  • The Santa Barbara Tennis Patrons went all in on a tennis theme for its 50th anniversary celebration, and why not? It’s the oldest community tennis association in California. (Judy Foreman / Noozhawk photo)
  • Susan Burns and Jerry Hatchett. (Judy Foreman / Noozhawk photo)
  • Lynn Sprecher and Tom Horton. (Judy Foreman / Noozhawk photo)
  • Margaret and Danny Echt, left, and Daphne and Greg Tebbe. (Judy Foreman / Noozhawk photo)
  • Taquitos from Rudy’s Catering, anyone? (Judy Foreman / Noozhawk photo)
  • Neil Levinson, board president of the Santa Barbara Tennis Patrons, with John Schuyler. (Judy Foreman / Noozhawk photo)
  • Ready to serve. (Judy Foreman / Noozhawk photo)
  • Julianna and Tom Dain, hosts of the Santa Barbara Tennis Patrons 50th anniversary party at their stately Montecito home. (Judy Foreman / Noozhawk photo)
  • Gerd and Pete Jordano. (Judy Foreman / Noozhawk photo)
  • What’s better than tennis? Tacos and tennis. (Judy Foreman / Noozhawk photo)
  • From left, John Kinsella, Yvonne Neumann and Mark Basham. (Judy Foreman / Noozhawk photo)
  • Nuh Kimbwala of Heart & Soul Mixology mixes up a signature margarita cocktail. (Judy Foreman / Noozhawk photo)
  • The author with Neil Levinson. (Noozhawk photo)

The more than 150 guests mingled and noshed on hors d’oeuvres and dinner from Rudy’s catering. Heart & Soul Mixology provided a signature margarita cocktail for the evening, and Jordano’s Pacific Beverage donated beer and Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard donated wine.

Santa Barbara Tennis Patrons executive director Greg Tebbe talked with Noozhawk about the program’s past success and its future vision.

“We are committed to introducing the sport to young players and providing opportunities for the community to participate in and enjoy this ‘sport for a lifetime’,” he said.

So far this year, the Tennis Patrons has sponsored 11 tournaments for players of all ages and abilities, with at least two more planned by year’s end.

Junior team tennis spring and fall sessions have introduced and helped develop more than 300 youth ages 8-17 from all over the Santa Barbara area.

Tebbe said the nonprofit organization is looking to raise awareness of the Tennis Patrons’ good work and to kindle the torch among the next generation of tennis patrons.

Click here for more information about the Santa Barbara Tennis Patrons. Click here to make an online donation.

Judy Foreman is a Noozhawk columnist and longtime local writer and lifestyles observer. She can be contacted at The opinions expressed are her own.