Southern California Tennis

Facility Spotlight: iTennis Performance Center at Whittier Narrows

John Letts sat back from afar and watched a once booming tennis center see a drop off in play, and decided it was time to make a change.

Stanford-educated and a product of the Jack Kramer Club junior program back in the early 1980s, Letts had his reasons for wanting to make the Whittier Narrows Tennis Center a thriving tennis facility once again.

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John Letts returned to the Jack Kramer Club during the South Bay Junior event with two of his players.

With 16 lighted courts and easily accessible in South El Monte from the 10, 605 and 60 freeways, Letts felt Whittier Narrows had potential to get back to the level it once was at.

“I remember when Horacio Tamborini had the place rocking and rolling back in the day,” said Letts, whose tennis concession business iTennis took over the facility programming in 2009. “It had changed hands over the years but I always felt it had the potential to be a great facility.”

So much so, that at the end of last year Letts decided to put his full attention into the facility and started the iTennis Performance Center out of Whittier Narrows.

The facility is home to dozens of USTA League teams that have gone on to win both Sectional and even National Championships. But Letts said what gets him most excited is working with the higher level kids where he is spending up to 40 hours a week on the court.

“The most fun thing for me is to see kids a lot, like four, five times a week, as opposed to once a week,” said Letts, a Texas native who was a two time All-American and member of two NCAA championship teams at Stanford. “That’s more rewarding for me as a coach, personally.”

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Letts said the end goal is to make the iTennis Performance Center a full-day program academy and eventually offering boarding.

Another goal is to do a large search for an acting director to head the high performance group.

“We’ve had some good players, but not had that goal to produce a great player,” Letts said. “Now with Whittier Narrows and iTennis Performance we feel like we can do that, and we’re starting to get a bunch of good juniors.”

iTennis is currently in place at six facilities, including Andulka Part Tennis Center in Riverside, Whittier Narrows, Arcadia Park, Arroyo Seco Park in South Pasadena, Rose Bowl Tennis Center and Plummer Park in West Hollywood.

Letts, who jokes that he was an “also-ran” at the Kramer Club when it was producing dozens of top-level players, won the SCTA Junior Sectionals 18s in 1982, beating Dana Treister in a three-set final. “The Sectionals was always the highlight and the pinnacle tha13062266_228104974223128_5809430973026705271_nt everyone looked forward to,” Letts said. “It was a huge tournament and you saw every player from San Diego to San Luis Obispo.”

Later that summer, Letts went on to win the 18s at the USTA National Hardcourts at Kalamazoo, Mich., before setting out for Stanford.

During his professional career, he achieved success in doubles, winning seven ATP Tour doubles titles and reached four ATP Tour doubles finals.

The Rundown:

  • No. of Courts: 16, all lighted.
  • Website: www.itennisperformance.com
  • Phone: 626.442.7358.
  • Full Service: Pro shop and racquet stringing available on-site.
  • Address: 1201 N. Potrero Ave., South El Monte, CA 91733
  • Email for more information: frontdesk@wntennis.com

 

 

 

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