North Ranch Country Club

Facility Spotlight — North Ranch Country Club

Jeff Miller feels like he’s found the recipe for success in building a top-notch junior academy at one of the finer tennis clubs in Southern California.

Miller, who took over as the director of tennis at the North Ranch Country Club in Westlake Village in September of 2012, said his main focus has been building a strong junior program from the youngest members up.

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North Ranch CC Director of Tennis Jeff Miller

“It’s really organic because if you start with the kids, the parents fall into it too,” said Miller, a Southern California native who grew up in Santa Monica and played professional on the USTA Pro Circuit for several years after playing his college tennis at Cal-State Los Angeles.

“We’ve had guys who have played in high school or college, and then maybe stopped playing for 20 years and are now back playing because of their kids,” Miller continued. “And they can’t get enough. We believe in growing tennis with the kids, and then hopefully the adults come back. We’ve also had parents who maybe have not been exposed to tennis before. But now since their kids are having fun, the entire family is playing.”

North Ranch has about five USTA teams competing per quarter and another five within the club. “So our adults play,” Miller added.

The Top Seed Academy managed the club’s tennis direction for 18 years, but three years ago club decision-makers decided to make a change and Miller was brought in from the Brentwood Country Club.

“When I got to North Ranch part of it was me just listening to the members because they had Top Seed for so long, and just seeing what they wanted,” Miller said. “For the first six months it was me basically listening and seeing what the club’s needs were, and what the membership wanted.”

Miller said club membership has been increasing and junior participation has started to improve, as well. “Back in the day North Ranch was the club in the area for junior tennis, and I wanted to get back to that,” he said.

NRCC

In January North Ranch launched the North Ranch Junior Tennis Academy and went from six to eight juniors to now about 25 to 30.

Two high schools seniors at the club have plans to walk-on next year at Division I schools. They include Scotland Garapedian at Pepperdine and Oak Park High senior Matthew Gottlieb, who plans to attend UCSB in the fall.

“We didn’t do too much high performance before, but the kids can now see players a little older right next to them having some success,” Miller said.

Bernard Ferraro

Assistant Director Bernard Ferrao

Miller has 16 years of professional tennis experience, and is on the national staff for New Balance and Babolat.

He is assisted by Bernard Ferrao, originally from Zimbabwe who previously worked for the John Lloyd clubs in London. “Bernard works with our beginning women and the junior program,” Miller said. “He’s a real social guy and an important asset to have at our club.”

Three teaching professional who work with Miller and Ferrao include Bruce Proctor, Drew Van Cott, and former Pepperdine standout Kirstin Kastor.

This summer all the pros will be on court for camps with three of the nine weeks to even include some golf instruction and play.

Miller recently finished his graduate studies at Pepperdine earning an MBA, a rarity among tennis professionals. “The biggest difference between undergrad and graduate school is you learn to manage people and to develop relationships with people,” Miller said. “PTennis Courtseople would ask, ‘Why do you want to go back to school?’ But regardless of what I do, it’s just going to make me that much better at dealing with people.”

He concluded: “I don’t know a lot of tennis directors who have it, but I think it’s only going to help me.”

The Rundown:
No. of Courts: 12 courts; all lit
History: North Ranch Country Club was originally developed in 1977, and was purchased in 1990 from Prudential to become a member-owned club. Includes a 27-hole facility with three separate nines: the Valley, Oaks and Lakes courses.
Website: www.northranchcc.org
Phone: 805.413.1249
Address: 4761 Valley Spring Dr., Westlake Village, 91362

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