For Alex Levie, 35 years at Surf & Turf Tennis Club is a family affair

Alex Levie with students.
Alex Levie with students.

(Surf & Turf Tennis Club)

As excited, racquet-toting children arrived for lessons on a busy June day, their instructor, Alex Levie, reflected upon the Surf & Turf Tennis Club and just how much the family-owned operation has evolved through the decades.

Levie should know. He has worked at the club since 1987 and he and his family have run it for almost that long.

For most of Levie’s 35 years at Surf & Turf Tennis Club, he has served as head tennis professional and director of tennis.

The club is located east of the Del Mar Fairgrounds on Jimmy Durante Boulevard. Its eight courts and well-stocked pro shop haven’t changed much since they opened in 1975.

A culture of “come one, come all” has defined the club since the Levie family took it over decades ago.

“We’re not a country club,” Levie said. “We simply have an expertise in all aspects of tennis. It’s all we do. It’s all we’ve ever done. It’s all we want to do.

“We foster an environment where everyone is so supportive of one another. Everyone wants to improve their tennis game and they all have the same goal —but not at the expense of friendships,” he said.

Levie, who grew up in Solana Beach and attended Torrey Pines High School before earning a full tennis scholarship to Arizona State University, started working at Surf & Turf as an assistant not long after college.

When the first of four generations of Levies took control of operations in the early 1990s, Alex — a self-described tennis nerd — called in his big sister, Karen Fisher, to manage the business.

Their mother, Bernice Levie, became a most-valuable coach. The elder Levie, now 90, applied what Alex called “the grandmother effect — with stickers, candies and nothing but positivity” to coax shy children onto the courts. Soon, those kids could not wait to play.

Bernice Levie also coached and partnered with younger ladies for league play.

“The ladies would say, ‘When we grow up, we want to be just like your mother,’” Alex Levie said.

The Levie tennis legacy includes Alex’s son, Adam, a top doubles player for four years and CIF finalist in doubles at Torrey Pines High School. Adam earned a tennis scholarship to UC Davis and was a four-year, all-conference doubles player. Together with his father, Adam and Alex have won a number of first place trophies at father/son tournaments.

Still another generation of Levies — Bernice’s great-grandson —is gravitating to the club. Shimon, 13, is making his own mark on the tennis court.

Today, Alex Levie says he feels privileged to teach the children of some of his own former students.

“The parents are so happy I’m still teaching, so happy they can take their children to experience my coaching and all the club has to offer,” he said. “I’m so pleased to make an impact on people’s lives and make tennis enjoyable for them.”

In 2012, Surf & Turf Tennis Club was named Tennis Club of the Year by the San Diego District Tennis Association, a local arm of the United States Tennis Association, tennis’ governing body. In 2006, the Levie family received USTA’s Family of the Year Award. Alex Levie is a former United States Professional Tennis Association pro of the year.

Surf & Turf Tennis Club offers instruction for independent study PE credits to high school and junior high students throughout the region.

Learn more at — Surf & Turf Tennis Club news release