Malibu Racquet Club sold

Jerry Seymour will stay on as an advisor and consultant for at least one year at the Malibu Racquet Club.

Malibu’s popular tennis club is changing hands. The buyer is a mystery.

By Kim Devore / Staff Writer

Local tennis buffs may notice a few courtside changes now that the Malibu Racquet Club has been sold to an unnamed buyer. The club’s longtime owner Jerry Seymour said several offers had been made to him over the past year, but “I liked this one because it had the best chance of remaining a tennis club.” He did not want to identity the new owner and only said, “The new ownership has a love of tennis and links to Malibu.” The purchase price was not disclosed.

Nestled atop Stuart Ranch Road, the property has eight ocean view tennis courts as well as a 5,000 square foot clubhouse and the Courtside Café operated by The Godmother of Malibu catering company.

Seymour started working at the club 33 years ago while he was in law school.

“I had been a recreation director and a lifeguard and I needed a place where I could go and clear my head,” he said. “It wasn’t that long before I found myself running the place.”

Seymour became an owner just two years later. He said he loved the club’s intimate community feel, and over the course of three decades it has become his home away from home.

“What it allowed me to do is to create an old time relationship between owner and customer that doesn’t exist anymore,” Seymour said. “I have friends and acquaintances that I have had for 33 years. It’s far more than just opening the doors everyday.”

Seymour also has many fond memories. Like when tennis ace Rod Laver took to the court to settle a business dispute, or the day that comedian Rich Little did impressions in the locker room, or the many times John McEnroe sauntered in for a match. The club has seen its fair share of other famous faces from Laurence Olivier to Jon Lovitz, Barbra Streisand to Pierce Brosnan. Despite that serious star power, Seymour tried to extend a warm welcome to all.

“I was very careful to make sure everyone was equal here,” he said. “No one got special treatment because of their name or their position.”

Due to an injury, Seymour hasn’t been able to hit the court himself for quite some time. He admits he isn’t as spry as he used to be and said age and energy also played a part in his decision to sell.

“I was a young man when I came here,” he said. “I am 63 years old now and I’ve had a couple of heart attacks. I don’t have the stamina to run this club, but I found the right buyer at the right time with the best possible scenario to keep the club going.”

Like many longtime business owners, Seymour acknowledges Malibu is in for some big changes; however, “given that fluid situation, I am as comfortable as I can be,” he said.

The club will keep its existing staff and as far as the members are concerned, it will be “business as usual.”

To ensure a smooth transition, Seymour will stay on as an advisor and consultant for at least one year. And while he doesn’t plan on becoming a stranger, the avid fisherman wishfully said, “There is a big brown trout in New Zealand who’s waiting for me.”