There’s a bit of the North Carolina mountains at Sawgrass.
Developer Jimmy Stockton spent some time at Roaring Gap, a community outside of Winston-Salem, and he liked the way the tennis courts looked. He saw that if courts were separate and tiered like those in North Carolina, they could be visible from a centrally located clubhouse. “We had to move 50,000 yards of dirt,” said Stockton. “We got the effect that I wanted.”
Stockton also knew the importance of a good clubhouse and hired Jacksonville architect Bob Broward, who had worked with Frank Lloyd Wright and whose design reflected it.
And, when the tennis center opened in 1974, it moved the brand-new club to the top of the tennis circles in Northeast Florida, where nothing like that had ever been seen. It even had a helicopter pad (that’s the open space next to the complex that you can see today.) Australia’s international Hall of Famer, Ken Rosewall described the courts at Sawgrass as the best tennis design he had seen anywhere in the world with the exception of a club in Monte Carlo!
The complex originally had 12 courts, which were constructed by Joe Whalen’s company in Jacksonville. Sawgrass hosted its first professional tennis championship in 1977 with $25,000 going to Dick Stockton and Roscoe Tanner who defeated Bob Lutz and Arthur Ashe. By 1980 Sawgrass had attracted the$175,000 Lipton World of Doubles Championships from Houston, TX, and in anticipation of large crowds the tournament would draw , the current stadium court was built on the north side of the clubhouse where there had been an open lawn just as on the south side.
There is nothing like it in this area, even today. Only the Amelia Island Plantation facility comes close. The design allows grandstands to be built on side courts and there have been as many as 3,000 watching a match. This arrangement was seen most recently when Sawgrass hosted the WTA Professional Women’s MPS Tournament in 2009-2010, won both years by current player Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark and launching her to a World #1 ranking for 72 weeks.
Many of the world’s best have played here including Andre Agassi, Jimmy Connors and a pre-teen Andy Roddick who played in a “12-and-under event” in the Junior Gator Bowl hosted by Sawgrass from 1995 – 2008. We have our local stars as well. Tony Trabert visited the area in 1982, eventually moved to Sawgrass and became the first Executive Director of Tennis. The winner of 2 French Opens, 2 US Opens and 1 Wimbledon singles title, and doubles championships at the French, Australian and US Open, Trabert compiled the incredible record of 106 wins and only 7 losses. Touring Pro, Todd Martin, Australian and U.S. Open finalist, French Open semi-finalist and former World #4 helped grow the Sawgrass tennis program for two years. Our Head Tennis Professional, Magnus Berglund, is a star in his own right. He was a three-time NAIA All-American & Four-time All-Conference at Trevecca Navarene University in Nashville, TN.
Since 1999, Sawgrass has been the home of the SenioRITA Senior Women’s Doubles Tournament, part of the RITA Foundation (Research is the Answer).Two hundred ninety-eight women from 7 states participated in the most recent tournament (2013) which raised over $92,000 in support of breast cancer research at Mayo Clinic and breast cancer services at Baptist Medical Center Beaches.. To date, the tournament has donated over $900,000 to these two institutions.
Players love to compete in this tournament because all matches are played in one location – at Sawgrass – and the tennis center is so accommodating for players and spectators alike. Just as was planned, most matches can be viewed from the tennis pavilion or the southern grassy area. This enduring design continues to impress everyone who plays and watches tennis here. The tennis center, just as Sawgrass Country Club, has over the years and through different management, kept its tennis program at the area’s highest level.
1965 Pine trees bordering the east side of the tennis center are planted as seedlings by Jimmy Stockton
1974 Original 12 courts were completed. They are designed to be visible from the broad pavilion surrounding the tennis club.
1977 SCC hosts its first professional tennis tournament --Dick Stockton and Roscoe Tanner defeat Bob Lutz and Arthur Ashe
1978 Gordon Jones joins staff as teaching pro and touring pro. He played in French Open and Wimbledon.
1979 Dick Stockton, former World #8, joins Sawgrass CC as touring pro and Quail Point owner.
1980 - 1982 Lipton World of Doubles comes to Sawgrass and the Stadium court is built. Brian Gottfried and Raoul Ramirez defeat Stan Smith and Bob Lutz in the first tournament.
1982 The first "Breakfast at Wimbledon" event is held at Sawgrass and continues being held yearly.
1987 Tony Trabert, former World #1, joins Sawgrass CC as Executive Director of Tennis
1988 The DuPont Pro Tournament is played at SCC including Andre Agassi and Jimmy Conners.
1995 -2008 Sawgrass CC hosts the national "Jr. Gator Bowl" Tournament. Andy Roddick and Madison Keys play here.
2000 First SenioRITAs Women’s Senior Doubles Tournament is held at Sawgrass. Tournament is still in operation generating gift funds for breast cancer research at Mayo Clinic and patient services at Baptist Medical Center Beaches.
2009 -2010 MPS Group Championship is played at Sawgrass. This WTA Tournament is won both years by Caroline Wozniacki.
2012 Todd Martin is named Touring Pro and launches his TNT Academy at Sawgrass