Oakmont Tennis Club
Nestled in the quaint West End of Allentown, Oakmont Tennis Club is a non-profit organization that was founded in 1919 and features seven red clay courts, the only ones with this surface in the Lehigh Valley.
Oakmont is dedicated to generating play and camaraderie among its members by scheduling several weekly organized groups and periodic weekend club socials. A club membership includes unlimited free court time, clinics, organized doubles, a hitting wall, carts of balls, and usage of our ball machine, all at no additional cost.
Our clubhouse has a porch with several white rocking chairs where spectators often sit, rock, converse with other members and watch tennis. Inside, the clubhouse includes a social room with a TV, men’s and women’s locker rooms with day lockers and showers, a water fountain, and a refrigerator in a mini-kitchen area.
If you’re a tennis player of any skill level, come check out Oakmont, where we play on “Red Clay, All Day!”
Oakmont Tennis Club is a family-friendly non-profit club. It is dedicated to maintaining seven quality red clay courts and a tennis-oriented facility for the members and the community that it serves.
Our vision is to provide a fun and healthy environment and structured programs where tennis players of all skill levels can connect with others of similar abilities to improve their game and make new tennis friends. We foster the growth and prosperity of Oakmont Tennis Club in order to reach the maximum potential of both the facility and the tennis community.
Oakmont Tennis Club, one of the oldest traditional red clay courts remaining in the U.S., was founded in 1919 by a group of World War I officers stationed at Allentown’s Fort Crane, located on the grounds of the Allentown Fairgrounds. Fort Crane was the only training facility for the U.S. Army Ambulance Service (USAAS). It was organized at the beginning of World War I to evacuate wounded American and French troops from the front lines in Europe to field hospitals. From 1917 -1919, Camp Crane trained more than 20,000 men, including about 2,000 officers, to be ambulance drivers. After the war ended in November 1918, these men were looking for some type of recreation, and, at that time, tennis was becoming a popular sport. So they built red clay courts near the former Kern’s Restaurant, across from the Fairgrounds at 20th and Liberty Streets.
According to a full-page article that appeared in the Morning Call newspaper in 1924, Oakmont was organized by local people on March 16, 1921, as a non-profit organization. The first officers were Allen Smith, president; Mrs. A.C. Taylor, vice president; C.D. Reber, secretary/treasurer; and A.C. Taylor and J. Ward Crankshaw, directors.
Allen Smith was a civil engineer. Mrs. Taylor was the wife of mechanical engineer, Allyn C. Taylor. Chauncey D. Reber worked as a purchasing agent. J. Ward Crankshaw was sales manager for the Allentown-Bethlehem Gas Company, predecessor of UGI. Dr. I.M. Wright, a professor at Muhlenberg College, is also mentioned.
In the past, as it is today, most of the work at the club was done by volunteers. Red clay courts always require a lot of maintenance and, thus, are quite costly. Being a non-profit organization, the money collected as membership fees goes directly back into running and sustaining the club, just as it does today.
A question that is often asked is, “Where did the name of Oakmont come from?” Evidently, there was a large oak tree at the original location near the Fairgrounds, and someone named it Oakmont.
As tennis became more popular, Oakmont quickly outgrew its original location. In 1923, the club bought property at 2101 W. Allen Street and built nine ‘red clay’ tennis courts, similar to what they probably saw in France and Italy.
But Oakmont’s real arrival in the tennis spotlight came in 1926 when it began hosting the Pennsylvania Clay Court Championships. From then until 1947, it attracted world class players to its courts. Among them was Jimmy Connors and Bobby Riggs, long before the 1970’s when he became a comic foil in his much publicized match with Billy Jean King.
Oakmont is not your “normal” tennis club. While commercial clubs have a full-time staff, Oakmont doesn’t; it is staffed with volunteers. Emails, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and this website are a few ways that we attract and greet members and communicate the activities and happenings of the club.
Come check us out! You will be impressed!
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