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Monday, Jul 22, 2024

Barnes Center Builds Community, Champions


Ryan Redondo spent a good portion of his toddler years romping around the tennis courts on Montezuma Mesa, swinging a racket that was almost as big as he was while his father, Skip Redondo, coached men’s tennis at San Diego State University.

The young Redondo would sometimes literally hold court while the Aztecs practiced for their next competition. With Ryan by his side during much of his decade-long tenure, Skip Redondo would become the winningest coach in SDSU’s men’s tennis program history.

Ryan Redondo
Youth Tennis San Diego

Now more than 30 years later and a SDSU grad himself, Ryan Redondo is running the local tennis hub for youths and adults, leading a nonprofit to teach children in impacted communities while helping bring major sports events to San Diego.

The 39-year-old Redondo is CEO and general manager of the George E. Barnes Family Junior Tennis Center, a site that was built in 1995 and is dedicated to the youth of San Diego, but also a home for adult tennis players.

Since Redondo started in 2020, the Barnes Center has been receiving accolades – and much more.

Last year it received a $2.5 million grant from the state of California to upgrade facilities for the first time in more than 25 years. It also was recognized in 2021 as the best facility in the United States by the U.S. Tennis Association.

“I think we won that because of the hands-on work we do ourselves as a community provider,” Redondo said. “We have a great director of tennis in Steve Adamson and we offer a recreational pathway to enjoy the game and learn it – or an advanced academy for those who are looking for college scholarship or to turn pro. We provide everything here.”

Redondo takes pride in the work he does as CEO of Youth Tennis San Diego, the nonprofit that promotes education, physical development and social skills for kids from ages 3 to 18, through tennis and educational activities.


The Gift of Tennis

Many of YTSD’s programs are held at the Barnes Center but it also teams with a foundation and board of directors to reach communities across the county, offering after-school programs in some of the region’s most in-need, impacted communities, where, in addition to teaching tennis basics, YTSD also teaches life skills like sportsmanship, resilience, responsibility and the importance of team work.

“Youth Tennis San Diego is important because of our outreach,” Redondo said. “We provide tennis to all youths, paying for the coaches, the equipment, the permits. Everything to provide the experience of tennis and education to youth.”

For Redondo, his work with YTSD is all about service and making a difference in the world. Before he moved back to his native San Diego, Redondo was director of tennis and head men’s tennis coach for nearly 10 years at the University of the Pacific in Stockton.

There, he learned about leadership and the impact of community outreach, forming partnerships with different groups, including the USTA, that among other endeavors brought tennis to underserved communities. He also became part of the community’s homelessness task force.

“I did a lot of little things in Stockton,” Redondo said. “I just really wanted to be a part of making change.”

When he decided to make a change of his own and move back to San Diego in 2019, after a short stint working at the Rancho Santa Fe Tennis Club, he was approached about taking over the Barnes facility and YTSD – and he was subsequently hired in May 2020.

Redondo’s job at the Barnes Center was sort of a “coming full circle” for a community that watched him grow up on the SDSU tennis courts–a place he also spent about four years as an assistant coach for the Aztecs’ men’s tennis team.

In addition to Skip Redondo, currently the director of tennis at the Oakland Hills Tennis Club, Ryan Redondo’s uncle Walter Redondo played tennis professionally and his aunt Marita Redondo competed on the Women’s Tennis Association Tour. “Tennis is in our blood and for me it’s a way that I can continue to give back to the community,” he said.


Bringing the Pros to San Diego

Redondo said he knows how important it is to cultivate relationships and connect people, and in the last two years he has worked with the Southern California Tennis Association Foundation to help bring professional tennis to San Diego. The SCTA Foundation is a nonprofit that began in Los Angeles in 1984. Its office is currently located inside the Barnes Tennis Center.

This fall the Barnes Center will host the San Diego Open ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) 250 and the San Diego Open WTA 500. The men’s tourney will run from Sept. 17-25 and the women will play Oct. 8-16. Both tournaments are major draws for local tennis fans and visitors, with nearly 1/3 of the fans coming from out of the area, Redondo said.

“We’re bringing in hundreds of thousands of dollars in hotel revenue, tourism and catering,” he said. “They’re booking hotels, dining in restaurants and renting cars.”

Bill Kellogg
Southern California Tennis Association Foundation

Bill Kellogg, president of the SCTA Foundation, said that last year was the first year that it brought a professional men’s tournament to San Diego, and that 2022 will be the first time in the county’ history that there will be a men’s and women’s professional tournament in the same year.

“You would think San Diego would be a hotbed of tournaments, and we are at the local level, but we haven’t been at the professional level,” he said.

Kellogg said that last year it cost the foundation $1.7 million to operate the men’s event – including prize money, hotel reservations, transportation, catering, building stands for fans and television equipment needs. He said this year’s costs will be $1.3 million for the ATP stop and $1.7 million for the WTA event.

Kellogg said the San Diego Tourism Marketing Board agreed to make a $74,000 contribution to the tournaments. He also said that events like the ATP and WTA stops coming to the Barnes Center is more than just a way to bring visitors to town.

“They call attention to the great things that are happening at the center,” he said. “What these tournaments also do is highlight the great work Ryan and his team are doing to help kids stay healthy and learn in one of the safest environments, through tennis.”


Youth Tennis San Diego
FOUNDED: 1952 (as San Diego Tennis Patrons)
CEO: Ryan Redondo
HEADQUARTERS: George E. Barnes Family Junior Tennis Center, Point Loma
BUSINESS: Nonprofit
YOUTHS SERVED: 5,000 annually
WEBSITE: barnestenniscenter.com/ytsd-foundation
CONTACT: (619) 221-9000
SOCIAL IMPACT: Its after-school tennis programs serve San Diego’s most in-need neighborhoods, teaching the game of tennis while inspiring area youth to make positive choices.
NOTABLE: YTSD built the Barnes Center in 1995 as a recreational and educational resource for the community.

Entrance to the George E. Barnes Family Junior Tennis Center in Point Loma. Photo by Karen Pearlman

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