By Laurel Busby
Tennis pro Mike Tomas and businessman Todd Ferrier took charge of the Palisades Tennis Center on Jan. 1 as interim concessionaires.
The venture at the Palisades Recreation Center has received positive community feedback thus far, according to Los Angeles Department Recreation and Parks, and it will eventually go through the standard bidding process for new concessions. Because the changeover had to happen quickly at the end of 2016, the city signed a three-month agreement as a “stop-gap measure” with Ferrier and Tomas. The city will likely renew this agreement until the bidding process is completed.
Since 2014, Tomas has directed the concession for Palisadian Steve Bellamy’s company, Atonal Sports. However, Bellamy’s primary vocation as the president of the Motion Picture and Entertainment Consumer and Film Division at Eastman Kodak had become too time consuming to allow him to operate his three tennis concessions at Palisades, Cheviot Hills and Westwood parks, all of which Tomas and Ferrier will now run.
“I informed the city that my company was going to have to give up the concession at the year end,” said Bellamy, founder of both the Tennis Channel and the Ski Channel. “In looking at options, we were all fortunate that Mike and Todd had the interest and ability to take over the operations on very short notice, and they have already proven to be a giant windfall. Mike is a beacon in the local tennis community, and Todd is a very respected tennis local.
“Obviously, my company had run the tennis center for 22 years, and its future success is imperative for me to personally sleep at night. These guys are super talented, know the tennis center inside out and are just flat out loved by all who play tennis in the Palisades,” Bellamy said.
Tomas, 45, who began playing tennis at age eight, has been coaching at the Palisades Tennis Center for 81⁄2 years. A New Yorker who moved to Los Angeles in 2002, he played intensely in his early 20s and was ranked for a couple of years in the top 10 of National Men’s Amateurs. He also toured professionally for two years, played and coached for Port Washington Tennis Academy, and coached for the Austrian Davis Cup and Fed Cup team captains in Vienna.
Meanwhile, his business partner, Ferrier, 44, an attorney, businessman and former Palisades Community Council member, has offices in both Pacific Palisades and Hollywood for his wholesale company, which designs,manufacturesandsellsbothapparel and gift items for various retailers, including Kate Spade, Ralph Lauren and his own brands, such as ban.do, which is geared to millennial women.
The two met playing tennis, and Tomas, who was interested in expanding from coaching to working with the business side of tennis, eventually began discussing some of those interests with Ferrier.
“We had the same goal—to make the park a fun place,” Tomas said. “I had ideas myself of being in the sports business, and he’s been on the business end of things. It’s a great fit” with the combination of sports, community and business knowledge that the two comprise. “To me in my mind, it was a match made in heaven.”
Ferrier agreed.“The city is all about serving the community, and so are we,” he said. “We don’t have any other plans to do anything else except try and better the concession.”
The two will continue to offer existing lessons and activities at their three Palisades Tennis Center courts, ranging from almost 30 group classes for kids to more than 30 live-ball sessions geared to adults, while the city coordinates rentals on the other five courts, such as by individuals and for the Palisades High School championship teams.
For their operation, Tomas and Ferrier would like to make some changes, including enhancing communication with the community and improving the pro shop. Ferrier, an Atlanta native, moved to the Palisades 20 years ago after graduating from Vanderbilt University. He earned a law degree from Pepperdine, and he and his wife, Kimberley, have three children, Charlotte, 12, and 10-year-old twins, Colt and Campbell, who attend Corpus Christi School. Tomas, a Santa Monica resident who moved to California when his wife Daniela’s company transferred here, also has three children, Isabella, 13, Nicoletta, 8 and Rocco, 2. He first was exposed to tennis because his mother, a self-taught tennis enthusiast, loved the sport, and as he played over the years, he treasured both the fun and life skills that came with the endeavor. That’s why he chose to go into coaching.
“I decided I wanted to give back to people what tennis has given to me,” Tomas said. “It teaches you so many life lessons. It teaches you how to have your own internal fortitude. It teaches you competition, but it’s also very social. You can go anywhere in the world and find friends to play with. It’s the sport of a lifetime.”
The tennis center is in the process of updating its website to reflect the changes, and people who would like information or to make recommendations can contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call (310) 573-1331.