History of the club
CLUB TENNIS LLAFRANC
Ferran Adrià has always said that to imagine the future you have to start by understanding the past, the roots, the history. Adrià reimagined gastronomy and, despite his groundbreaking creations that gave him worldwide fame, he was always faithful to the roots and history where, in fact, he found inspiration to innovate. Therefore, at a time when the Club wants to rethink what it wants to be like in the future, we want to bring to these pages a small report, also, of what its past has been.
In conclusion: the Club has lived, year after year, thanks to the drive of committed partners –starting with the founders–, sports lovers, friends and the Empordà. Faithful to the same spirit of the founders, the Llafranc Tennis Club will have to face the task of rethinking its future.
1974 – 2000
THE ORIGINS, THE FIRST 25 YEARS
The initial idea of building a new tennis club dates back to the 60s. Santiago Martí, one of the co-founders, tells us: “The idea of the Club arose because at that time there were only three tracks in Llafranc: that of casa els Carné; that of the Serra house; and that of my family in La Arineda. It was very difficult for us to organize matches between us, family members and potential guests.”
The same group of friends, led by Jesús Serra Santamans, also promoted the Sports Port, to be able to store the boats and leave the beach free for visitors and bathers; his vision was that these initiatives “would improve the tourist category of Llafranc, as has indeed been confirmed” explains Santiago Martí himself.
In that group of friends, Jordi Marsal took the weight to get the purchase of the land, and Jesús Serra took care of the sporting aspects – construction of the courts and drafting of sports regulations – with the advice of the Real Club de Tenis de Barcelona. Jesús Serra himself would become the first president of the CTLL, with Santiago Martí as vice-president and Eduardo Garrido as secretary.
On July 23, 1974, the Town Council of Palafrugell issued the permit to TEDESA (the company they had created to buy the land) to start the works: the idea of a group of friends was beginning to come true.
The CTLL was launched on September 27, 1975 with seven clay courts and four hard courts. The social premises and the rest of the facilities were already magazines, but they would arrive later.
In 1976, the headquarters that we know now arrived, the work of the architect Joan Pericot. In July of that year he launched the first Tennis School under the direction of Antonio Martínez López. The first years of the Club were one of great activity and sporting and social effervescence: visit of the King of Spain in 1978, construction of the sports court, performance by Joan Capri, numerous tournaments, dinners and social and cultural activities. The CTLL was already becoming a benchmark in the Empordà. In 1983, under the presidency of German Loewe, Jesús Serra i Santamans became Honorary President of the Club, in recognition of the its foundational work. Jesús Serra himself would receive the gold and diamond badge fourteen years later, in 1997.
In 1986, Sixte Cambra became the new president of the Club and in 1988 a new license was granted for the expansion of the facilities: the CTLL continued to grow in all aspects. In the same year, Gabriela Sabatini visited the Club in the midst of frantic sporting activity. Among others, he organized the Spanish Veterans Championship every year and that same year Ferran Porta became president. As he himself has told us “At the beginning of my time as president, the objective was to manage from the responsibility trying to improve the offer for members, grow the number of associates and bring the Club closer to Palafrugell”.
In 2000, its 25th anniversary was celebrated: as if nothing else, the idea of a few friends from Llafranc had become the benchmark sports club on the Costa Brava. Ferran Porta remembers the anniversary like this: “I remember that we prepared the event with special dedication. It was a way of recognizing what they had done to those who created the Club and those who had managed it until then. One objective was for as many founders, presidents and someone linked to Llafranc from the world of communication to attend the event. The chosen one was Carlos Sentís who loved Llafranc and knew his historical process. We made a book, the remembered Ernesto Setién dedicated many hours to it, and we were interested in disseminating the event through the different media of the town”.
2000 – 2022
In 2007 CTLL hosted a key FedCup qualifier: “The good relationship we had with the Catalan and Spanish federations allowed us to organize a FedCup qualifier in which Spain was played to lower or maintain the category. The organizational challenge was very great because for the first time we had to put extra stands to the center court, facilitate the presence of television cameras and have, for a week, the club open to many people, with the security problems it represents. It was also a success,” explains Ferran.
In recent years, the Club has maintained its activity and essence, but has suffered a slow trickle, but sustained in number of members. There are many factors that have influenced: the financial and economic crisis of the years 2008-2012 -also, tourism-, The expansion of the offer of other clubs in the area, the exponential growth of paddle tennis and other sports with respect to tennis –the Club’s offer is still heavily skewed towards tennis–, the adoption of “pay-per-use” models by younger generations, normally, through a mobile application… In addition, during the last mandate, chaired by Jordi Cumellas, the Covid-19 health crisis had to be addressed in 2020 and 2021. With waist and many efforts it was possible to weather a complicated situation for everyone, and it was possible to avoid a massive flight of partners, even though the trickle continued. Despite all the measures taken, the finances of the CTLL have suffered and also, the state of maintenance and the offer of services.
Since then, the board has pushed some immediate reforms to the CTLL. Some of them very visible, such as the redecoration of the social space, the improvement of the restaurant, the updating of the gym equipment or the construction of the new chillout of La Pineda; others, more internal management, such as the hiring of a new manager.
The number of members has begun to pick up, but is still far from all-time highs.