Crisp white with just a few splashes of color, a collar shirt, tortoiseshell glasses and a simple gold necklace around the neck. This is none other than the style icon and three-time main master Arthur Ashe. The traditional tennis club style of the 70s is intertwined by the owner of with the modern park players of Los Angeles LA racket club Sasha Paskal.
The online “club” has stolen the keys to the typical rigid and tight tennis club and is making way for the new and more exciting era of tennis. Racquet Club LA isn’t just about practicing technique and match play, it’s also about appreciating the slow moments that the sport seems too often to forget.
RCLA’s “Boys Club” shiny turtle keychain.
“I had recently returned to LA from a year-long stay in New York and found myself in a dark headspace when my mom suggested I go back to tennis,” Paskal tells Baseline. “After a few years outside the game, it was so refreshing to be back on the pitch with a whole new appreciation for the game and the community of people I met.”
RCLA may not be an actual establishment, but it is Instagram, along with the website, is very different from any other tennis club. It’s a refreshingly close community with members of all backgrounds and ages who “live leisurely”. In the online club, the players slow down and enjoy the moment together with parents and retirees.
The Instagram page is not just a collection of merchandise and updates on developments in the professional tennis world. Instead, it is a “nostalgic, cheeky, carefree” photo collection, which in turn forms a color-coordinated mood board that goes beyond the boundaries of the court.
“When I first opened an account in 2019, I knew I wanted a creative medium to share photos that made me happy with an audience large or small,” says Paskal. “It was interesting to learn that a lot of people came to the site for the tennis content, but also stayed because of the vintage and old school vibe. The best part, however, was several people who went out of their way to let me know I’ve only just started taking up the sport because of my constant tennis content. I love the mix of tennis and non-tennis players on this platform, it’s become a real community. “
As a woman in her late twenties, Paskal is a runaway at her LA tennis club. She has no pension, no children and is not retired, but she likes to live slowly. The kind of life where conversations are effortless, real relationships are forged, and no phone screens are looked at.
RCLA may be an online social get-together for now, but Paskal hopes to make it a reality with people from all walks of life connecting on and off the pitch.
RCLA’s classic champion sweater.
“My ultimate goal at RCLA is to have a functioning tennis shop in Southern California (and beyond) that also serves as a hangout for players of all skill levels,” says Paskal. “I envision a place that combines the best aspects of private clubs (conviviality, routine, community) but merges with a modern and updated one-stop tennis store.”
Right now, Paskal is working hard to bring back the classic tennis outfits from the 70s. Currently, the Racquet Club LA website allows customers to purchase hats, bags, oversized sweatshirts, and even the keys that were “stolen” from the club.
“It was the very first design I came up with after talking to my mom about the idea I was playing around with [a tongue-in-cheek take on the country club]”She talks about the fun times in the 70s when she and her friends were constantly kicked out of the club for not following the club’s archaic and clumsy rules.” I had a lightbulb moment when I realized this was exactly what I wanted RCLA to look like, a club for all of those who lifted those restrictions and dated rules but still a closed one Community of connoisseurs are. We stole the keys from the old guard and started a new, much funnier club. “
With nearly 9,000 followers on Instagram, it’s safe to say that the like-minded club is growing and eager to break the rules of tennis’s rigid past.
“The biggest takeout I’d like to have from my brand is the ‘Live Life Leisurely’ ethos. You can have your cake and eat it too, go to the court and dress in those tennis whites and pearls while you’re also The Person who only took up the sport a few months ago and has never set foot in a country club. This sport is no longer just for a group, “she says.
The average Joe might not get the joke behind RCLA’s “Tennis Mom” hat, but that’s what sets RCLA apart from any other sports company in tennis. It’s not just a brand, it’s an association. If you know you know.