The location: The Tennis Club.

Q. What is it supposed to be on the show?

    A. The Newport Beach Racquet & Tennis Club (and a small patio cafe overlooking those tennis courts).

Q. Where is it supposed to be on the show?

Q. When did we see it on the show?

    A. Twice.

    First, in Episode 12 (of season one), "The Secret", where Sandy and Jimmy are having lunch at a patio cafe overlooking tennis courts. Jimmy thanks Sandy for all of his help, but then makes the mistake of telling Sandy that he kissed his wife (Kirsten).

    Three years later, in Episode 5 (of season four), "The Sleeping Beauty", we see it again. It is the tennis club where Kaitlin is taking lessons from a handsome tennis instructor (who won't respond to her flirting because she is only 15), when her mother, Julie, spots the same man and moves in to take over.

    We see Julie & (an angry) Kaitlin playing tennis against the instructor. Kaitlin deliberately hits Julie in the head with tennis balls to get back at her. Later, in the same episode, Kaitlin shows up in her bikini to impress the instructor, only to be shocked to find Julie kissing him on the tennis court.

    When we first see Kaitlin with the instructor (when Julie butts in), they are on the main tennis court (the sunken one, with the steps). But for the later scenes of Julie & Kaitlin playing tennis (and of Julie kissing the instructor) they moved over to a smaller court, immediately west of the bigger one.

Q. What is it actually in real life?

    A. A tennis club and a cafe, but not in Newport.

Q. Where can I find it in real life?

    A. This is the private Manhattan Country Club, at 1330 Parkview Ave., in Manhattan Beach, CA, right next door to Manhattan Beach Studios (where "The O.C." is filmed).

    The country club is located just west of the Marriott Hotel & Golf Course (where they have filmed some of the golf scenes for the show.) It contains almost 20 tennis courts, as well as a swimming pool and that cafe overlooking the main court. (But you won't get in unless you're a member.)

    Here is a map link.

    Here is an aerial photo of the courts (with the scene locations labeled).

    And here is a link to the club's official website.

Q. How the heck did you figure out where it was?

    A. When I first saw the tennis courts on the show, my first guess was that they were probably at Mount St. Mary's (the Harbor School location). But that wasn't right.

    So I started looking close to home ("home", in this instance, being Manhattan Beach Studios, where the show is filmed), using Google's aerial maps. I didn't have far to look. Right next door to the studio is a golf course, and right next door to the golf course is a cluster of tennis courts. Switching to Live Local's "Birds-Eye" maps gave me enough detail to be certain it was the exact location.

    When it came time to identify the tennis courts in Season 4, I assumed it would be the same place, but I was fooled by the fact that they had changed the color of the main (sunken) tennis court. The steps leading down to the sunken court used to be red (with green stripes), but in "The Sleeping Beauty" episode, they were pale blue (or violet) with yellow stripes. So I wasted a lot of time looking at other tennis courts, before finally realizing that it was the same tennis club, only with different colors... Once I checked other details (such as the winding sidewalk and the buildings seen in the background), I was able to verify the location once again.

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