“Tennis is my first love,” said Debby Jacobs, part owner of Rancho Valencia, a 45-acre resort north of San Diego that she, her husband Hal, and their family, bought in 2012 and fully renovated a year later. As part of the remodel, Jacobs championed the restoration of the property’s 18 tennis courts and the buildout of the resort’s new fitness facilities.
Her love for the game and commitment to health and fitness have influenced several important life decisions, including her choice to attend UNLV, where she played tennis on an athletic scholarship in the late 1970s. “Athletics was one big family,” Jacobs said. “It still is.”
It was a bit more complicated for Jacobs to identify an academic route, which came by way of a counselor’s advice.
“She recommended hospitality,” Jacobs said. “The curriculum looked like the perfect path for me.”
She dove headfirst into the program, discovered a passion for hospitality, and earned her bachelor’s degree in Hotel Administration, which would later complement her role as head tennis professional and director of tennis at various clubs. To this day, Jacobs says she blends hospitality principles with charity work for organizations such as the La Jolla Playhouse, for which she has helped raise more than $10 million over 15 years.
“My hospitality background has helped me immensely with budgets, catering, design, and scheduling,” she said.
Through it all, Jacobs has remained anchored in the Rebel spirit, as evidenced by her fantasy football team’s name, “Rebel with a Cause.”
”UNLV embraces individuals,” she said. “It’s non-conforming which enables you to choose your own path.”