Winter is gone and now we can start to hear birds chirping, kids playing and tennis balls bouncing over nets and courts everywhere. This is the lowdown on how to get started playing a sport that professionally never ends.
There are a few places to get that long-awaited city tennis court permit. First, you can go to:
The Arsenal at 64th Street on 5th Ave. (212) 310-6000. It is next to the Central Park Zoo and downstairs; a major ‘go to’ place to buy your permits and has a counter-filled with important handouts about tennis and other park activities. Seasonal tennis permits (April-Nov.) for adults (18-61 years old) is $200 (cash, check, money order, debit/credit cards). Juniors $10 (17 & under) and seniors (62 +) pay only $20 with proof of age. An adult with an NYCID only pays $180. It’s a great place to also meet other tennis people and possible partners.
The next best location is at Paragon Sporting Goods at 18th Street on Broadway (1-800-961-3030).This is a nice place to buy a permit for the same price as the Arsenal and to browse around the tennis area surveying racket bags, grip accessories, apparel and footwear. Paragon’s permit area is in the back of the store on the first floor. They take only cash and credit/debit cards (no checks and money orders) and they also take your photo in the same area to process your new tennis permit card.
EquipmentIf you’re short on funds and really need a tennis racket or other tennis accessories, visit other sporting shops such as Modell’s (preferably at 18th Street on 6th Ave. or even 97th Street on Columbus Avenue; 42nd Street & Vanderbilt Ave. near Lexington is a great one, too).
It’s absolutely necessary to get a pair of tennis shoes, too, because without the proper soled shoes, you’ll be forbidden to play on any surfaced courts. The Sports Authority shop (51st Street/3rd Ave.-212-355-9725) is another place to browse for tennis gear and accessories. They may be more reasonable and suitable to buy from if you are a weekend player or one who hasn’t played in years and are just starting up the sport again
LessonsYou may have decided to get into tennis finally after seeing it on television or just wandering around city courts but don’t really know how to play so the best place to check would be recreational centers like Asphalt Green (at 91st on York Ave.) or the YMCA’s, such as 23rd St - McBurney or the 63rd St. Y off of Central Park. The racquet clubs and tennis centers will also give lessons but shop around for the most reasonable price per hour.
Some colleges and universities may have a series of classes, tailored for your playing status.
Where to PlayNow, if you can get the ball over the net fairly well but still need a reliable partner, try posting you name and number at a city parks tennis center (like Central Park) bulletin board with your status of beginner or intermediate in mind. Major city courts are Central Park Tennis Center at 96th Street within Central Park, Riverside Park at 119th Street downstairs and Riverside Park Clay courts at 96th Street and Riverside Drive downstairs. (The list of other courts and locations are on the handouts you can pick up at The Arsenal).
If getting a permit has to be put on the back burner until your money status has improved, then an alternate playing situation is Seward Park HS Tennis Courts on Grand Street on the Lower East Side. It’s convenient by public transportation with the “F” train to East Broadway or the “14A” bus let’s you off at the corner of Clinton & Grand. The courts are hard, free and first-come-first-play.
You will have to contend with four other sports happening at the same time as people playing on three tennis courts, a few basketball hoops, a running track and a few sets of handball walls are the scenario, but staying focused will at least allow you to play for free. It’s important to get there as early as possible to be certain you will get an available court with fewer people around.
Another alternative is schoolyards that are available when kids aren’t playing baseball or soccer. Handball walls may also be the ideal spark to get your timing and strokes together before you take on a schoolyard or proper tennis court.
Just warming up your shots may be all you need really for the time being. The season is here, so enjoy - wherever and whenever.