Best tennis courts

Before you hit the clay, consider nine of our high-low favorites.

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  • USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center

  • Yorkville Tennis Club

  • Roosevelt Island Racquet Club

  • CityView Racquet Club

USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center

Expensive

West Side Tennis Club 1 Tennis Pl at Burns St, Forest Hills, Queens (718-268-2300, foresthillstennis.com)
The scene: This tennis mecca is the only joint in the area that lets you play on all four surfaces used in Grand Slam events. Resident pro Bob Ingersole explains: “We’re a destination facility. We have a bar, a pool, a gym—and there’s a lot of camaraderie between the members.”
Number of courts: 38; the ten indoors are open to nonmembers in the winter.
Cost: $5,000 initiation, $1,348 annual dues; $30--$75 per hour court fee for nonmembers in the winter

USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center Flushing Meadows--Corona Park, Queens (718-760-6200, ntc.usta.com)
The scene: The USTA is the world’s largest public tennis facility, and it’s also the official venue of the US Open, which begins August 31. Scrubs looking to experience the high life are welcome at the USTA the rest of the year. You might even spot a Williams sister or Roger Federer if you time your game right.
Number of courts: 46; 34 indoor and 12 outdoor
Cost: $20--$62 per hour

Yorkville Tennis Club 1725 York Ave at 89th St (212-987-0301, yorkvilletennisclub.com). Open daily 7am--11pm.
The scene: Yorkville is the little cousin of Sutton East Tennis (488 E 60th St at York Ave; 212-751-3452, suttoneasttennis.com), and as such is the summer home to the same staff (Sutton East closes for the year at the end of April). “Yorkville is a great place to play mainly because of its two indoor, cushioned hard courts,” says club manager Jerry Elman. Book your court here at least a week ahead of time; the place is in-demand for its location and lighting.
Number of courts: Two
Cost: $75--$145 per hour

Mid-range

East River Park FDR Dr at Broome St, under the Williamsburg Bridge (212-533-0656, nycgovparks.org)
The scene: The court surfaces are a bit rough, but the scenery is distractingly lovely. Learn the bumps and ignore the surroundings to offset the advantage of your annoyingly skilled partner.
Number of courts: 12
Cost: Free with a permit from Paragon Sports (867 Broadway between 17th and 18th Sts; 800-961-3030, paragonsports.com). Applications can also be found at nycgovparks.org; a seasonal permit is $100; a day pass $7.

Riverside Park 96th St at the Hudson River (212-978-0277, rcta.info)
The scene: Patience is required if you choose to play at this picturesque spot, outfitted with red clay courts: Waiting several hours isn’t uncommon. “The biggest crowd factor is the weather report,” says Riverside Clay Tennis Association executive director Mark McIntyre. “If they predict rain, and it ends up being nice, you’ll hardly have to wait.”
Number of courts: Ten
Cost: Free, with permit (see East River Park); $7 per day without permit

Roosevelt Island Racquet Club 281 Main St (212-935-0250, rirctennis.com). Open daily 7am--11pm, court reservation recommended at least 48 hours in advance.
The scene: The management at Roosevelt Island Racquet Club are the tennis friends of the tennis friendless: “We really pride ourselves on arranging games for our members,” enthuses general manager Tom Manhart. And you don’t have to worry about someone who is going to wipe the court with you and your miserable serve—Manhart &Co. will take your mediocre backhand into account when pairing you up.
Number of courts: Ten full indoor doubles courts, one singles court, one ball-machine court
Cost: Members $46--$66 per court per hour (plus $1,250 per year in dues), nonmembers $68--$102 per court per hour

Cheap

McCarren Park North 13th St between Bedford Ave and Berry St, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-963-0830)
The scene: Expect to see lots of kids doing their best Baumer impressions at this Williamsburg redoubt. “Some big assholes frequent this place,” says concerned hipster citizen Sophie Friedman. “They include these middle-age Polish guys who switch out their partners so they can play for hours, and some yuppie jerks who turn the collars of their shirts up.”
Number of courts: Seven
Cost: Free, with permit (see East River Park)

Crotona Park E 173rd St at Crotona Ave, Bronx (718-294-2516)
The scene: This remote spot has quite a few things going for it: a short wait time, lights to play at night and plenty of shady places to dump the body if arguments over whether the ball was in or out get ugly. Crotona Park is not only a welcome respite from the jam-packed Manhattan spots, it’s also in the same general area as the giant Crotona Pool (173rd St at Fulton Ave, 718-822-4440).
Number of courts: 20
Cost: Free, with permit (see East River Park)

Queens College 65-30 Kissena Blvd between Melbourne Ave and 65th Ave, Flushing, Queens (718-997-2771, athletics.qc.cuny.edu) Mon--Fri 1:30--10pm.
The scene: You won’t be treated like royalty at this Queens facility, and getting here requires a bit of a hike. Still, if you’re looking to play some cheap indoor tennis sans the crowds, there is no better place.
Cost: $20--$50 per hour
Number of courts: 12

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3 comments
Alex
Alex

Update: Time to move public courts to the expensive category... 2011 rates for New York City's (so-called) "PUBLIC" tennis courts: SEASON PASS: $200 HOURLY: $15 RESERVATIONS: add $15 LOCKER (avail. in central park only): add $20 I used to play at the East Side Park courts. What you get there: - Exterior courts in poor condition - Puddles everywhere after rain = ground not level. - No lights. - Zero maintenance (bring your own broom) - No where to change. - Filthy toilets. Meanwhile on East Side Park: - Construction of a multi-million dollar promenade - Beautiful football field with massive lights turned on even when it's empty: free. - Brand new baseball field, same scenario: free - Olympic size track and field in mint condition: free - Soccer field: free - Basketball courts: free Time to take action. I wrote to the commissioner of the dept of park and recreation 2 months ago. No response. If they get more complaints, they'll start paying attention. Here's the link to file a complaint: http://www.nyc.gov/html/mail/html/maildpr.html