Queens tennis players lament loss of Long Island City’s Tennisport

July 19, 2009 at 4:44 pm Leave a comment

Finding “love” in Queens is getting harder.

The closing of Tennisport, a private club in Long Island City, on July 31 will make the already difficult task of finding court time in Queens even more tricky.

This is the latest of a steady decline of tennis venues in the borough – a sad irony for the home of the U.S. Open, one of four Grand Slam events in the world.

If the city doesn’t intervene, tennis aficionados could be facing a “love” match in their search for playing time, advocates said.

“There is always a decent-sized playing population in New York, especially because we host the U.S. Open here,” said Justin Hogh, owner of the Knickerbocker Sports Academy, which has used the Tennisport. “But there is certainly a lack of clubs.”

Because many public courts are crowded and not open year-round, organized tennis suffers when a private club like Tennisport closes, Hogh said.

Andrea Botur, president of the ill-fated 35-year-old club, said the closure will “have an impact on the community.”

“In the parks, court time is seasonal,” Botur said. “And you have to wait in line.”

In the past decade, at least five private clubs in the city – including some in Queens – have closed, Hogh said.

“For the most part, real estate becomes a little bit too prime for property owners to run tennis courts where they can build condominiums instead,” Hogh said.

Tennisport is housed on city property and will be forced to close its doors to make way for a $175 million development that includes 5,000 units of middle-income housing and a high school.

The club has 500 members, but is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays and allows leagues in its 24-court facility just about every evening.

For Pam Glick, treasurer at Metrotennis Community Tennis Association, Tennisport’s closing is a potential scheduling disaster.

Metrotennis runs the city’s U.S. Tennis Association leagues, as well as corporate and instructional leagues – all out of private clubs.

“Tennisport isn’t just a fancy private club,” Glick said. “If we didn’t have the private clubs, we wouldn’t have any USTA leagues in the city.”

There are plenty of public courts, said Glick, but booking several every night is impossible.

“The parks system isn’t available to us,” she said.

Glick does business with almost every private club in the city. In fact, as soon as a new one opens, she jumps to make a deal.

“The clubs are closing faster than they’re opening,” she said.

Hogh has used Tennisport’s courts most nights for his academy’s teams.

When he learned of the club’s fate, “I was a little frantic because we didn’t have a place to go,” he said.

But this isn’t new territory for him. “We’ve been pushed out of a few places,” he said. His leagues will move to the West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills next month.

Catherine Murray, a 15-year member at Tennisport, is now calculating her own next move. Tennisport provided year-round court time for Murray, and set her up with opponents at her level.

“Those things are hard to find on public courts because of the limited availability of court time at peak times,” Murray said.

With courts so few and far between, Glick wonders why the city wants Tennisport’s land.

“You’re not tearing down an eyesore,” Glick said. “You’re taking down tennis courts. Isn’t this an asset to the neighborhood?”

‘The clubs are closing faster than they’re opening’
BY Leigh Remizowski


Entry filed under: Go Coastal, Public Waterfront, Queens. Tags: , , .

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