Playing Tennis in NYC Central Park 
by Koko Lani (TennisNYC League Director)



TennisNYC league members play everywhere in NYC ie Central Park, Red Clay courts and all the other hard courts in Manhattan including New Jersey!!! Come out, play tennis with us and ENJOY THE GAME and GET A GREAT EXERCISE and MEET SUCCESSFUL FRIENDLY PLAYERS!!! We accept advanced beginners, intermediates and advanced tennis players!!!



Lad Decenteceo (photo above, foreground), a regular tennis player in NYC, waiting in line for his name to be called from several pages of names of tennis players on the waiting list.  Every weekend in NYC Central Park Tennis Center, there is always a very long NO SHOW list.  I mean pages upon pages of names waiting for a court.  In order to get a court, you need to go to Central Park very early in the morning, at around 6am, and book a court, otherwise, like most New Yorkers would say, FORGETABOUTIT!!! If you are a new player in NYC, the TennisNYC league will guide you and your partner/s in going through the maze of signing up and getting a court in Central Park.


Tennis Tip # 2: The best time to play in NYC Central Park Tennis Center is around mid-day, Monday to Friday, until 5pm.  At around that time, you will find most of the regular players in Central Park (whose level is between intermediate to advance) just hanging out, looking for a game.  In addition, you can also play for more than an hour of tennis between noon until 5pm, because there will be enough courts for everyone (there are 26 clay courts in Central Park).  In order to play for more than an hour, just tell the person at the sign up booth that you are repeating and show him/her your tennis permit.


Tennis Tip #3: Tennis players are no longer required to brush the tennis courts after playing. The management changed its policy few years ago.  NYC Central Park employees brush the courts at least three times each day (early morning, mid-day and late afternoon after closing).


Tennis Tip # 4: Looking for a tennis partner that matches your tennis skills is the most difficult part of the game.  If you are an advanced player (4.5 and above), the process of finding the right partner becomes even more difficult.  Here's a piece of advice.  When booking for a court in Central Park Tennis Center, sign up for court # 7 (center court - the show court). Don't be afraid to showcase your tennis talent in front of hundreds of NYC tennis players.  Once tennis players see that your game is really good, they will start watching you. Right after your match, don't be surprised if NYC players approach you and get your phone number.


Tennis Tip # 5: Tennis is a fun and social game.  Unless you are aspiring to be a part of the PRO circuit, you shouldn't be too serious.  Tennis is a good way to meet new friends and build lasting relationships.  So next time you play the game, just lighten up, take it easy and take time to smile.  


Tennis Tip # 6: Do you know how to get the best bargain at the US OPEN Tournament every year?  If you are planning to buy some souvenir tennis items i.e. shirts, hats etc. at the US OPEN, wait until the very last day of the tournament.  According to Haydee, a regular Central Park Tennis player who worked at the US OPEN last year, all the items will be sold at half price on the second Sunday of the tournament right after the last match and also the next day, Monday, when the tournament is over.


Tennis Tip #7: Cheating can be a problem in a tennis tournament especially when there is an absence of a lines person or an umpire.  Many times, tennis players in Central Park Tennis Tournament complain about cheating.  There are a few seasoned tennis tournament players in Central Park whose reputation is tainted by too much cheating.  The best way to handle an opponent who cheats is to stay calm, stay focused and politely ask for the mark where the ball in question landed.  You are playing on clay, remember? If the problem is not resolved, you have the right to call the tournament director and politely explain the situation.  At that point, the Tournament Director will make a decision and will even act as a linesperson.  However, always remember that Central Park Tournament is just a small amateur tournament and that you are not playing for a big sum of money.  Use the tournament to assess your skills, level of game, build friendship and have fun.

Tennis Tip #8

Mr. Al Drowyn (photo above), tennis racquet stringer in Central Park who has been stringing racquets for 10 years, has a valuable advice to all tennis players.  He said, "If you are a recreational tennis player who plays at least once a week, you need to restring your racquet every 2 or 3 months. The calcium in clay courts dries out your strings thereby making your racquet less playable.  It's like playing with a board.  During winter season, if you don't restring your racquet on a regular basis, it will make it less resilient, thereby less playable."


Tennis Tip #9: What is your level? How do you rate your tennis game? Are you a 4.5, 3.5? Are you a beginner, intermediate or advanced player? These questions take a very special meaning when you are looking for a tennis partner.  In Central Park, you will find tennis players of all ages and level of tennis game.  However, more often than not, tennis players in Central Park usually rate themselves higher than their actual tennis game.  A player who rates himself or herself as a 5.0 player may actually be a 3.5 in reality. The best way to assess your partner's level is to actually play with him or her, hit with him/her for a few minutes.  When a Central Park tennis player tells you the level of their tennis game, it is best to remain skeptical until you have actually hit with him/her or have seen him/her play.    


TENNIS TIP #10: It's very condescending when a self- rated intermediate tennis player snobs a beginner and proudly announces that he/she will not play with a player below her level.  While it is true that it can be frustrating at times to hit with a beginner or a player much above someone's level, it is equally true that every tennis player can learn something from one another.  There are hundreds if not thousands of kinds of tennis shots and for a player to think that he/she already knows everything is sadly mistaken.  In addition, ratings is a very dynamic or fluid number.  Ratings can go up or down depending on many factors i.e. player's health, conditioning, age, motivation etc.  A beginner who is motivated, athletic and has talent can easily catch up in a few months and can actually become an intermediate and possibly beat the person who snobs him/her in the past.  So watch out, before you even say "NO, I will not play with you because you are a beginner" to someone, please remember that someday, you might just eat your own words.


(Photo L-R) TennisNYC.com members, Fred Roman and Ramesh Parameswar in Central Park after their singles match.  Can you tell the winner and the loser of their tennis match based on the photo (L)? No way!!! Both players were very happy because they got a great work out in Central Park playing a sport that they love.  Winning or losing should not be the ultimate goal in a tennis match.  It should be building friendships, connecting with other people of different backgrounds and culture, getting a good workout and staying active to improve physical and mental health.  Next time you play a match, compete but don't take it too seriously.  Winning is not everything..  TennisNYC.com tennis league tries to improve tennis skills of players and connect people of different backgrounds through the sport of tennis. Email me (Koko Lani) to join our league!



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