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City Effort to Strangle Tennis Scene Is Working

circa 1880:  Women playing tennis in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, New York.  (Photo by Three Lions/Getty Images) The good old days.

Earlier this year the Parks Department jacked the price of a season-long public-court tennis permit from $100 up to $200, and the results of the change are in: A lot fewer people are playing tennis.

City officials had estimated that the large fee increase would only knock 5 percent off the total number of permits sold, but in fact, according to the Parks Department's Vickie Karp, sales this year dropped by roughly 40 percent, from 12,416 to an estimated 7,500. Sales of day passes, whose price rose from $7 to $15, fell 20 percent. Overall tennis revenues rose $300,000 — but that figure is still 30 percent lower than what they'd projected. Overall, since 2002 — when the city raised its permit price from $50 to $100 — the number of tennis season passes sold in the city has been cut by more than half.

There is, perhaps, one bright spot here for the city's die-hard tennis community. “We’re all mad,” said Celia Imrey, a regular on the Central Park Courts, “but I do play more often now to justify the cost.”

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Photo: Three Lions