It's mid-season, and chances are you've already run through a summer's worth of invitations to the boss's tennis court in Greenwich. But don't stoop to making friendships based on real estate. Instead, play it like the rich, with new (if off-price) equipment, free (if public) courts, and your very own fab white duds -- all for less than the cost of a decent house gift.
Start at Powers Court for racquets, string (200 kinds, from $15 for synthetic gut), accessories, and basic women's clothing. Wilson and Prince racquets are stocked; others can be ordered (at about 30 percent off list); old demos are $40 to $75. Clothes are all half off, from $5 to $50. Tennis sneakers are $69 to $89, with some as low as $5.
Mason's Tennis Mart sells most fancy designer clothes at list price. But women will find surprising deals in the sale section. Right now, there's a ton of half-price Adidas, Ellesse, Prince, and Quantam (from $28 for tops to $125 for warm-up suits). During the U.S. Open, all clothing goes on sale.
No luck in the city? Outlet centers, on popular weekend travel routes, are a good bet, especially for men's things, which can be tough to find. Try Central Valley's Woodbury Common Premium Outlets or Riverhead's Tanger Outlet Centers for Adidas, Fila, Nike, and Reebok. Most prices are 40 to 60 percent off.
Now, don't blow those savings on court fees. Everyone knows about the free Central Park Tennis Courts, but few realize that investing $50 in a seasonal membership (valid April through November) lets you buy $5 court reservation tickets to eliminate waiting. Pick up these and your membership card at the Central Park Arsenal or at Paragon Sports; then ring for a court whenever you wish.
Powers Court, 132 1/2 W. 24th St. (691-3888); Mason's Tennis Mart, 911 Seventh Ave., near 58th St. (757-5374); Woodbury Common Premium Outlets, New York State Thruway Exit 16, Harriman (914-928-4000); Tanger Outlet Centers, Long Island Expressway Exit 73, Riverhead (516-369-2732); Central Park Tennis, the Arsenal, Fifth Ave. at 64th St. (360-8133); Paragon Sporting Goods, 867 Broadway, at 18th St. (255-8036).
Picks of the Week
Scoop is shaving 35-75 percent off tons of warm-weather styles from Theory, Anna Sui, Chaiken & Capone, Daryl K, Katayone Adeli, Tocca, and others. Prices are $19 to $99. Sizes 2-10. 532 Broadway, near Spring St., tenth floor; A.E., M.C., V.; Tues.-Sun. 10-7; 7/13-
Olive and Bette's is putting tons of trendy clothes from designers like Bisou Bisou, Diane von Furstenberg, Three Dots, and Juicy Couture on sale for 30 percent off, from $30-$80. 155 W. 72nd St., Suite 406 (712-9761); A.E., M.C., V.; Thurs. 8:30-7:30; 7/15.
Petit Elephant, Halabaloo, and Her Royal Highness are clearing high-end casual knits (for boys and girls) and classic party frocks at 50-80 percent off, from $5-$50. Sizes 6 months-8 years. William Calvert Showroom, 29 W. 57th St., fourth floor (888-8828); cash only; Thurs.-Fri. 10-3; 7/15-7/16.
Me & Ro's sleek silver and ten-karat-gold jewelry, sold at Barneys and seen on stars like Julia Roberts, is up to 75 percent off at the sample sale: earrings are $40-$150, necklaces are $20-$500, and bracelets are $40-$300. 270 Lafayette St., Suite 905 (431-8744): M.C., V.; Wed.- Thurs. noon-7; 7/14-7/15.
ALWAYS A DEAL
Bag the Beach
Everyone knows there are few good deals in the Hamptons -- and it's dumb to squander beach time shopping. But when you get that irresistible urge to buy cheap, stock up on Sylvester & Co.'s $18 raffia totes. The Madagascan beach bags come in bright solids and plaids, all with natural-leather trim. Since their introduction early this summer, the bags have sold out every weekend (thankfully, more keep coming). And if you can't make the trek, Sylvester will ship you one for an extra $4.90. Main Street, Sag Harbor (516-725-5012).