1. At night, overhead lights illuminate the action on eighteen gorgeous Har-Tru courts, providing players at the East River Tennis Club with an unobstructed view of the Manhattan skyline, including the Empire State and Chrysler Buildings. And if that’s not enough of a draw, Doubbles, the club’s outdoor bar and grill, serves seafood on the waterfront. The view, the courts, the dining—plus an exercise facility and outdoor pool? Game, set, match East River.
• 44-02 Vernon Blvd., 718-937-2381; memberships vary, but are approximately $3,000 per year.
2. Looking to pick up some singles matches? Check out TennisTip.com, who provide a free Find a Partner Service for New York, so you don’t have to be stuck with the same obnoxious showboater week after week. You fill out a form with your ability level, age, and where you’d like to play, and then you can search the site for similar players. It can feel a little like a blind dating service (If I wear a skirt, will it look like I’m trying too hard?), but unlike a real date, if it’s not going well you don’t have to talk to the person, and it’s completely acceptable to punch volleys directly at his head.
3. As any tennis-loving tourist will attest, New York hotels rarely feature on-site tennis courts. Luckily, the Millennium UN Plaza Hotel offers accommodations where guests can stay and play. Located on the 39th Floor, the Millennium’s single hard-court is free to hotel guests and open to others for a fee. Though court time in Central Park would be cheaper than the rates at this luxury hotel (which start at around $75), the convenience is unbeatable—tennis anyone?
• 1 United Nations Plaza, 44th St. between First and Second Aves.; 212-758-1234 or 866-866-8086, millenniumhotels.com
4. With a panoramic view of the New Jersey shoreline and the George Washington Bridge, the public courts at Riverside Park are a winning combination of atmosphere, affordability, and quality. Riverside’s 10 red-clay courts are well-groomed, situated alongside the Hudson River, and enclosed by wind-screened fences, making them a hot commodity during the summer months. But before beating a path to the West side, remember that these courts, like all park courts, require a seasonal permit from the NYC Department of Parks. Tennis season runs from the first Saturday in April to the third Sunday of November, and permits cost $10 for juniors, $20 for senior citizens, and $100 for adults; $7 single-play tickets are also available. To get a permit, head to either The Arsenal (830 Fifth Ave. at 64th St.) Monday-Friday, from 9am-5pm, or Central Park Tennis Courts (Midpark near 96th St.); or call 212-360-8133.
• Riverside Park, at 96th St.; 311, rcta.info
5. For the eleven months of the year during which the USTA National Tennis Center is not used for USTA-sanctioned events (including the U.S. Open), the 33 outdoor and 9 indoor courts are open for public use. For $17-$51 an hour, players can hit on the Tennis Center’s outlying courts where rising stars and juniors play during the Open (Arthur Ashe and Louis Armstrong Stadiums and the Grandstand Courts are not available). In addition to open court time, players also head to the Center for adults training programs ($72-$300), junior training camps ($80-$200), tournament training camps ($220-$275), adult training camps ($295), and private lessons ($80-$90)—all of which are run by the USTA’s professional teaching staff. To reserve court time or sign up for a clinic, call 718-760-6200; no membership required.
• Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, Flushing Meadows, Queens; 718-760-6200, usta.com