Here are answers to many of the frequently asked questions about such topics as signing up to play, lessons, wait times, and more.
How do I play there? Do I need a permit?
These are public courts. Anyone can play here. It's free if you are a holder of current NYC Parks Dept season tennis permit. If not, you can buy a day pass for $15 at the tennis courts. Season permits are $200 for adults ($10 for kids, $20 for seniors) and are available through the Parks Dept. website at www.nycgovparks.org/permits/tennis-permits.
How much is membership?
Only $50.00 a year. It's tax-deductible and for a very good cause: beautiful, public red clay tennis courts.
How do I know when the courts are closed by rain?
Call the Hotline. 212-978-0277. The hotline is changed whenever conditions change. It is updated once the courts are closed by rain and again once we know when the courts will reopen. If you hear an old message, it means conditions are the same as the last time it was updated.
How do I make a reservation to play?
visit the New York City Park's secure website at https://www.nycgovparks.org/tennisreservation/ for details and signups). The rest of courts are assigned on a first-come/first serve basis for the next available spot only.
How long is the wait for a court?
It depends on many things. Time of year, day of week, time of day, weather, what's on TV, etc. There's no real pattern other than the obvious ones: Weekends are busier than weekdays. Weekday mornings are busier than weekday afternoons. Coolish days are busier than really hot ones. As a general rule, give yourself 45 minutes for a weekday court, and two hours for a weekend one.
Do I have to wait there after I sign up?
No. Once you know what time your court assignment is you can go wherever you want. Just be back by 5 minutes after your assigned hour or you will lose your court.
Can I call the courts?
No. There is no phone at the tennis courts. The RCTA office has a phone, 212-870-3078 but it is a mile away from the facility and its occupants are in a windowless room with no knowledge of the a) the weather or b) the wait time at the courts.
Do you give lessons?
Yes, we offer both private and group lessons. Registration for both is on-line. Here for private lessons and here for groups.
Can I demo a racquet?
No, but you can borrow one. There are plenty of adult and children's racquets that you can use at no charge. If the attendant does not know you, he or she may ask for a driver's license or credit card to hold onto until you return the racquet.
Can I get balls?
There are usually plenty of decent used balls lying around for use. Otherwise, you can buy a new can for $5.00.
Do you string racquets?
Froi Silva, the teaching pro strings racquets. It usually takes about 2 days. It's $25 per racquet including strings; $20 per racquet if you supply your own strings.
Are there showers, lockers, restrooms?
No. We just have two portable toilets. They are cleaned twice a week, Mondays & Fridays. Unfortunately, we are separated from the City's sewer system by the West Side Highway and have very limited facilities. However, we are in the middle of a capital campaign to build sustainable, solar-powered public compost toilets for the area. If you are unhappy about the current state of our facilities, you can donate to the Green Outlook by visiting (www.greenoutlook.info)
Where are the courts?
Riverside Park along the Hudson River near 97th Street on Manhattan's upper west side. They are hard to find because they are separated from the rest of the city by the West Side Highway. Consult our Map.
Is there parking?
Yes. There's free parking at the courts. Look at the Map to see how to drive to the courts. It's kind of tricky the first time.
Can I play more than one hour?
It depends. You can sign up for a second hour if, after 5 minutes after an hour, there is an unsigned for court. As John Relkin, the morning manager, puts it: you can't play twice until everyone else has played once. Also, doubles (defined, in the US, as 4 people) gets two hours.
How about getting on early? Can I get on early?
If there is an open court during the hour prior to your hour, you can get on early so long as you play less than 30 minutes. If you play more than 30 minutes, you will be assigned to that hour and can only play again as a repeater.