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If you walked away from last summer’s pop-up US Open tennis courts at Pier 76 with a burning desire to improve your serve, you’re in luck — the time has come to purchase or renew your NYC Parks outdoor tennis permit.
“Our outdoor tennis courts are treasured recreational spaces in all five boroughs as they provide fun and healthy exercise in the sunshine,” said NYC Parks Acting Commissioner Liam Kavanagh in a press release. “Whether you’re playing singles, doubles, or learning to play for the first time, your tennis reservation is only a few clicks away online.”
The city’s tennis courts are open April 3 through November 20, and permits are required for play. Permits cost $100 per season for adults ages 18 to 61, with a 10% discount available for IDNYC members. Permits for adults over 62 are available for $20, and permits for children under 18 are $10 — although a recent article in the Wall Street Journal questions whether these charges are too high for lower income families. New permits and renewals can be purchased online but be aware — if you’ve decided to pursue tennis on a New Year’s resolution whim, permits take up to 3 weeks to arrive by mail and are not available for same-day online purchase.
The closest west side NYC Parks courts are uptown at Central Park at W93rd Street (where US Open stars have been occasionally known to practice!), Riverside Park at W96th Street (featuring clay courts!) and Riverside Park at George Washington Bridge. Most NYC courts are open from 8am to dusk, aside from Central Park where courts open at 7am, and Randall’s Island, where courts open at 6:30am and close at 11pm.
If you’re looking to get a head start on your tennis practice indoors, there’s always the Manhattan Plaza Racquet Club (450 W43rd Street bw 9/10th Avenues), where you can sign up for private and group pro lessons, play in weekend doubles clinics, participate in matchups arranged by MPRC, join a competitive singles league, or try their Saturday night tennis party, combining friendly competition and socializing complete with food and drink. Though the indoor tennis bubble experienced an unexpected deflation in November, the facility is back up and running, and has been known now and then to welcome celebrities to the court.
Where to Play Tennis with Your Permit on the West Side
Central Park Tennis Center — Central Park at W93rd Street
More details about Central Park Tennis Center.
Fort Washington Park Tennis Courts — Riverside Park at W119th Street
More details about Fort Washington Park Tennis Courts.
Oscar Hijuelos Courts — 96th Street Red Clay Courts
More details about Riverside Clay Tennis Association.
New York Tennis Ideas Without a Permit (but They Might Cost!)
Play in the 42nd Street Archway of Grand Central Terminal — Vanderbilt Tennis Club.
More details of the Vanderbilt Tennis Club.
Tennis Innovators — 500 8th Avenue (bw W35/36th St) & John Jay College
Tennis Innovators have courts on 8th Avenue (near Penn Station) and at John Jay College.
Free Courts at Hudson River Park
Yes, there are free courts in Hudson River Park from 6am until midnight every day. They are at Pier 40 (that’s Houston Street).
Denny Farrell Riverbank State Park — 679 Riverside Drive (near W138th Street)
This park and tennis courts are usually not too busy. Applications are not open yet for New York State Tennis Permits — but in 2021 there was a one-time $10 registration fee and then the annual charges were Senior Membership (Ages 62+) $3.00, (Ages 13-61) $15.00 plus a registration fee of $4.00 and (Ages 5-12) fee of $10.00 plus a $4.00 registration fee.
River Place — 650 W42nd Street overlooking Hudson River.
You have to rent an apartment at River Place to book one of these two courts overlooking the Hudson River. Studio apartments start at $3,250 per month. Another option is to make friends with a tennis-playing resident and be their +1.
Pier 76 — American Express popup courts
We’re hoping that these popup courts will be back at Pier 76 this summer in time for the US Open. Maybe they can even become a permanent fixture on the Hudson River Park pier.
So grab your racquet, lace up your trainers, and make sure to stretch — after all, New York is overdue for a Cinderella story like that of Marcus Willis, the tennis pro living in his parents’ basement who would — in a wild turn of events — go on to face Roger Federer at Wimbledon. Who’s up for taking on Nadal at the US Open this year?!