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Throggs Neck’s New York Tennis Club works on community outreach

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Most visitors New York Tennis Club on Harding Avenue come in from Manhattan, Westchester or even the west Bronx. But if the club’s management is successful, Throggs Neck and the northeast Bronx will be well represented on its courts in the near future.

The club has been holding events and reaching out to neighborhood groups in hopes of getting the surrounding community more involved in tennis.

Paul Fontana, director of adult programs at NYTC, spoke at the Throggs Neck Home Owners Association meeting on Tuesday, November 29, and the club hosted an open house on Sunday, December 11.

And Ajay Kumar, tennis director, has been reaching out to area schools to possibily set up after school programs at the club, or tennis clinics at the schools.

So far only Villa Maria Academy has begun participating in the classes at the club, while Holy Cross School in Soundview has been doing in-school tennis lessons.

Fontana and Kumar feel as they expose more area residents to tennis, they will become hooked.

“Once we get the word out, it will be really positive,” Fontana said. “It’s a unique thing. Not many neighborhoods have this opportunity.”

The club has six courts, which are enclosed in bubbles from October through May. The courts can be rented out individually. And both adults and children can sign up for group lessons.

The NYTC was founded in 1886 and is the city’s oldest tennis club. Until five years ago, it was entirely private, and still is during summer months when the bubbles are down. Its six courts are leased out by for-profit Advantage Tennis Clubs, which operates two other city clubs, during the fall and winter.

Fontana suggested that long-time neighborhood residents may still think of NYTC as a private club, even though it is now open to the public.

Court rentals start at $34 for an hour and the club offers tournaments for beginners.

The New York Junior Tennis League, sponsored in part by Councilman Jimmy Vacca, also operates out of the club.

Pat Caruso of Community Board 10 has been helping NYTC with its outreach, and agreed that not many Throggs Neck area residents know they have a full-service, commercial tennis club nearby.

“People pass by and see the club, but I don’t think anyone really knows anything about it,” he said. “It’s just like the Empire State Building. I think 90 percent of people from New York City have never been inside, even though they know it’s there. It’s that thing that’s in your own back yard that you never think to take advantage of.”

Caruso has approached the club about joining the Throggs Neck Merchants Association, and Fontana plans on becoming member.

Bob Kurz of the Schuyler Hill Civic Association has also invited Fontana to speak at an upcoming association meeting.

“People have lived in the neighborhood for 30-40 years don’t know its there,” he said. “But it’s an important thing to have in the community because it can bring people together.”

Bill Weisbrod can be reached via e-mail at wweisbrod@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3394. Follow him on Twitter @bweisbrod

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