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Do the Tarrytowns Still Play Tennis?

While the old school courts may go, grand new courts are here in the first phase of a rehabbed Pierson Park. Is tennis on the up or the outs with our youth?

When I posted a bit that the TUFSD was considering digging up some of its old tennis courts and replacing them with astro-turf, there was some outcry in the comments.

  • Scott Croft: KEEP TENNIS in Tarrytown Schools! It is the one sport that you can do your whole life, from elementary school to old age. We don't need more playing fields.
  • ndr: ...we certainly don't have a shortage of playing fields, from what I can see. Please, don't even consider removing the tennis courts!

But are people really playing much tennis these days? There was certainly dissent when coveted train station parking space converted to tennis, but maybe commuters would be mad about any sport co-opting their parking space.

I wonder how many folks here even know there were courts to be razed at the school to begin with. The courts sit dilapidated tucked up the hill, up stairs in fact, behind the high school’s football fields and bus parking.

Superintendent Dr. Howard Smith explained that the four or so courts were once operable and maintained, but since the tornado came through the village some years back it caused damages the district has never been able to fix. Trees fell and the fencing was severely damaged; the courts, as courts do so quickly, grew cracks and had drainage issues and “was too hard to maintain.”

So there’s a flat area up there in a village often begging for more sports space. A Field Committee comprised of parents of sports players across many sports and one Board of Education member are looking into the overall situation of our often-depleted and overused playing fields in general and what this flat plot up the hill could become in particular.

We are talking a few years down the road, said Smith, meaning after his tenure ends. But he envisions that the space would serve predominantly as a soccer field with practice time access for football and lacrosse teams.

As far as tennis in the schools, there is only a boys’ team and it’s a hybrid JV and Varsity. They have been playing at Pierson Park courts and have obviously been supplanted for a while. But they are looking forward to the fancy upgrade to the new courts, though what kind of access they have remains to be seen.

There's been an unofficial relationship worked out with the village that the team used to play on the park courts, but Smith said now that these courts are "more high profile," they will have to work out those details again.

There is no tennis option for girls in the school. Smith said with so many other options for girls in the spring, he hasn't seen enough interest. Though he did say there’s one family now with girls in the system who want to play tennis. The school is trying to work out a place for them to play. 

Coincidentally, I just learned of a JAMF Drop Shots tennis team with kids hailing from all over Westchester County and practicing at the New Rochelle Racquet Club and Westchester Plaza Tennis Academy. Ages from 6 to 18 can play and compete at a local level and move on to vye in USTA Jr. Team Tennis national and regional tournaments.

Back here in the TUFSD, district often has to get creative, as do parents, as there are numerous sports teams our school does not offer, or only offers to one gender. Only girls have volleyball, field hockey, swimming, softball. Only boys have wrestling, football, tennis, ice hockey, baseball. Sports open to both include golf, soccer, track, lacrosse.

In Yonkers there has been the story lately of the boy who wants to play on the girls' volleyball team, but Smith said the gender divide of sports hasn't really been much of an issue here. When the occasional interest arises for a girl or boy to play on a team that doesn't exist for them, he said, "we'll merge with an existing program in the area."

For some sports, it's an issue of lack of infrastructure that demands a merger. The school has no pool, nor an ice rink obviously, so our district will often share rental fees with another district and pool funds for a rink at the Palisades Mall, Playland, and Elmsford, or the pool at the EF school.

Soccer is ever-growing in popularity, as is lacrosse, said Smith, and these sports are easier to accommodate, though even then, our fields can leave something to be desired.

There is that infamous soccer field getting fixed at last by the Toll Brothers developers, a site which Smith also sees as a possibility for students if they need it and can work out an arrangement with the village, though he doesn’t foresee that they will need to.

Meanwhile, the cost of tearing up the asphalt on these old courts and laying new turf is estimated at $50,000, which there isn’t a millimeter of room in the budget for even now at this early stage of budget-talks.

Which brings us to budget talks... Stay tuned.

Is tennis going out of favor? Do you play and will you teach your kids? Weigh in below.

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Lisa D'Abre October 24, 2012 at 04:19 PM
My son and I love to play tennis, it's the last sport I can actually play with him now that he is a teenager. We used the the town courts in Irvington but always at an insane time of day to avoid being asked for park passes. Looking forward to playing down the hill.
acroft October 24, 2012 at 05:28 PM
Tarrytowners do play tennis! When we moved here in 1996, the Pierson Park courts were in terrible condition and yet they were still jam packed with players. I got a job with the US Tennis Association (USTA) in 2009 and learned they offer grants and free technical advice for court construction. I contacted the Village on several occasions but they were not interested as they had the funding they needed. They did not want to build the new courts near the water again and chose the current location. Not ideal due to the train noise but we just have to be thankful that we finally have new courts! Regarding the school district, I was not aware that the high school still had old courts and will contact the School Board regarding our grant opportunities. Tennis is indeed growing - particularly due to the USTA’s emphasis on youth tennis (http://www.10andundertennis.com/). Learning the sport is easier than ever with kid-sized equipment (shortened racquets and foam or low compression tennis balls). Kids can now play in gymnasiums, on playgrounds or any flat black topped surfaced areas. In 2010, I presented to the TUFSD School Board. Both Morse and WI were supplied with 10 and Under tennis equipment and a special training was held for the physical education teachers. Now I will see what I can do about those old high school courts! If you have kids in the school district who are interested in playing tennis, please let the School Board know.
Scott kaplan October 24, 2012 at 06:31 PM
I heard the high school courts will cost 50,000 to bull doze and be turned into a field. I looked into repairing the courts and they will cost 100-120,000 to redo. If we could get a grant from Westchester Parks and the USTA, it may cost the same money to replace them as getting rid of them. Sounds like a smarter move to me.
Jeff Fisher October 25, 2012 at 03:30 PM
I play tennis at least 2X/week, and for years now have had to go outside the Village to find courts in playable condition -- so I welcome the new courts. As for the high school--maybe we have the wrong end of the stick. Maybe if there were good playable courts, there would be greater interest. I concur with the comments above about what a great lifelong sport tennis is.
Jason October 31, 2012 at 07:38 PM
I am so happy to hear that tennis is growing in Sleepy Hollow/Tarrytown. I have been on the varsity team since 7th grade and it is a great program. We may not be a dominating sport, but this new and increased interest might be what the sport needs in this town.

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