North Brooklyn tennis players are serving up a plan that could turn McCarren Park’s crumbling courts into a racquet sports Mecca.
The newly formed McCarren Tennis group is raising cash to renovate the courts and eventually build a Prospect Park-style tennis center near the border of Williamsburg and Greenpoint.
“There are huge cracks in the courts, there are holes in the nets, and the windscreens are falling down,” said tennis player Sean Hoess. “The courts have just decayed to the point where if we let it go any further, it’s going to be dangerous.”
The group — which just kicked off its fundraising drive — plans to rehab one of the shabby courts alongside Bedford Avenue over the winter. Once that refurbished court is open to the public, it will serve as a “showcase” that will help the group acquire the rest of the estimated $70,000 needed to fix up the other six courts, said Hoess.
To raise money for that renovation, McCarren Tennis will host the first Williamsburg Open (sure to one day be known as Wimblesburg), with a concert and on-court cash bar on Oct. 10 and a full day of games on Oct. 11.
But that’s just the first set in their match.
In a story first reported on Brownstoner, McCarren Tennis’ long-term plans call for annexing an adjacent asphalt lot that is currently used by a softball league and building 10 more courts, lighting fixtures, a clubhouse, a pro shop, and a gazebo — resulting in a “self-sustaining” tennis center boasting league play, lessons and tournaments.
Hoess told The Brooklyn Paper that those plans — which so far lack funding as well as necessary approvals from the city — are preliminary, and that his group wouldn’t push for replacing the softball field until the city constructs additional ballfields in the long-promised Bushwick Inlet Park.
Nonetheless, Greenpoint Softball League President Jimbo Sherman is skeptical of the tennis proposal.
“If they want to refurbish their court, all the power to them, but I just don’t want them to get to the point where they are going to rip out our field,” said Sherman, who explained that the aging asphalt is perfect for Sunday softball games because it dries quickly after rainfall.
The plan to raise money to rehabilitate the existing seven tennis courts has won the support of the Open Space Alliance, a group that oversees Williamsburg and Greenpoint parkland.
“They certainly need improvements,” said Stephanie Thayer, widely known as the Tupper Thomas of North Brooklyn.
Legendary Greenpoint tennis player Miroslow Puck — known around the courts as “Coach” — told a Brooklyn Paper reporter he supports repaving the current courts, but considers the full-fledged tennis complex “a dream — but only a dream.”
— with Sabrina Jaszi
Concerts at the Williamsburg Open at McCarren Park Tennis Courts (Bedford Avenue between N. 12th and Lorimer streets in Greenpoint), Oct. 10, 7 pm; tennis tournament, Oct. 11. Registration: $40. Visit www.mccarrentennis.org for more info.