2006 Public park of the year: Billie Jean King National Tennis Center
How would you like to play your softball championship at Yankee Stadium, or a pickup basketball game in Madison Square Garden? Well that, says Bill Mountford, is exactly what it’s like when you play tennis at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, N.Y., the home of the US Open.
“Anybody can play on the same courts that the top pros play on,” says Mountford, the director of tennis. That’s because the NTC is the country’s ultimate public park. And it has an amazing array of junior, adult, senior, wheelchair, and special populations programs, clinics, lessons, leagues, teams, Cardio Tennis, and tournaments (including, last spring, the 80th National Public Parks Tennis Championships, which drew over 1,200 players).
All of this is why the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center is RSI’s 2006 Public Park of the Year.
The NTC currently has 20 field courts and nine bubbled indoor courts. A new indoor facility, featuring 12 courts, is scheduled to be completed in 2008. There are 15 teaching pros on staff year-round — more during spring and summer.
“It’s so fitting that the world’s largest public tennis facility be named in honor of Billie Jean King,” says Marcia Bach, the park and recreation tennis coordinator for the USTA.
“We have a program for every class of player,” says Danny Zausner, the USTA’s managing director of facility operations. “During 11 months of the year, there is an overwhelming amount of activity here that is all public.”
USTA BJK NTC’s tips for success
- Compliment profusely. Make sure to offer seven encouraging comments for every one constructive criticism.
- Be concise. Strive to get your message across quickly and precisely. Too much talking means students hit fewer balls.
- Choose your spots wisely to offer advice. Wait for patterns to emerge before trying to correct students, as opposed to offering input after every single mistake.
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About the Author
Peter Francesconi is editorial director of RSI magazine.