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Williamsburg resident Sean Hoess has been playing tennis on McCarren Park’s popular courts for the past seven years.On awarm fall weekend, the courts could often be occupied for several hours.
That overuse, combined with several years of neglect from the city Parks Department, likely contributed to cracks in the asphalt, fraying nets, and other signs of decay. According to a Parks Department spokesman, the courts haven’t been resurfaced in the last 25 years, and there haven’t been funds allocated for more extensive work on the courts, such as replacing asphalt and repainting.
“The McCarren courts are packed with players every day, and people’s frustration at the poor conditions suddenly boiled over,” said Hoess.“Brooklyn tennis players are a tough bunch, but these courts are worn to the asphalt and the nets have holes.There’s broad-based support throughout the Williamsburg and Greenpoint communities to fix this.”
And a commitment beyond the complaints.Hoess and several friends banded together to form a new organization, McCarren Tennis, to tackle the challenge of raising money to restore seven courts (Bedford Avenue and North 13th Street).
In less than a month, the organization, with eight members and counting, has prepared architectural plans for a redesign and, with the help of the Open Space Alliance, are launching a two-day tennis tournament on October 10 and 11.One hundred percent of the proceeds will be used toward resurfacing existing courts, buying new nets and poles, and wrap the fences in windscreens next spring, which in total would cost an estimated $80,000 to restore.
“I am stunned and delighted.They completely sold out their tournament in a less than a week and they have a waiting list. I am encouraging them to host another tennis court fundraiser in November,” said Stephanie Thayer, OSA Executive Director and North Brooklyn Parks Administrator.
The tournament, named the Williamsburg Open, will include 64 players who will compete in a two-day bracketed tournament split into an A and B group based on skill level.Each match will last one set (six games) with a tiebreaker.The first, second and third rounds will be played on the first day and the second day will feature the quarterfinals, semis and final rounds.
According to Hoess, walk-in registrants will be accepted, and tennis fans are encouraged to attend the matches and a fundraiser party held Saturday night on the courts themselves, featuring sets from the DJ collective, Ohio Party.
So far, the tournament has raised about $2,400, though McCarren Tennis’ goal is to bring in $5,000. It will cost an estimated $80,000 to resurface.
With the support of local businesses such as A&G Merch, Amtec, Artists and Fleas, Beacon’s Closet, Berry Park, Brooklyn Star, Dandelion Wines, Fred Flaer, Insound.com, Le Jolie Hotel, MINE metal/art, Mini Jake, Miranda, Oslo Coffee, Pete’s Candy Store, Spoonbill, Sugartown, The Brooklyn Star, and Upscale Lighting, and from tickets bought at the fundraiser, Hoess and other McCarren Tennis members are confident they can meet their match.
“Obviously it is highly needed,” said Thayer. “It bodes well for getting these improvements done. We still need to raise a lot more money even to resurface existing courts but this is a tremendous way to start.”
The Williamsburg Open will take place on October 10 and 11 from 8 a.m. until dusk and an on-court fundraising party featuring Ohio Party will take place on Saturday, October 10 from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.For more information, visit http://www.mccarrentennis.org.
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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