By Ben Fractenberg
MANHATTAN — Tennis players are accusing the city of committing a double fault.
New York City tennis enthusiasts are angry about proposed fee increases that would double their annual and single-play fees.
Under the a proposal put out by the Department of Parks and Recreation, yearly tennis fees would increase from $100 to $200 and hourly rates would jump from $7 to $15.
"They’re trying in the dead of winter to double the fees. They didn’t try very hard to publicize [the increase]," said Sean Hoess, 40, a spokesperson for a tennis group in the city. "A lot less people will play tennis and I think that’s a shame."
The Parks Department said the increases were necessary due to budget constraints.
"While we do not relish raising fees, the city finds itself in a severe fiscal crisis and all agencies are required to reduce spending and increase revenues," said Department of Parks and Recreation spokesperson Philip Abramson. "Tennis fees have been consistent for the past eight years and have not seen an increase since 2003."
Abramson stressed that tennis was not alone in fee hikes because of the difficult economic situation the city is in.
"Tennis is not being singled out, either — the fiscal crisis is requiring fee increases for recreation center memberships and ball fields," he said. "The increase in permit fees will go towards the city's general fund which helps pay for much needed services such as our teachers, police officers, sanitation services, as well as our parks, playgrounds, recreation centers, ball fields and tennis courts."
Under the proposed increases, use of baseball fields would jump from $8 to $12.50 an hour and basketball courts from $5 to $8 an hour. Membership for recreation centers without indoor pools would double from $50 to $100 a year for adults. Senior rates would go from $10 to $25, while the age to qualify as a senior will go from 55 to 62.
But some players still think the fee increase disproportionally affects tennis.
"They are looking for ways to raise revenue. They think tennis players can pay," said David Feuerman, 32, who plays in the Brian Watkins tennis courts in the Lower East Side. "It’s just not fair."
Feuerman went on to say he thought tennis enthusiasts would most likely be willing to shell out the extra bucks, but he worried it would create an obstacle for those interested in learning the game.
"It’s gonna keep out a lot of people," he said. "The tennis fanatics will buy it. The people who are casually playing the game won’t pay it."