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Private Kids Tennis Club Joins Growing List of Gowanus Sports Venues

By Leslie Albrecht | September 17, 2014 12:34pm
  Court 16, a private tennis club for kids, is just one of many Gowanus spots for sports.
Tennis Club Joins Growing List of Gowanus Venues for Sports and Games
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GOWANUS — Budding Roger Federers will soon have a place to perfect their backhand.

Court 16, a private tennis club for kids, opens Sept. 22 at 526 Baltic St. off Third Avenue — the latest example of a growing number of sports-oriented businesses being drawn to the family-filled area with spacious industrial buildings. 

The 15,000-square-foot facility — the first indoor club in the country with special kid-sized courts, according to its founder — is located just blocks from venues offering space for archery, skateboarding, shuffleboard, rock climbing, CrossFit and canoeing.

"We wanted to create a new way to experience the sport of tennis," said founder Anthony Evrard, a former NCAA Division I tennis player. "It's not a traditional tennis club where you have junior programs — everything that we do is for that age group."

Evrard said he looked at about 45 spaces over a year and a half before settling on a former warehouse for his tennis club.

Gowanus is an ideal location because it's near two family-oriented neighborhoods, Park Slope and Carroll Gardens, Evrard said. It's also a growing hotspot for both kid and adult athletes, with the Brooklyn Fencing Center on Fourth and Hoyt streets and the South Brooklyn Weightlifting Club on Douglass Street.

"When you enter the marketplace with a new experience and you do it in Brooklyn, the standards are really, really high," Evrard said. "It's not easy to create something that's going to appeal to a 4 or 5 year-old, an 11-year-old and parents."



Evrard said he designed the entire tennis club to create a welcoming atmosphere for children. Even the bathroom sinks are set low enough for the club's target audience of 3 to 11-year-olds.

Evrard and his partners worked with two architects and carefully researched every aspect of Court 16's design, including what kind of lighting would make visitors feel good and which shade of yellow wall paint would give off "just the right amount of energy," Evrard said.

Membership of the club costs $500 a year per family. Members get discounts on classes, which include group and private instruction and lessons on tennis conditioning. The facility will also host tournaments.

At the Brooklyn Fencing Center, which was one of Gowanus' pioneers in the sports trend when it opened in 2004, membership has flourished thanks in part to an influx of "11-year-olds from Park Slope," said owner Rolando Balboa.

The 6,500-square-foot center trains beginners as well as athletes hoping to compete on national teams. It will be moving to a new, larger location (11,000 square feet) on Degraw Street soon, near the Brooklyn Boulders rock climbing facility.

South Brooklyn Weightlifting Club owner Paul Steinman said he moved his gym to Douglass Street in Gowanus because he needed a garage-style warehouse building that was in a commercial area, yet close to residential neighborhoods and transit. The club trains powerlifters and Olympic weightlifters of all skill levels and ages (members range from 14 to mid-60s). Nearly half his members are women.

Steinman said the neighborhood's varied sports facilities seem to complement each other, rather than compete. Rock climbers from Brooklyn Boulders and a bow hunter from Gotham Archery have worked out at his gym, and he and his wife have hit the courts at the Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club on Union Street.

"We've seen a lot of positive crossover," Steinman said. "I feel like we're part of a village rather than being unique sovereign camps."