July 28, 2016 By Hannah Wulkan
The City Parks Foundation officially opened the newly renovated tennis courts in Astoria Park with a ribbon cutting ceremony Thursday morning.
Replacing the old and cracked courts that used to be in the same place are three brand new tennis courts. They are equipped with the same surface as is used just a few miles away at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center where the U.S. Open is played.
The new courts were funded by a $750,000 grant from the Thompson Family Foundation, a charitable organization begun by Wade Thompson, a tennis fan himself, who died in 2009.
The grant supports 10 years of upkeep for the courts, in addition to the refurbishing of the Leif Ericson Park courts in Brooklyn.
Marking the occasion, the ceremonial first ball was hit by former Wimbledon and U.S. Open champion Virginia Wade, though the courts were quickly taken over by children eager to play tennis after the ceremony ended.
The CPF offers free tennis lessons to about 5,000 to 6,000 kids throughout the city each summer, according to CPF Executive Director Heather Lubov. “It’s one of our most popular programs,” she said. “Kids can get out and have fun and learn for free at all levels.”
Mike Silverman, the Director of Sports for CPF, began the ceremony, jokingly asking the gathered kids if the courts looked a little bit different from the previous year.
He then introduced Alan Siegel from the Thompson Family Foundation, who spoke of watching children play on the courts last year. “I knew we needed to get you kids some nice courts to play on,” he said.
The ceremony was attended by Wade, Lubov, Silverman, Siegel, Queens Park Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski, Councilman Constantinides’ chief of staff Nick Roloson, many children participating in the program, and about 40 other members of the community.
Visit http://www.cityparksfoundation.org/sports/tennis/ for more information on participating in the free tennis program through CPF.