Everything you need to know to playing at the RCTA courts

How do I play?

These are public courts. Anyone can play here. It's free if you are a holder of current NYC Parks Dept season tennis permit. If not, you can buy a day pass for $15 at the tennis courts. Season permits are $100 for adults ($10 for juniors, $20 for seniors, 62 or over) and are available through the Parks Dept. website.

Do I need to be an RCTA member to play? What’s the difference between RCTA membership and a tennis permit?

You do not need to be an RCTA member to play on these public courts. RCTA membership alone does not allow you to play. A NYC Parks Season Tennis permit or day pass ($15, available at the courts) is all that's required. RCTA members, like anyone else, must have one of the two. RCTA membership is a $50 tax-deductible donation that goes to support the maintenance and operation of the the red clay public courts. RCTA membership is required for some organized programming such as group clinics, ladders, tournaments, cardio tennis, etc. It is not required for private lessons, reservations or walk-on play.

Do I need a reservation?

You do not need a reservation, although limited reservations are available on-line for a $15 fee. Most of the courts are assigned on a fist-come/first-serve basis for the next available hour. Two players must be present to sign for a court on weekends. One person can sign up during the week. The next available hour means the next open hour. It might be the next hour, or if that is full, it might two hours away.

Can I sign up in advance?

You cannot sign in advance unless the intervening hours are already filled up. For example, you cannot come in the morning and sign up for an evening court. In-person signups are always the next available hour.

How do I know when the courts are closed by rain?

Call the Hotline. 212-978-0277. The hotline is changed whenever conditions change. It is updated once the courts are closed by rain and again once we know when the courts will reopen. If you hear an old message, it means conditions are the same as the last time it was updated. You can also use the RCTA app or visit this website's COURT CONDITION page.

How do I make a reservation to play?

visit the New York City Park's website for details and to make a reservation. The rest of courts are assigned on a first-come/first serve basis for the next available spot only.

How long is the wait for a court?

It depends on many things. Time of year, day of week, time of day, weather, what's on TV, etc. There's no real pattern other than the obvious ones: Weekends are busier than weekdays. Weekday mornings are busier than weekday afternoons. Coolish days are busier than really hot ones. As a general rule, give yourself 45 minutes for a weekday court, and about an hour for a weekend one.

Do I have to wait there after I sign up?

No. Once you know what time your court assignment is you can go wherever you want. Just be back by 5 minutes after your assigned hour or you will lose your court.

Can I call the courts?

No. There is no phone at the tennis courts. The RCTA office has a phone, 212-870-3078 but it is a mile away from the facility and its occupants are in a windowless room with no knowledge of the a) the weather or b) the wait time at the courts.

Do you give lessons?

Yes, we offer both private and group lessons. Registration for both is on-line. Here for private lessons and here for groups.

Can I demo a racquet?

No, but you can borrow one. There are plenty of adult and children's racquets that you can use at no charge. If the attendant does not know you, he or she may ask for a driver's license or credit card to hold onto until you return the racquet.

Can I get balls? There are usually plenty of decent used balls lying around for use. Otherwise, you can usually buy a can, though supply often runs out.