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Tennis club opens its doors

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The West Side Tennis Club, a private organization that operates in Forest Hills, held an open house for the public Saturday, giving those interested a chance to explore the club’s numerous tennis courts, pool and famous stadium, which once was the home of the US Open.

“I was fascinated to see a stadium that I’d heard a lot about,” said Eri Nakamura, 34, of Forest Hills.

Donna Bernstein, a former professional tennis player who has been a member at the club since 1988, was one of the guides on the tour. She said the club has 38 courts on four different surfaces: grass, red clay, Har-Tru and DecoTurf. The different types of courts affect the speed of the play and the bounce of the ball.

The club also has a junior Olympic-sized pool and a kiddie pool, a pro shop and numerous places for refreshment including a restaurant, a lounge, a terrace bar and a snack stand near the pool. A small rose garden sits on the grounds as well.

“There’s so much going on,” Bernstein said. “You can be on the courts all the time.”

Bernstein, who once owned a tennis club of her own on Long Island, said the best part of being a tennis player at the club is that professional tennis players and amateurs often play together, and those who show up to play without a partner can find one at the club.

“You don’t find that at any tennis club,” she said.

The club sits in the shadow of its famous stadium, which was the home of the US Open from 1915 to 1977, hosted famous musical acts like The Beatles, Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix and acted as the setting for parts of the 2001 Wes Anderson film “The Royal Tenenbaums.” The stadium’s application for landmark status was rejected last month due to the dilapidated condition of the structure. In 2010, a proposal to sell the stadium to a developer to turn into condominiums was defeated by the members with voting power in a 123-123 decision, in effect a “no” by default.

Bernstein said the actual membership is around 800, although there are 18 types of membership, from non-playing members to memberships for couples and families to memberships for those who only use the pool. Memberships are often pricey, with a tennis-playing individual 31 years old and older paying around $4,500 a year, although initiation fees for all new members are reduced to $1,000 until June 30.

Capt. Chuck Haunss, a resident of Forest Hills, said he found the club impressive and said it seemed like a nice facility for families.

“It was very informative,” Haunss said. “I got to see a lot of things that I never knew existed here.”

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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