Chapter 1. He adored tennis. He idolized it all out of proportion
February 1, 2012 10:04 AM   Subscribe

The Awl sends correspondent Ben Worcester to the newest tennis hotspot in Manhattan: The Vanderbilt Tennis Club in Grand Central.

Founded in 1965 as the Vanderbilt Athletic Club, the two court facility was owned and operated by Donald Trump from 1984 until its closure in 2009, to make way for a new Metro-North conductor lounge. According to The Municipal Art Society of New York, Lleyton Hewitt, Andy Murray, Martina Navratilova, Robby Ginepri, John McEnroe and the Williams sisters have all practiced on these courts. Prior to the tennis facilities the space was a CBS broadcast studio: the first episodes of “What’s My Line?” and Edward R. Murrow’s news program “See It Now,” including the groundbreaking series on Senator Joseph McCarthy, were broadcast from this space. Reportedly, CBS gave up the studio due to the rumble of the trains below. The MAS has a Flickr set of the space as a tennis club.

After completing the lounge there was sufficient space in the terminal so Metro-North issued a request for proposals for a sports facility to be developed on a new fourth and fifth floors. "We wanted to maintain a sports presence in Grand Central Terminal," says Marjorie Anders, a spokeswoman for Metro-North. "Personally, I think racquet ball or squash would have made more sense. But the people who came up with the money wanted a tennis court, so that's what we'll have." The rough but impressive space would have just enough room for one court and two practice alleys.

Newly completed, Gothamist has a photo tour of the new Vanderbilt Tennis Club, where prices range from $90-250 per hour during the day and which will be the only tennis club in the city equipped with on-court slow-motion video analysis.
posted by 2bucksplus (12 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
No lobs.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 10:11 AM on February 1, 2012

And no drop shots
posted by notreally at 10:17 AM on February 1, 2012

Seems "Very New York."

Costs a fortune. Great location. Named after a 19th-century industrialist. Not actually all that nice inside.
posted by schmod at 10:23 AM on February 1, 2012 [7 favorites]

Pretty cool. There are all kinds of anachronistic stuff like this. Like Susan Sarandon's ping-pong club.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:29 AM on February 1, 2012

I've played there (through a Living Social offer that cost me about 1/3 of the lowest price quoted in the article). It's actually roomier in there than it looks--lobs are definitely possible.

It is, however, very noisy. It's like playing tennis inside a tennis ball can.
posted by yellowcandy at 10:41 AM on February 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

I love when the City reveals little secrets like this.
posted by Capt. Renault at 11:01 AM on February 1, 2012

In terms of awesome things in Grand Central, this ranks behind the Oyster Bar.
posted by ultraviolet catastrophe at 11:04 AM on February 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm still waiting for the Astor Memorial Waterpark to be built beneath Penn Station.
posted by schmod at 11:25 AM on February 1, 2012

I've played there a few times. There isn't much space behind the baseline. Main feature for me was convenience; it is located within 3 minutes from work and I can hop the subway afterwards.

I do agree with ultraviolet re: the Oyster Bar though! The Campbell Apartment isn't bad either.
posted by noaccident at 12:16 PM on February 1, 2012

Geez, Trump rented the place for $90k a year. How does he pull that stuff off?
posted by smackfu at 12:46 PM on February 1, 2012

Geez, Trump rented the place for $90k a year. How does he pull that stuff off?

Rent control. (Seriously. It was a 20-year lease that ran at the same rate as a month-to-month tenancy for a decade more due to bureaucratic fumbling.) It was probably reasonable enough for '65 ... and probably better than holding the space vacant while they figured out what they wanted to do.
posted by dhartung at 2:49 PM on February 1, 2012

Uh, new to all y'all, maybe.
posted by thinkpiece at 4:51 PM on February 1, 2012

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