The RCTA was founded in 1984, initially as a lobbying group to oppose New York City Parks Department plans to pave over the public clay courts in Riverside Park, which, after decades of neglect, had significantly deteriorated: uneven, rutted, mostly sand with weeds growing everywhere, the ten courts had become all but unplayable. Nevertheless, a group of dedicated players, mostly senior citizens, whose knees, hips and ankles declined to play on hard courts, persuaded the City to keep the clay courts in exchange for a promise to pitch in to help with maintenance, as well as to raise funds in order to purchase some brooms, brushes and other necessary tools to improve the condition of the courts.

By 1990, the RCTA had grown large enough to undertake the transformation of the courts from the original brown-green clay to proper true red clay. Using a large corps of volunteers and hundreds of hours of work, over the course of two seasons, the RCTA laid the foundations for the present red-clay courts. In 1992, the RCTA hired a part-time groundskeeper, Patrick Weisel, and the following year a part-time manager, Mark McIntyre. The staff continued and eventually finished the full transformation to red clay courts. In 1995 and 1996, the staff designed and built an irrigation system using RCTA-member-raised funds.

With professional staff, the RCTA began to grow rapidly. Membership grew and fundraising increased, along with adult tournaments and ladder player participation. The RCTA moved beyond maintenance of the courts and began to manage the operations of the public facility for the City. Around this time the RCTA began to take responsibility for the surrounding parkland and began to offer free concerts to the public on a restored lawn along the Hudson River. Most importantly for the RCTA’s future, the organization began to develop youth programming. To accommodate the rapid growth of youth programming, the RCTA integrated a registration system into it’s website and database.

In 2003, launched a youth tennis long term plan created by Tim Mayotte and Clive Helfet. This plan imagined hiring a youth coordinator, and creation of youth tournaments, a high performance youth program and a summer camp, all of which eventually came to fruition.

In 2005, RCTA Joined forces with the RPC and created the Riverside Tennis Association, LLC.

Today the RCTA employees 5 full time staff, two part-time staff and oversees a cadre of dedicated volunteers to assist with court sign ups, fundraising, and gardening. In addition, the RCTA contracts with 4 or 5 independent teaching pros and over a dozen summer camp coaches, most of who grew up playing tennis in RCTA youth programs. With progressive programs, a larger staff, and a summer camp that attracts over 600 signups, wheelchair tennis and adaptive youth programs, today the RCTA has nearly 1,000 members and an annual budget that exceeds $600,000.

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