New Tennis Complex on the Way Reminds us of Tennis Courts (& Athletics) of the P
Journeys into Hackensack
The recent announcement (Februart, 2022) of the building of the largest indoor/outdoor RedClay Pro club in the U.S.had us thinking about tennis in Hackensack from an earlier time – specifically the Oritani Field Club. https://www.roi-nj.com/.../largest-u-s-redclay-tennis.../
The club was founded in 1887 by two local groups, the Pastime Lawn Tennis Club and the Hackensack Lawn Tennis Club. It was named for Oratam, the local Indian chief of the 17th century, and was originally located where the Hackensack YMCA now stands, on 10 acres that stretched from Main Street to the Hackensack River.
The club included a baseball field, boathouse and the first bowling lanes installed in Bergen County, though it now is primarily a tennis club.
The Field Club moved a few blocks south to its current site, on East Camden Street, in 1925, constructing a red-brick Colonial Revival building for its members.
"This place in the best-kept secret in Hackensack," said a member as the club was about to close in 2015. "This place has a special charm to it - it's different. Even though we have the noise, the fire engines, the police cars, we don't hear anything once we're here. We didn't want it to close. We're going to be saddened by it."
Events in the club's history are touchstones in Hackensack's history – including its founding mentioned above as well as that 1920 move from where the Y, itself about to close, took its place. At that time the Field Club stretched from Main Street to the river.
Other highlights of note in the story of the Oritani Field Club were the fact that Wimbledon and U.S. Open champion Arthur Ashe played on the tennis courts, and that Johnny Weissmuller, Olympic champion and a cinematic Tarzan, swam in its pool.
"This was a very formal country club in the middle of Hackensack," said Jackie Muhlstock, a member from Teaneck since 1968 told the Record shortly before its demolition. "If you were in the bar after 6 o'clock, they rang a bell, and you couldn't stay in your tennis clothes."
"It was also very family-oriented. There were lots and lots of kids," added Muhlstock. "The lifeguards used to have to blow the whistle for an adult swim. My kids used to spot pins in the old bowling alley. My three sons grew up here, and I grew up here. You have no idea how much this is breaking my heart."
The place was demolished in 2015 to make way for new apartments that have not too long ago opened where they was swam, socialized and played tennis.
But that is all in the past.
Looking to the future the new tennis complex is said to include “the largest indoor/outdoor RedClay Pro club in the U.S., featuring the new maintenance-free red clay court technology”.
A press release unveiling the project (site not detailed) asserts that what is being described as the largest-to-date RedClay tennis complex” is set to open in the summer/fall of 2022 in Hackensack.
The complex, the release states, will feature 14 “engineered” RedClay courts — eight indoor and six outdoor courts — “all being built with the 21st-century version of old Europe’s traditional red clay courts. The court technology is already the official court of the WTA Porsche Grand Prix Tennis event in Stuttgart, the world’s largest professional women’s tournament, and is now being built at clubs and homes across the U.S”. Additionally, the indoor structure will feature translucent roof panels for adding natural lighting. Main building structures will also feature state-of-the-art player amenities and lounging areas.” For more on the new building. https://www.roi-nj.com/.../largest-u-s-redclay-tennis.../
The news is exciting to many around town, providing Hackenasck to regain notoriety for tennis, much as it has recently down in figure skating and hockey by the presence of the Ice House near the Mid-Town Bridge.
Indeed, there seem to be signs of a new golden era in town. While one cannot but help think of how it once was in town (and what was lost), it is heartening to see that a new and brighter chapter is possible after decades of challenge for the heart of town and Bergen County.
So, get your racket, tennis shoes and perhaps a local brew ready so you can enjoy the new place - either as a participant or as a spectator.
For now here’s a toast to Red Clay USA as well as to the Oritani Field Club.
Source and Acknowledgement: NorthJersey.com and hackensacknow.org
Image Credit & Acknowledgement: North Jersey Media