Tennis academy where McEnroes trained in sale, lease deals

The Port Washington Tennis Academy, where iconic players Tracy Austin, Vitas Gerulaitis and John and Patrick McEnroe trained, is being sold and will be operated under a 25-year lease by Sportime Clubs LLC, which runs tennis facilities on Long Island and in Manhattan, Westchester and Schenectady.

Great Neck-based Hornig Capital Partners, whose real estate investments include office and residential projects on Long Island and in New York City and New Jersey, is acquiring the facility from the not-for-profit Port Washington Tennis Academy Inc.

The sale, whose financial terms were not disclosed, is expected to close by the end of the year or early 2023, pending approval by the New York state attorney general’s office, which oversees not-for-profits.

In a 2020 government filing, the most recent available, Port Washington Tennis Academy reported a deficit of $377,104.

The Port Washington Tennis Academy’s 17 indoor tennis courts make it the largest such facility on Long Island, said Claude Okin, president and chief executive of Sportime Clubs, based in Kings Park.

Daren W. Hornig, managing partner of Hornig Capital Partners, said $5 million to $7 million would be invested in the Port Washington facility, including computer systems, roof repairs and air conditioning equipment. Those renovations are expected to be completed by September 2023.

“The inside is going to be modernized and refreshed,” he said.

Port Washington Tennis Academy, which trained John and Patrick McEnroe, Vitas Gerulaitis and Mary Carillo, has been sold and will be operated under a 25-year lease by Long Island-based Sportime Clubs LLC. Credit: Ken Schachter

The acquisition comes at a time when tennis is seeing a renaissance, at least partly as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Okin said.

“There’s a tennis boom like we haven’t seen since the late ’60s and ’70s,” he said.

The sport’s spacing affords players social contact even as they maintain social distancing, said Okin. “Tennis is a way to be in person with other players.”

Sportime began operating the Port Washington facility in July, in anticipation of the deal’s closing. Sportime now operates 18 entities overall, including volleyball, summer camp and multisport facilities as well as its core tennis clubs, the John McEnroe Tennis Academy and its charitable arm, The Johnny Mac Tennis Project Inc.

The McEnroe Tennis Academy, which operates at Sportime Randall’s Island and other facilities, is scheduled to launch at the Port Washington facility once renovations are complete.

The Johnny Mac Tennis Project Inc., overseen by John and Patrick McEnroe and supported by Sportime, will also operate at the Port Washington facility in addition to its home at Randall’s Island. The 10-year-old not-for-profit, which provides tennis scholarships and lessons, defines its mission as “removing the racial, economic and social barriers to success through tennis.”

Okin said that between travel, coaching and fitness regimens it can cost $50,000 per year to develop a top-tier tennis player from the age of 10 or 11.

Renovations at the Port Washington facility will include the addition of eight new courts for pickleball, which Okin described as the “fastest growing sport in the world.”

Pickleball is played with paddles on a 44- by 20-foot court compared to the 78- by 36-foot dimensions of a tennis court. Pickleball players hit a plastic ball with holes, not unlike a Wiffle ball, across a net.

The head count at closely held Sportime, billed as the largest operator of sports and tennis clubs in New York State, varies between 500 and 900 full- and part-time employees, depending on the season, Okin said.

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