Serving Up the Past and the Future at Orange Lawn

from NYTs

Bruce Schonbraun is an avid collector of tennis memorabilia. He owns hundreds of antique rackets and old tournament programs. Recently, he added to his collection an entire tennis club, the faded gem Orange Lawn, once one of the most prominent sites on the international tennis tour.

The club, which sits on a hill just 20 miles west of Manhattan, is not a memento to admire on a shelf. For Schonbraun, it is a multimillion-dollar reclamation project that he wants to use to revitalize grass-court tennis in the Eastern United States.

Schonbraun is a tennis-obsessed real estate developer who grew up hitting balls over chain-link nets on the public courts of Jersey City. He heads a group that recently purchased the 138-year-old Orange Lawn Tennis Club in an ambitious plan to restore it to its former glory.

“This is a passion play,” he said. “It’s about restoring one of the finest tennis clubs in the country to its old grandeur, and we hope to bring in a tournament sooner rather than later.”

That won’t be easy, given that club memberships of the sort Orange Lawn offers have been trending downward and pro tennis tours have become much more internationally focused than they were in Orange Lawn’s heyday. A small amateur tournament might be a better fit.

More here.

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3 Comments

  1. Honestly, I am not sure what attracted me to this article. Though I am not displeased that I read it. I never knew that a such thing as grass-court tennis existed. If anything my mind is a little blown. How would one even play grass-court tennis? Does it have the same rules as regular tennis? Does the ball bounce as it does on a concrete platform? Do the players even hit the ball to the ground? Why is it on grass? This article has caused me to ask many questions that I had not originally thought that I would ask or want to know. The topic and idea of grass-court tennis has intrigued me.
    Another question that comes to mind is why did they switch from grass to clay? What reason did they have to do this? Was it because the ball hit the clay better than the grass? Meaning: Did it bounce higher or better on clay rather than grass?
    How does Bruce Schonbraun plan to get people to attend his newly acquired tennis court? Especially as memberships have decreased over time due to others choosing to spend their time elsewhere. How does Bruce plan to incentivize people to attend his club other than with the one pro that he has paid to give lessons and play on the fields? In all honesty, I am curious to see what happens with this club. I am also intrigued to watch a real live battle of tennis on grass rather than clay or concrete. I want to see how it is played and what happens to the ball as it is hit from side to side. This article left me unsatisfied because it left me with so many questions. I will look forward to this plan being executed, and maybe one day I will get to see a match of grass-court tennis played.
    In the article there is also talk about the court, its location and what it looks like. I wonder if it is really worth all the money on repairs for this club. Especially if there is no guarantee that anyone will attend the club or acquire a membership for the club. On top of that the article mentions how tennis is more targeted internationally now-a-days rather than nationally. Which again begs the questions: Is it worth it to continue with this endeavor whether one is a tennis fanatic or not?

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  3. It is good to know that a tennis court with such good memories of historic moments will be purchased by someone who is willing to restore it to what it used to be. Tennis is a good sport and there are so many people who like this game and since Orange Lawn used to be a place where seasoned tennis players used to play tennis, Mr. Schonbraun’s vision of renovating and returning this tennis club to its former glory is certainly visionary. It is also interesting to note that this tennis club used to be a grass court considering grass courts are no longer as common as they used to be. I think there is a little bit of cushioning from a grass court as compared to a hard court and to have this option will be such a good addition. The game of tennis is very interesting and a form of good exercise for those who like this game. There are a lot of world class players and some up and coming ones who people would like to pay to watch them play. I think Mr. Schonbraun saw Orange Lawn as a good business venture and that is why he purchased it. Most ages can play tennis and this place will be a good resource for them. It is also not gender biased. The pictures in the article shows that this is actually still in a very good condition. The history that is associated with Orange Lawn makes it an attraction that once renovated and opened to the public would certainly gain a lot of members. Bringing lawn tennis back to the lawn is such a great idea and Orange Lawn will probably do just that!

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