Tennis is a great way to work out and have fun. While indoor courts and clubs allow for play all year round, nothing beats the feel of the sun and the breeze on you when playing outside during the summer. According to Giuliano Frappaolo, Tennis Liaison for Essex County Parks and Recreation, “Most of the tennis courts [in Essex County Parks] have been resurfaced in the past two to three years,” and all of the courts have a hard surface. Most courts are free and available on a first-come, first-served basis. If you have your racket and tennis balls ready to go and just need a court to play on, we’ve got you covered. So for the newbies, those getting back into the game, or those hoping to go pro, read on to find outdoor tennis courts in Essex County Parks, where you can channel your inner Serena or Rafael.
Branch Brook Park | Althea Gibson Tennis Courts| 173-235 Heller Parkway, Newark
18 tennis courts. Althea Gibson was ranked first in women’s tennis in the U.S. in 1957 and 1958, after winning Wimbledon and the U.S. Nationals in both years. She helped pave the way for African American tennis legends like Arthur Ashe and the Williams sisters. Branch Brook Park boasts 18 tennis courts named after Althea, whom the Associated Press chose as “Female Athlete of the Year” in 1957 and 1958.
Brookdale Park Tennis Center | Watchung Avenue, Bloomfield
Brookdale Park is an excellent local place to play tennis. It has 11 courts and all of them have been updated with new surfaces and nets this year. This is not one of the free options, though; the cost to play is $7 per person, per hour. Brookdale requires reservations, and you can reserve a court with the Elite Tennis Academy up to a week in advance by calling (973) 744-7060. Players must check in with the Brookdale Park Tennis Center and Elite Tennis Academy attendant inside the tennis building before playing. Please note that only cash and checks are accepted.
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Glenfield Park | Bloomfield Avenue + Maple Avenue, Montclair
The three tennis courts in this park were updated in 2019 and have the added benefit of night lights for those warm summer evenings when you’re itching to get outside. Players can stay and play until 10PM, when Glenfield Park officially closes. Pro-tip: The Essex County Parks and Recreation Department confirmed that the park’s tennis courts are open, despite a Google search that they are ‘Temporarily Closed.’
Grover Cleveland Park | 69 Brookside Avenue, Caldwell
The four tennis courts are located in the northeast end of the park, and the lights allow for night play until 9PM — which is when the park closes. A couple of the courts do show weather-related cracks, but it’s nothing that would interfere with playing. No reservations are required to play here.
Irvington Park | Augusta Avenue + Lyons Avenue, Irvington
The tennis courts in Irving Park were included as an approved addition to the park in 1914, a year after the park opened. More than a century later, the three courts in Irvington Park remain and they are now equipped with lights for day or night play. In April, Essex County announced that improvements would be made to these tennis courts to give them a makeover.
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Verona Park | Bloomfield Avenue + Lakeside Avenue, Verona
In the southern end of town, Verona Park has three tennis courts near Porcello Lane inside the park. The courts are usually busiest on weekends and in the evenings during the week. This court has night play until 10PM when the park closes.
Weequahic Park | Elizabeth + Meeker Avenues, Newark
This park’s four tennis courts are located on the north side between Elizabeth Avenue and Thomas Carmichael Drive. There are lights that allow for night playing until 9PM when the park closes. In April, Essex County announced improvements would be made to the four tennis courts in Weequahic Park to ensure the courts are fresh and as well-kept as possible.