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The red clay of Albany

Delmar resident manages Albany Tennis Center and its unique courts

Albany Tennis Center manager Larry Yakubowski, left, shows John Tomer proper form on a backhand shot Saturday morning at Ridgefield Park. The Delmar resident runs a facility that features the only clay courts in the Capital District.

Albany Tennis Center manager Larry Yakubowski, left, shows John Tomer proper form on a backhand shot Saturday morning at Ridgefield Park. The Delmar resident runs a facility that features the only clay courts in the Capital District. Photo by Rob Jonas.

— The clay courts are valuable in teaching tennis players, said Yakubowski.

“For me, the surface is special because it slows the ball down and encourages creative shot making,” he said. “It’s not important for me to have them share my thoughts (on how to play). I want them to learn to play their own game and develop their own shots.”

Though he is looking to increase membership, Yakubowski said that anyone can come to Ridgefield Park and take lessons from him or his staff, which includes Bethlehem Central High School graduates Elizabeth Breaznell and Christopher Bradt.

“As the tennis pro, I have opportunities to bring in non-members and to appeal to players of all ages and competitive levels,” said Yakubowski. “The reality is by reaching out to people who are non-members, they might want to join.”

There are several programs for adults and youths at the Albany Tennis Club. Adults can participate in singles and doubles classes, as well as programs that teach specific skills. There are also weekday drop-in doubles programs, a ladies tennis program, a weekend morning mixed doubles program and an intermediate level doubles program. For younger players, there are summer programs available.

In all cases, Yakubowski said the important thing is to get people playing with others who are at the same skill level.

“I try to make certain that players feel included, and they have people to play with,” he said.

The Albany Tennis Center is also home to the annual Tri-County Tournament, which is held during Labor Day weekend. Players from across the Northeast travel to Ridgefield Park to participate in the tournament, which earns them United States Tennis Association standings points.

Yakubowski has com-peted in the Tri-County Tournament several times, and he said he’s always impressed with the level of talent.

“What’s really interes-ting for me as a competitor is that the people who have played the tournament have had tremendous success over the years, and they’ll come out and show that they can still play that very beautiful game,” he said.

Albany Tennis Center membership costs run from $40 a year for juniors (high school students and younger) to $335 a year for a family. Individual memberships include two guest passes, while couple and family memberships include three guest passes. Non members pay a $15 court fee to play at Ridgefield Park.

Ultimately, Yakubowski said he measures his success as Albany Tennis Center’s manager by how busy the red clay courts are.

“I want to make the club healthy, and by that I mean I want the courts to be filled with players,” said Yakubowski.

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