Tennis court times for sale on Craigslist

Neighbors have long complained that the Washington Market Park tennis court sign-up sheet has been corrupted by people who bogart the court for their own financial benefit. And now there’s proof.

Two listings are on Craigslist right now offering — for a fee — to secure a court time. I replied to one, and someone named Howard said it would cost $25 to get a time for me. No one replied to my request at the other listing.

From Howard: “The court has high demand, so you give me the times you prefer and I’ll try to get one of those slots. I will then send you a picture for confirmation with your name on it. Fee is $25 which can be done over Venmo. Regards.”

This is simply unlawful vending on Parks Department property, which is specifically noted in the DPR’s regulations and subject to a civil penalty. It also just sucks. Here’s the text:

No person in or on any property under the jurisdiction of the Department shall sell, offer for sale, hire, lease, or let anything whatsoever, including, but not limited to goods, services, or entertainment, or provide or offer to provide services, items, or entertainment in exchange for a donation (hereinafter “vend”), except under and within the terms of a permit, or except as otherwise provided by law.

For decades, players have complained about this sort of thing, as well as the use of the court by pros giving lessons (the Parks Department does not award permits for tennis instruction at this site). The sign-up sheet is supposed to be posted at 7a, but players have routinely — for years — said the sheet is often filled by 6:30a. The park’s staff is supposed to monitor the signups, but it’s a brutal task given the entitlement of the pros who use the court.

One local pro routinely charges for the service to sign up players — I have even seen him walking around with the sign-up sheet under his arm. He’s even offered lessons as part of PS 234’s fundraising auction. In addition, the sheet often goes missing during the day, so no one can check for open slots.

Some players got in touch with me this winter, saying that the first-come-first-served policy over the off-season limited these issues. (There were still pros playing on the court and giving lessons, but they had to wait with everyone else.) It was their hope that the policy could continue. But it was back to the sign-up sheet when the season opened on April 1.

“It really has gotten out of control,” wrote one player. “All these pros are making good money at the expense of the city and other players who want to use this PUBLIC court.”



  1. This is absolutely horrible, and the Parks Department has to step up to this “brutal task”.

    It is also a statement about the world we are living in that people will pay for this “service”. When I was recently trying to get a reservation for dinner for my son’s graduation, I was turned away from several high profile restaurants within moments of when they first became available (I was On it). Turns out there is an app which charges $250 and up for coveted reservations.

  2. That Restaurant app should be stopped – refuse to use it – And the restaurants themselves should be made aware of this situation and should check those reservations and cancel them. It does not benefit them in the slightest to be anywhere complicit in such schemes. Re: Tennis – There are a few people who seem to be parked at the tennis courts.. But it’s a first come / first serve basis – so the only way that the time can be reserved is for someone to show up and sit there for you in advance… I guess $25 is for their time…

  3. The court has been a source of controversy for many years. I moved to Tribeca in 1994. During my time there the court was named in honor of a local resident and tennis pro John Jones. However after 9/11 when more affluent aka privileged individuals moved to the neighborhood they questioned why a black man had his name plaque there. The city had honored Mr Jones a former municipal employee with the name plate because of his dedication to the youth of the neighborhood providing tennis lessons for free. It used to be a nice neighborhood where everyone got along. Now, more money more problems!

    • That plaque was put up in 1995 by the organization that ran the park at the time, of which John Jones was a member; the city had nothing to do with it. You can read about that here. He worked for the IRS, and was not a municipal employee. Read that story and you will see that the court has had trouble for decades, largely because of pros monopolizing the court time, including John Jones.

    • We don’t miss you (and we’re not all affluent or privileged – please check your facts!)

      • I agree with Zach’s former neighbors. As another of his former neighbors, I have to say that it’s really sad that he’s using the talking point of “blaming the wealthy” to explain the reduced availability of the court. It doesn’t even make sense that having more affluent residents would lead to pros monopolizing the tennis court, does it? I don’t get the connection. And I also agree with Makes you Go Hmmmm that Zach’s statements would get a Pinocchio if they were fact-checked.

        • Agreed. I’m also highly offended – but NOT AT ALL surprised – by Zach’s manipulative and inflammatory remark about Tribecans who “questioned why a black man had his name plaque there…”

          This statement is entirely devoid of truth or facts, and I need to call it out because it is offensive to those of us who have and do experience actual discrimination.

  4. Oh FFS….

  5. I agree with Tribeca Citizen’s post. When we moved down, the court was a wonderful neighborhood amenity. My husband and I played frequently on the court and met many other local players who became good friends. Over time it seems that the number of teaching pros using the court to give lessons has increased so much that it’s virtually impossible for me or my friends to get a slot for the day, even when arriving at the sign-up sheet well before 7AM. My understanding is that compensated teaching is not permitted on City courts without having a concession from the City (which the pro must pay for), so it makes us sad to know that these pros are making money off the court while neighborhood folks cannot even get on the court at all. I heartedly agree that first-come-first serve is a much fairer system than what we have now.

    • During the off-season when it is FCFS, one of the pros just park himself at the court all day and have clients show up one after another. Sometimes, he would partner with another pros and they take turns. So i am not sure FCFS is the solution.

      Frankly, every other courts in NYC have the park staff maintain the sign-up sheet. I dont understand why we cant do it.

      I keep hearing that the park staff get abused and bullied as a reason for not monitoring the sign up sheet. First of all, that is not acceptable. But i think this is self inflicted, since the park staff does something different all the time. one day they post the signup sheet at 5am, another day they wait till 7am. on rare occasions, probably after there are enough complaints, they suddenly decided to check for permits, but most days they dont. If you ignore your own rules all the time and only does it occasionally, you are setting yourself up.

      The other reason why folks cant get court time is because the signup sheet is not monitored, so people sign up for multiple time slots all the time, especially when it is posted at 5am. I frequently see the signup sheet filled, yet the court is not in used. Just the other day, one of the pros signed up for multiple time slots, was caught and she initially refused to cross the extra one out. it led to a confrontation. If not for the other patrons to step in and de-escalate, it could have turned ugly.

      I dont understand why we tolerate this and nothing is done.

      • ZD: During the off-season, when the court is FCFS, whoever is “next in line” gets to use the court before a person (including a pro) who just got off the court or who otherwise got “in line” after them. I can’t imagine that someone who has been sitting and waiting would tolerate someone in effect “cutting in line” to get on the court before they do.
        The courts along the Hudson River, which are part of the Hudson River Park, have used the FCFS system for years all season long and it seems to work there, so why not try it here?
        I agree that monitoring by the Parks Dept could improve the situation, but I think that the City is probably unwilling to spend money adding an employee to monitor a facility with a single court.

  6. “Players have complained for years about tennis pros gobbling up the slots and giving lessons, according to the Tribeca Citizen, which first reported the story.“

    N.Y. Post: “Hustlers illegally selling spots at NYC tennis courts on Craigslist in brazen racket”

  7. A local sculptor made the John Jones plaque, a friend of Jones, and they put it up themselves. Zach Minor’s comments are inaccurate but a good example of Jones’ spin. Oh, he’s a friend of Jones.

    See below the incorporation papers for Jones’ Chambers Street tennis business.

    Jones played on his court today from 2 to 3. Maybe you have to sacrifice some underlings, but its still good to be the Tribeca Tennis Godfather.

    Brent Shearer chambersstreettennissupporters.blogspot,com

    John Jones – Chambers Street Tennis Assoc. Inc. /

    Company Profile

    Company Name
    Company Number
    Business Type
    Register Date
    NOVEMBER 18, 1998
    Name History

    Company Overview

    CHAMBERS STREET TENNIS ASSOCIATION, INC. is a DOMESTIC NOT-FOR-PROFIT CORPORATION in New York and its company number is 2316968. CHAMBERS STREET TENNIS ASSOCIATION, INC. was registered on NOVEMBER 18, 1998. The company’s address is listed as C/O JOHN JONES, 310 GREENWICH ST., APT. 29L, NEW YORK, NEW YORK, 10013.