RED BANK, NJ - It may look like a private club, but it isn’t. It is warm, friendly and welcoming. The courts are made of beautiful red clay. There is an experienced pro for lessons and valuable pointers. Don’t have anyone to play with? Rich Nicoletti, the pro who has been helping people learn, improve and play for over 40 years will do his best to find people at your level to play with. He gives individual or group lessons.

It a great place to make new friends and to find tennis partners and players. There are a number of social events. It isn’t expensive. For a reasonable one time fee, play is unlimited or you can play on an hourly basis. There is no an initiation fee.

On one side of the fence is the beautiful Monmouth Boat Club, a Red Bank landmark. The courts are on the Navesink River a block from down town Red Bank. There is plenty of parking. On the other side of adjacent Marine Park is a restaurant on the Navesink so you can follow your match with a BYO cold beer and enjoy their lobsters, clams or burgers or go one block west and have your pick of more of the best Red Bank has to offer.

These clay courts are a rarity and they are one of the best kept secrets in Monmouth County. Do we want it that way? No. That is what this story is about. These are public courts. You need to pay to play because the patrons support the cost of maintaining it, but it is one of the best bargains in the area for experienced tennis lovers, novices and everything in between.

The courts have a lot of great history. In 1939, the world’s number 1 ranked player, Don Budge graced these courts and a number of champions and novices have played since. At that time the courts were next to what was called Steamboat Dock because that is what it was and did. The cooling breezes off the Navesink are a blessing on hot summer days and the views are spectacular.

Why clay? For one thing, it is a lot easier on your back and knees than asphalt and the ball does not drop and stop as it does on grass. It is open from Memorial Day to Mid October, from 7 AM to dusk 7 days a week.

Courts can be reserved 24 hours in advance. For rates, information and pictures of the courts see the web site www.redbankclaycourts.com.