G.N.-based firm set to acquire, renovate Port Washington Tennis Academy

G.N.-based firm set to acquire, renovate Port Washington Tennis Academy
The Port Washington Tennis Academy is in contract to be sold to Great Neck-based Hornig Capital Partners, according to officials. (Photo from the Island 360 archives)

Great Neck-based Hornig Capital Partners is in contract to purchase the iconic Port Washington Tennis Academy, which will be operated under a 25-year lease with Sportime Clubs LLC, officials said.

Hornig Capital, a privately-held real estate development firm whose properties are located throughout Long Island, New York and New Jersey, will be acquiring the facility from Port Washington Tennis Academy Inc., a not-for-profit organization.

The sale is anticipated to close by the end of this year or early 2023, pending approval from the state Attorney General’s Office, officials said.

Hornig and Sportime, which currently owns and operates 14 clubs and sites throughout Long Island and the greater New York City area, will spend $7 million to renovate and modernize the facility in addition to maintenance costs, officials said.

Upgrades will be made to the tennis and recreational facilities and locker rooms while maintenance work will be conducted on the building’s HVAC systems and interior.

As of July 11 and until the transaction is completed, officials said, Sportime is operating the academy and providing “top quality programs serving juniors and adults of all ages and levels” while still operating as a non-for-profit.

The academy reported a deficit of more than $370,000 in a 2020 government filing, the most recent one available. 

Established in 1966 by Hy Zausner, the academy started out as nothing more than a few outdoor courts on a back road before quickly becoming a hangout for local youth to come and play tennis. Zausner, who had served as a Boy Scout leader, hoped that the facility would deter kids from getting in trouble.

A few years later, Zausner had a heart attack. His son Dick moved here to help his father in his recovery.

Dick became more involved in the running of the academy and stayed on to work with his father in the family business. Together they transformed the local hangout into a tennis academy for juniors.

Throughout the 1970s and ’80s, legendary tennis icons such as John and Patrick McEnroe, Vitas Gerulitas, Eric Fromm and Fritz Buehning ventured out to the Port Washington area to sharpen their skills.

The acquisition, officials said, would also make for a nice homecoming for the McEnroe siblings, as Sportime operates the tennis academy named after John, with Patrick serving as its co-director. at four of its locations. Port Washington, officials said, would be the fifth location.

McEnroe’s academy works through a charitable mission through their non-for-profit partner, the Johnny Mac Tennis Project, which provides access to “quality tennis programming, including life-changing tennis training for junior players” regardless of their socio-economic background.

The partnership between the project and Sportime has led to more than 15,000 hours of free group tennis provided to junior players and awarding nearly 4000 individual scholarships, valued at more than $7.4 million.

Hornig Capital officials declined to comment on the matter, while efforts to reach a representative from the academy for comment were unavailing.

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