Port Washington Tennis Academy
CNPHS Historic Recognition Program
Serving the Community
by Ross Lumpkin, Trustee
Now that the excitement of the US Open has begun to fade, it seems like a good time to consider the role that Port’s local tennis academy has played in our community.
When Hy Zausner founded the Port Washington Tennis Academy in 1966, it was nothing more than a few outdoor courts on a back road. It swiftly became a hangout for local kids to play tennis, one he hoped would keep them away from smoking, drugs, or whatever else they might get in trouble with. Hy had been a Boy Scout leader and still believed in the Scout philosophy of giving back to the community. This attitude has shaped the academy’s mission to this day.
A few years later, Hy 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.
“Back then, you didn’t have the preponderance of tennis courts on the Island that you do now,” says Dick. “Certainly, there were none that were specializing in a junior development program. My father was a forerunner for that part of the business.” When Hy died in 1992, Dick continued in his father’s footsteps.
Although PWTA is best known for having trained young players such as John McEnroe, Vitas Gerulaitis, and Tracy Austin before they went pro, Dick is adamant that developing star talent is not its mission. He’s put off by the publicity that comes with stardom. “All we did is to get them started like every other kid who comes here. Learning to play tennis is beneficial, regardless of one’s given athletic abilities. You don’t have to be a star to reap its benefits - as exercise, social activity, or pleasure for the rest of your life.”
While the PWTA Foundation subsidizes students who otherwise could not afford lessons, its commitment to supporting youth extends beyond the tennis court. As a 501(c) organization, the foundation also supports local charities that help parents and children.
PWTA has come a long way from its humble beginning. A major construction project in 2003 expanded the facility to include 17 indoor courts, spectator galleries for viewing, an elevated ¼ mile indoor running track, a private parking area, and a hotel for the pros. It is said to be the largest indoor facility on the East Coast.
Under the father and son leadership of Hy and Dick Zausner, the Port Washington Tennis Academy has served the common good of our community for more than 50 years. In recognition of their service, The Cow Neck Historical Society has made a Historic Designation Plaque available to them.