Longtime Red Bank clay courts tennis pro Rich Nicoletti on the site of the dormant riverfront facility earlier this month. The Monmouth Boat Club is in the background. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)
This time of year, scuffing footwork and the thwok of tennis balls would normally be heard most summer mornings down by the Navesink River in Red Bank’s Marine Park, widely considered nirvana among aficionados for its unusual red clay courts.
It was certainly that for Rich Nicoletti, who grew up in an apartment above what’s now the Downtown nightclub just up the hill, and spent decades as the tennis pro at the borough-owned facility.
“These tennis courts were a gem,” said the retired sports journalist, who at 73 estimates he’s spent fully one-quarter of his life at the site. “It was beautiful.”
But 86 years after they opened, the courts may have seen their last match.