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Holding Court in Northeast

Refurbished Tennis Center in Swinging Distance of the Hill

Those who live or work on Capitol Hill looking to squeeze in a game of tennis with a colleague over lunch, or meet up with friends for a match after work, have six newly refurbished courts just 10 minutes away.

The courts are located at Trinity University next to the Trinity Center, a $20 million health facility that opened in February 2003 that offers a gym, pool, basketball courts and indoor track. Becky Vuksta, director at the Trinity Center in Northeast D.C., said the center currently has 624 members who have access to both the health facilities and the tennis courts.

The courts were refurbished in March at a cost of approximately $11,000 apiece and can be rented by the hour. And, aside from being available for casual matches, the courts are also home to the FifthSet Tennis Academy, which is run by FifthSet, a sports marketing and management firm that specializes in tennis. The academy boasts a handful of top-notch tennis instructors, including players from the Davis Cup, the premier international team event in men’s tennis,

and the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, the world’s premier professional tour for women.

“There is no other program in the city that offers the caliber of our instruction,” said Yann Auzoux, tennis director at the academy. “We’re really the only academy in the city.”

[IMGCAP(1)]In addition to offering lessons and other programs, the courts are also used for athletes in training, such as Alana VanDervort, “the best player we have training here,” Auzoux said. The 19-year-old Rockville, Md., native trains at the Trinity Center in the summer months and in Florida during the winter.

While there are many programs offered by the academy for both children and adults, Auzoux said there is plenty of open court time for those who want to play a match or two or spend some time working on their skills. The courts are available from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

And no worries if you’re lacking a tennis partner, because FifthSet has got you covered. At www.fifthset.net, those looking for a game can browse the database for players, schedule practices and matches and track statistics, among other services.

When the courts are not available for open court time, it’s most likely because they’re occupied by those participating in the daily, weekly and seasonal programs offered for both children and adults. Children can start in the programs as young as 4 years old according to the Web site, but Auzoux said currently the youngest players registered in the “nursery,” which teaches the basic skills needed to play tennis, are 6.

In addition to what’s going on at the Trinity Center, Auzoux also is working on bringing an international tennis tournament to Washington, D.C.

“This is the first time D.C. will have an international event for kids 14 and under,” Auzoux said. “It’s a tournament we’re cloning from France.”

The BNP Paribas Cup in Paris is an international tennis tournament that has been around for 16 years. Last year the tournament drew participants from 63 nations. Auzoux said he hopes the SuperKids Tennis Cup, the Washington, D.C., version of the BNP Paribas Cup, will attract just as many young players.

“We’re aiming for the largest international delegation we can get,” Auzoux said. “The France tournament is in July — we’re inviting all those players. But it’s the first year, they don’t know how good [the SuperKids Tennis Cup] is, it has no track record.”

The actual tournament will take place Aug. 14-28 in Reston, Va., but Auzoux said the Trinity Center will host events and clinics that Members of Congress will be invited to attend “since it’s so close” to the Hill.

“There’s nothing else like this in the Northeast area,” Auzoux said, in reference to the tennis facilities at the Trinity Center.

The Trinity Center is at 125 Michigan Ave. NE. For more information, call (202) 884-9085 or visit www.playfifthset.com.

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