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Volume XVI, Number 3383

Tuesday, June 12th, 2001



Photo by Susan (I-Town) Thompson


Last summer, Parks held a citywide amateur handball tournament to celebrate one of our best-used athletic facilities: handball courts. All it takes is a wall, a painted court, two players, and a rubber ball to make a game. At the time of that first tournament, 500 of Parks' 2,067 handball courts were in good condition. In 2000, Parks crews improved 592 more courts, and they are now on our way to meet the goal for 2001. Each court receives a power wash and graffiti removal. Expansion joins and cracks are filled, walls are smoothed lines are painted. To each court is added the signature Parks leaf to let players know who's responsible for the court.

The weekend of Saturday, June 9 and Sunday, June 10, 700 handball enthusiasts competed in ten categories. Winners of Sunday's A Category finals walked away with cash prizes and not a little glory. Commissioner Henry J. (StarQuest) Stern addressed the winner from the London Planetree Playground in Queens, one of seven locations citywide.

The Unites States Handball Association and several local clubs-the Inner-City Handball Association, St. Albans Handball Association, Our Own Handball Association, and QB Handball Association provided the people and the support to make the tournament possible, and on a larger scale than last year. Parks volunteers and Recreation staff planned the entire event and oversaw its success.

Handball is one of the easiest sports to practice in NYC. Through court renovations and the annual Big Blue Handball Tournament, Parks is working to make handball as rewarding as possible for longtime players and novices too. Some of those gathered at the finals have a long way to go before they reach the champs. The pros, in the heat of competition, taught the crowd a few tricks to take back home to their neighborhood courts.