The ochre shade of a red clay tennis court beams especially bright on summer days. In New York City we’re surrounded by so much silver, blue, and black that other colors seem to pop out of nowhere – like the red chile oil in Chinese food or the green meadows in Prospect Park. The Riverside Clay tennis courts on Manhattan’s Upper Westside provide a burst of orange that catches every runner, driver, and cyclist by surprise.
Saturday, June 10th was one of those bright summer days, and we both had red clay fever. The French Open was nearing its climax, with Rafael Nadal prepared to win his 10th title in Paris the next day. Hillary and I agreed it was the perfect occasion to visit the Riverside courts for an afternoon of tennis. Without passports or airfare, we transported ourselves to Paris via the C train to 96th Street.
Once on the court, Hillary smashed cross court forehands and I slid for drop shots at the net. We even were sprayed by a passing, five minute sun shower, as if we were in Paris for-real. We left the courts with ankles, socks, and shoes stained orange by the dirt.
Our Parisian afternoon wouldn’t be complete without an apéritif at White Gold Butchers – a combination restaurant + meat purveyor. We talked tennis over sips of rosé and bites of layered potato fries and summer squash. From the color of the courts to the decadent crispy, lard fried potatoes, our day felt like a getaway without having to leave the 212.