An Unprecedented Year at the Club Mid-autumn, the Racquet Club on Park Hill (PHRC) looks back on a year unlike any that the club and this country have experienced since the end of World War I. That was when the great Spanish Flu Pandemic took an estimated 50-100 million people worldwide, including President Donald Trump’s German immigrant grandfather, Friedrich, in 1918. President Trump himself was hospitalized with Covid-19 earlier this month, but he fortunately came through the condition safely, thanks to the prompt and effective care he received from the staff at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC. Similarly, Yonkers and Westchester County saw a spike in cases last spring. But New York State has been doing a good job encouraging most of its people to observe the three W’s – washing their hands frequently, wearing a face mask when not at home, and watching their social distance when among strangers. And the club has been grateful to all its members, new and old, for doing their best to protect one another’s health in the same way, on the tennis courts, in the pool and at social gatherings. That discipline will be especially important for the club’s members this fall and winter, when medical experts warn the novel coronavirus is likely to be especially virulent and opportunistic in cold weather. The club’s Board deserves special credit for encouraging responsible behavior among members in observing the guidelines promulgated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Special kudos to Directors Justine Henry, Patty Gamba and Kirsten Barbera for their excellent leadership in promoting observance of the Covid-19 laws, rules and regulations, as called for by the New York State and Westchester County governments.
The Directors were also instrumental in providing leadership to the club Social Committee, which did such a fine job, all summer long, of organizing the weekly events, like the Friday Night Food Truck parties, that for safety reasons had to replace the traditional Friday night barbecues, which in previous years featured family-run pot-luck affairs with lots of delicious home cooking. Thanks, Justine, for organizing an entire successful summer’s Friday Night Food Trucks. Now we are experts on the best ones to invite in this metropolitan region! Among the most popular were the Spano Food Truck, and the Three Little Pigs Food Truck, both of which came to serve us several times.
A Good Summer at the Club, Despite the Pandemic Despite the social restrictions this year, the club’s beautiful pool was busy all summer long. So were the tennis courts, and they still are, so long as the weather remains good for outdoor tennis, even as many players prepare to shift increasingly to indoor courts.
Special appreciation goes, as usual, to the members who volunteer their time on committees that keep the club functioning efficiently year after year. Thanks to the Pool Committee – Karin White, Robert Moment, Chrissy Gervais, and Gabriella Cinquemani – for all of their hard work in getting the pool ready in the spring time, in recruiting the lifeguards, in making sure the pool continues to meet the Yonkers safety code, and in supervising the lifeguards’ performance in implementing the laws, rules and regulations surrounding use of swimming pools. We were also, unusually, able to keep the pool open two weeks beyond the Labor Day week end for our inveterate lap swimmers, because schools were late to open, allowing us to keep our lifeguards longer.
Thanks to the Bar Committee – Patty Schumann, Patty Gamba, Justine Henry and Pat O’Hanlon – for all the hard work involved in running the bar: hiring and supervising bartenders, ordering and storing beverages, ensuring security of inventory, handling the finances of the operation, and overseeing the running of the bar on social occasions. And thanks to Patty, Justine and Patty for serving drinks themselves when bartenders suddenly become unavailable.
Thanks to the Tennis Committee – Patty Gamba, Tom (“Westy”) Westmoreland, Patty Cecere, Paul Meissner, Todd Geremia and Robyn Liberatore -- for organizing all the intramural tennis tournaments, fun and competitive, throughout the summer. Thanks to Westy for once again captaining the club’s men’s team that competes against rival teams from other clubs in the Westchester County Tennis League (WCTL).
Special thanks to Westy also for overseeing the new home-grown online tennis reservation system. That was no easy task! The Tennis Committee says it plans to move to a “real” reservation system next year. Special appreciation goes to Jim Beirne this summer for going out of his way to welcome so many new members to the club and for inviting them onto the tennis courts for practice hitting and for competitive play. Kudos to Jim for going above and beyond to make sure the new members felt welcome.
This year, the pandemic drastically shortened the WCTL season, so that the Park Hill team was able to compete against only four other clubs, sometimes at home and sometimes on the road. The highlight of the short season came on Sunday, September 20th, in perfect fall weather, when Park Hill swept the usually tough Coveleigh Club visiting team in all five matches without dropping a single set.
The Labor Day Week End Events
In lieu of the usual annual New Members’ Cocktail Party, the club organized special events for the long Labor Day week end. Those included, on Friday evening, September 4th, the excellent barbecue from the Three Little Pigs Food Truck. Meanwhile, member Joe Harbeson once again spun tunes from his vast musical collection on the front porch for all to enjoy. And each new member in attendance received two drinks on the house.
On Saturday, September 5th, the annual men’s singles tennis tournament was held, involving 16 men. Then on Sunday, September 6th, the club held a fun tennis tournament, organized by Paul Meissner and Tami Vu, for all players wishing to take part and able to serve. The tournament was in a doubles and round-robin format. The Road Grub Food Truck fed players after the tournament.
Other social activities this year included several in the back yard, which was immaculately kept up by our houseman, Rogelio Herrera. Very popular with the members’ kids was the showing on the night of Saturday, August 1st, of the scary movie, “Jurassic Park,” organized by Chrissy and Matt Gervais as “the first release of the Summer Outdoor Screening Series.” Fierce-looking T-Rex monsters actually roamed the grounds that night but were well-policed by Matt, so that only a few careless kids were reportedly lost to the ravenous creatures. Adult members’ appetites were sated by The Three Little Pigs Food Truck.
On Saturday, October 3rd, families came with tents and sleeping bags for a fun overnight Camp Out in back organized by Justine Henry. The evening began with campfires, s’mores, crafts and spooky stories. This was the first time in 20 years that members had organized such a sleepover in back. But the night turned out to be colder than expected, and only three hardy families toughed it out in back that night. Once again this year, the club offered aquatic-fitness exercises in the pool. Summer classes were offered on both Wednesday evenings and Saturday mornings. Open to both members and non- members, the classes are especially popular as a good way to stay both fit and safe during these challenging times.
Fall Week-End Bonfires
The club scheduled five bonfires this autumn, falling either on Friday or on Saturday evenings in late September and throughout October. The last of them coincided with the well- attended Oktoberfest party on Saturday, October 24th, featuring German seasonal beer, bratwurst, Frankfurters, sauerkraut, pretzels, and strudel. Everyone agreed the food was very tasty, as was the beer. It was a chilly evening, so everyone also appreciated the warmth thrown off by the new propane heaters the club has bought. Thanks to Patty Gamba and Justine for co-hosting the Oktoberfest party and to Patty Schumann for ordering the delicious food.
Intramural Tennis Tournaments PHRCFunTournament. OnSunday,September6th,eightteamsof16playerstookpartintheannual Labor Day Week End Fun Tournament. Four ladies joined with 12 men to produce the eight teams; included was 12-year-old Ari Schaer, a student of Ron Weiss, making his PHRC tournament debut. The winners of the final match were the team of Jennifer Ringstad and Jean Lambert.
The men’s and women’s competitive doubles tournaments were held on Saturday, August 1st. In the men’s final on Sunday, August 9th, Artie and Vinnie Liberatore defeated Tom Westmoreland and Robert Buckner in straight sets, with the first set going to a thrilling tiebreak. Men’s Singles. The men’s singles tournament was held on Saturday, August 29th, involving 14 players. In the best-of-three-set final on Saturday, September 19th, Robert Buckner came back from one set down against Artie Liberatore to win, two sets to one, in a hard-fought match that was very entertaining for the spectators.
The mixed-doubles tournament was held on Saturday, September 26th. Ten teams participated. The final has not yet been played.
Late-Season Membership Promotion for New Members As usual at this time, the club offers prospective new members a very inexpensive promotional rate to join. For only $100 for singles or $200 for families, membership starting now is good until the end of the club’s fiscal year, February 28th. Those who join under these conditions are entitled to installment billing next year if they rejoin. They are also then eligible for any 2021 membership promotions offered by the club.
Bowling No activity at the club has been hit harder this year than the annual winter bowling league, which customarily runs from late October until late April: fully six months. Last season‘s league play was interrupted in mid-March with only one month left to go. Eight of last year’s 20 regulars have signed up to bowl in the league this winter. Four new bowlers have joined the league. The 12 bowlers who have signed up for this season are organized into four teams of three people each for this winter’s league play. Only two teams will bowl on any one evening, either on Tuesday or on Thursday, to minimize the number of people in the bowling alley at any one time.
YoFiFest 2020 PHRC members Patty Schumann and Dave Steck, founders of the annual Yonkers Film Festival (YoFiFest) seven years ago, say that this year’s festival, YoFiFest8, is being conducted entirely online for the safety of participants. PHRC Director Patty Gamba, a new board member of YoFiFest, announced a special offer to club members this year: a 20 per cent discount for all PHRC members who purchase a full festival pass. PHRC members have been big supporters of the festival since its inception.
All screenings are video on demand (VOD). The virtual cinema began on Friday, October 23rd, and continues until Friday, November 20th. Ticket and pass holders can watch the films whenever they want until November 20th. The live, interactive part of the festival starts on Friday, November 6th, with the Red Carpet Kickoff Event. It continues until Sunday, November 22nd, with the Audience Choice Awards Ceremony. During those two weeks, besides the film showings, the festival will feature filmmaker Q&As and workshops. Information about YoFiFest8 can be found at www.YoFiFest.com.
Member News Good wishes to Tom Harrington. The club sends its best wishes to long-time member Tom Harrington, who has been ailing. His son, Tom Jr., came up from North Carolina this summer to help his dad with personal affairs, to see old friends at the club and to get in some tennis.
Goodbye to Ralph Farina. The club is saddened to have learned of the recent passing of its long- time member, Ralph Farina. An outstanding bowler in his prime, Ralph had the distinction of bowling the highest game ever bowled in our alleys, an amazing score of 276. Ralph’s name can be seen on a number of plaques on the wall of the bowling alley.