In a city where space is that rarest and most coveted of commodities, a sprawling health and sports club and its managing partner bring needed expanses to south Brooklyn
by Amanda McCoy • photos by alex barreto
As a metropolis comprised of mainly islands, New York City has mastered the art of maximizing small spaces. A restaurant with only 10 tables is considered not cramped but “intimate,” tenants have become conditioned to find 500 square feet of apartment space perfectly adequate, and small, hyper-niche fitness studios are the urban norm. Granted, there are a few health clubs like Chelsea Piers that break this mold and offer both acreage and variety, but Brooklynites have to journey farther west than they’d like to take advantage of these expanses of acreage.
But, in 2011, when the Brooklyn Racquet Club in the Coney Island/Brighton Beach area closed its doors, a trio of entrepreneurs and friends saw an opportunity to bring a health and sports club of unprecedented proportions to the neighborhood they call home.
It would be a long and onerous two-year process before MatchPoint NYC would officially open for business, but after negotiations with the Board of Standards and Appeals and 18 months of construction, the complex celebrated its grand opening in late 2013. In addition to ample space and a bounteous variety of facilities, the 120,000-square-foot complex fills another previously neglected void—it offers fitness programs specifically designed for both adults and children.
“We’re the only facility in South Brooklyn that offers programs for the entire family, ones tailored to both kids and adults. This is a true family complex,” explained co-founder and managing partner, Nino Muhatasov.
When Muhatasov and his partners, developers Dmitry Druzhinsky and Sergey Rybak, acquired the lease in 2011, their aim was to create a facility that offered something for every skill level and fitness goal. Today the venue has established itself as the premier destination for not only families, but singles, aspiring and professional athletes, and world champion competitors, and as a result, many prestigious tournaments and charity events have found their sporting home at MatchPoint NYC.
The complex, which spans more than three acres, offers an extensive array of facilities, courts, and classes. For cardio, weight, or personal training, a state-of-the-art fitness center is available. There’s a rhythmic gymnastics center, a basketball court, a junior Olympic-sized swimming pool, three group fitness studios, a yoga studio, an outdoor recreation area, a sauna, and other facilities. Fitness programs for kids include swimming, junior tennis development, camps, and rhythmic gymnastics. If members need a post-workout smoothie or meal, there’s a restaurant on site serving a range of items, from muscle-building proteinshakes to freshly-squeezed juices to heartier meals like skirt steak.
But perhaps the most famed feature of the club—and in an area that has a real penchant for the sport—is its tennis center, with nine competition class courts, nurturing players from beginner level to world champion. A number of international greats practice here, as it’s the largest arena of its kind in the borough. A former tennis coach himself, Muhatasov has years of experience developing local and international players who have gone on to achieve some of tennis’s highest honors.
Alona Bondarenko, a former student of Muhatasov and once ranked at the 19th best player in the world, now coaches at the club. Her impressive resume includes the 2008 Australian Open Women’s Doubles Championship with her sister Kateryna, and defeating Grand Slam champions such as Maria Sharapova, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Francesca Schiavone, and Flavia Pennetta.
And Bondarenko isn’t the only pro tennis player who frequents the facility. Dinara Safina (former World No. 1), Kateryna Bondarenko (Top 50 WTA), and Aleksandr Nedovyesov (Top 100 ATP) are often spotted training inside the complex. Every year, MatchPoint NYC also hosts two weeks worth of training for WTA and ATP players for the US Open (played nearby at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows.)
The club’s notoriety has also garnered the interest of some of the city’s better known charity events. In April of this year, the R Baby Foundation, a celebrated local non-profit dedicated to lifesaving medical care for infants in need, hosted its annual New York Tennis Tournament there for the second year in a row, at which prominent participants from all over the city enjoyed a competitive day of tennis and raised nearly 250k in proceeds for the charity.
“I’ve been involved in sports all my life, from a personal to a professional level. I’ve always dreamed of owning my own sporting facility,” he said. “Now I get to live it.”
2781 Shell Road / 718.769.0001