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Club Spotlight: East Brunswick Racquet Club

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Catarina Lindqvist Profile
Bill Ryan Profile

EBRC’s Owner and Former Pro Has Club Positioned in the Sweet Spot…

 

East Brunswick Racquet Club

  • 45,000 sq. feet
  • 7 climate-controlled courts
  • USTA Adult/Team Tennis/Juniors programs
  • Pro shop w/stringing
  • Full-service locker rooms
  • Yoga classes

 

 

Ask Catarina Lindqvist-Ryan, head teaching pro and owner of the East Brunswick Racquet Club, what the most important thing to know about hitting a tennis ball is, and she'll tell you quite easily: "Placement…where you hit the ball is just as important as how you hit the ball.

“It's more important to place angle shots than mindlessly hitting the ball as hard as you can every time,” she says. “If you can place the ball anywhere you want on the court, you can develop an effective game."

If anyone should know, Catarina does. The Swedish-born former tennis tour player reached a career-high world rank of No.10, as well as reaching the semifinals at the Australian Open in 1987 and Wimbledon in 1989. She won five singles titles throughout her career and a doubles championship. 

Meanwhile, she coached two WTA players and served as captain of the Swedish Fed Cup team from 2005-2007. She also served as assistant women’s coach at Princeton University (1995-2000) which won an Ivy League title in 2000.

Catarina played Martina Navratilova more than 14 times (“I never beat her…”) and beat Steffi Graf twice. All told, Lindqvist notched wins over Hana Mandlikova, Pam Shriver, Virginia Wade, Wendy Turnbull, Manuela Maleeva, Helena Sukova, Zina Garrison, and Natasha Zvereva. The wins over Graf came before the latter turned 15. (“I never beat her after that, and I was 21!”)

Born in Hollviken, Sweden, a short lob from the Baltic Sea, Lindqvist began playing in the ‘80’s during the country’s golden tennis era, led by Bjorn Borg.

“We could get to the beach in about 70 seconds, but there were not a lot of public courts,” she said. “There was a private club court nearby that I would go to with my father and watch from the umpire’s chair while he played. It was a good time for tennis in Sweden.

“Of course, there was Borg, who everybody watched, then Mats Wilander and Stefan Edberg were in Grand Slams (Wilander won six between 1985 and 1992), and we had Henrik Sundstrom and Joakim Nystrom, among others.”

[Her son Joakim Ryan, a standout prospect with the NHL’s San Jose Shark organization, is named after Nystrom.]

While still ranked in the top 50 in the world, Lindqvist decided to retire in 1992 and focus on raising a family. They now have three children, ages 16, 20 and 22.

However, her dream was always to own a tennis club.

She realized this dream in December 2009, when she and her husband Bill Ryan purchased EBRC off Route 18 in central New Jersey. Bill was a success in his own right as a former sports agent for International Management Group (IMG), who had worked with some 200 players and repped the likes of Roger Federer, Tim Henman, Bjorn Borg, Mats Wilander and others.

Like a chef who buys a restaurant, it’s been a labor of love for Lindqvist, but not always as easy as putting away volleys at the net. Nevertheless, she can be found on the courts most days, nights and weekends – teaching the game she has lived.

EBRC, which is a 7-court facility, features adult clinics and comprehensive junior programs, individual private and group lessons, USTA men’s and women’s leagues, adult and children’s tennis parties, 10-and-Under tennis, and adult Team Tennis. This includes the USTA’s new Tri-Level men’s and women’s leagues that feature three courts of doubles at varying ratings. There are four full-time pros and a couple of part-time pros.

“In addition to regular contract court time, we’ve recently expanded our own in-house tennis program for youngsters and we also host a number of adult Team Tennis leagues,” Lindqvist said. “Our goal is to keep the courts full of people playing the game we all love, and we’re always interested in seeing more USTA player participation.”

Lindqvist says that EBRC plans to add solar panels onto the club’s roof by the year-end and is contemplating resurfacing the courts. (Everyone is hoping for US Open blue!).

EBRC recently upgraded the air conditioning and lighting (its lighting has been rated one of the best in the area), and the club is always looking to improve the playing experience for participants.

Her assessment of the current crop of top players?

“I love to watch the women’s matches, especially when they’re playing excellent points, with few unforced errors and sharp shot angles. In addition to Serena Williams and her undeniable power, there are some amazingly skilled players on the tour today.”

And her advice for the brightest upcoming prospects and diehard court commandos of any age?

“For the young beginner, the most important skills to learn are the ability to track the ball so it can be returned properly, and developing proper strokes. As they develop, learning court strategy is important. When you can place the ball well, it doesn’t matter what your shot looks like, as long as the stroke is sound. So, we work a lot with our students on where they hit the ball versus how…if you can’t place it, then it’s your stroke production…and we work on how to hit in those cases.”

See for yourself by visiting EBRC soon. Catarina will have you doing your best Stefan Edberg, Borg or Wilander by the end of the night!

--C. Bacey / R. Thomas, 11-1-15

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