In Surfside, tennis is the people's sport

Like its sister past-times of golf, polo, and hedge fund fraud, tennis has always been rank with the stink of exclusivity. But while it is usually played by guys named Nigel who tie their sweaters around their chests, once you take it out of the country club, tennis can be as accessible as a game of hoops. All you need is a $20 racket, some dirt-cheap balls- and a place to play.

There are larger public courts in Miami than the three-net Surfside Tennis Center, located at 8750 Collins Avenue

, but it's tough to beat the place's availability. During the week, klieg lights blast the courts, keeping them open until 10 PM. Perhaps because Surfside residents take their game to private clubs, there's seemingly always a court free. Stop by the administration shack and ask about any upcoming no-cost clinics.

One tip for tennis newbies: remember the model number of your Wilson, and try to only use that one. Players get testy when you use their tennis balls, even though the specifications are usually identical. Snobbery can be a tough habit to break.

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