Pickleball Club, School Officials Clash Over City Courts

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A pickleball club in Redmond, Ore., would like the city to paint permanent pickleball lines on city tennis courts, but local high school officials are against the idea.

As reported by The Bulletin, the Redmond Pickleball Club brought a petition signed by 153 people to a recent city parks committee meeting. The petition requests that two of eight tennis courts in Sam Johnson Park be lined for pickleball to meet overflowing demand at adjacent courts dedicated to pickleball. The eight-court pickleball facility was constructed in 2015.

A dozen or more people can often be seen waiting to use the pickleball courts, while the tennis courts sit largely unused, proponents of the request claim. “Very rarely, we see the tennis courts being used, especially the two courts we’re interested in sharing,” Redmond resident and pickleballer Peggy Friesner said, as reported by The Bulletin.

But that’s not the case year-round, argue officials at nearby Redmond High School. Located within walking distance of the park, the school uses the courts for its tennis teams and physical education classes. Redmond School District athletic director Kevin Bryant and Redmond High tennis coach and PE teacher Nathan Saito are against adding dual lines for pickleball and tennis.

“When you’re out on a court, and the ball is hit, if there’s competing lines, it’s very confusing,” Bryant said.

Bryant and Saito said they have nothing against pickleball, and they enjoy playing the sport. But they disputed the Redmond Pickleball Club’s claims that the tennis courts are empty.

According to Saito, the courts are packed during high school tennis season, from February through May, as well as during PE classes in the fall and during the summer tennis courses he leads, which draw 50 to 60 kids.

“They’re definitely used, and I don’t think the pickleballers see that,” Saito said.

“All they see is their 2-hour window in the morning. They’re making statements that I feel aren’t fully informed. It’s not really fair to the tennis community.”

According to Hatton, the city previously allowed the pickleball club to use tape on the Sam Johnson Park tennis courts to create temporary pickleball courts, but they are no longer allowed to do that because the tape left a sticky residue.

Saito said he preferred using tape, so both sports could use the two courts. Bryant disagreed with Saito, saying the residue made a court unusable during a district high school tennis tournament this spring.

According to Annie McVay, manager for Redmond’s parks division, it would cost the city a little over $5,000 to repair the tape residue, and staff is “undecided” whether they want to pay for that cost.

In an email sent to the parks committee and read aloud at the meeting, Bryant wrote that he didn’t want to be part of a “tennis versus pickleball argument,” but mentioned that pickleball is mainly popular among older baby boomers, and it was unfair for them to limit court space for high school tennis players.

“I’m not sure if it is a good idea for older people playing a sport to limit the next generation of athletes from participating,” he wrote.

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