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Sunday, May 19, 2024
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Letters to the EditorLetter: "The reality is public parks with tennis courts are not intended...

Letter: “The reality is public parks with tennis courts are not intended for pickleball”

Dear Editor,

This letter is in response to the Letter: “Hall was selected for Pickleball Pilot Program due to its distance from residential homes and low tennis usage” which was spurred by the article: “Tennis Players at Hall Memorial Park fight to save courts from pickleball conversion.”

The genesis of the conflict between Tennis and Pickleball at Hall Memorial Park centers on one indisputable premise – the pilot program conducted by the City of Milpitas was deployed with no due process, no prior notice to nearby residents to gather public input, and conducted in bad faith. There were no clear criteria used to define adequate usage at Hall Memorial before and after the study, let alone clear standards of low usage at the Tennis courts. It is absurd to expect any park activity will utilize 100% of all park resources. If proper notices were sent, no members of the local tennis community would have ever agreed to this preposterous experiment.

The Tennis community accommodated Pickleball players, coexisted as good neighbors, and suffered in silence. The Pickleball community has shown no reciprocity in kind. Initially, the pilot mandated one Tennis court for dual use of both activities, with priority hours for Pickleball. That promise quickly ended when Tennis players encountered indignant Pickleball players refusing to share the dual-use Tennis court, and the city was indifferent to those complaints and persisted. Even worse, Pickleball players further violated the initial pilot agreement by playing on the two remaining two tennis courts unmarked with Pickleball lines, encroaching upon tennis players despite clear exclusive spaces for both activities.

Ostensibly, the pilot has been nothing short of a disaster for Tennis players. The biggest challenge for both activities to coexist at Hall is the length of each game and wait times, as scoring in both games shares no similarities. In Tennis, most public park facilities allow an hour to accommodate up to two sets of play while others are waiting. In Pickleball, playing two games typically lasts no more than 20 minutes. Pickleball inherently is a drop-in style game with short gamespans. Yet, the Pickleball community took no adequate steps to mitigate wait times, instead advocating the indiscriminate removal of Tennis courts in favor of their trendy pastime.

Gradually, the Tennis players stop coming to Hall, reinforcing the false Pickleball narrative alleging Tennis courts are underutilized. The forced displacement of Tennis players from Hall means two Tennis courts are permanently lost to nearby residents, and that’s on top of other issues attributed to Pickleball such as excessive noise, lack of street parking, overflowing trash on Pickleball courts, vandalized restrooms, etc. The residential neighbors who partake in neither Tennis nor Pickleball have also suffered in silence, for fear that their complaints would be met with public reprisals and private retaliations from unruly Pickleball fanatics.

Pickleball has not done nearly enough to invest in public infrastructure or contribute any tax dollars to justify their existence in Milpitas, or anywhere else, for that matter. Tennis has continuously prioritized future generations by creating pathways for kids as young as 5 and made it an education priority in school curriculum. These are the lasting hard data that truly matters, not the instant gratification Pickleball players are seeking at Hall. Their activity lacks leadership and has no central organization to issue clear guidance, other than to invade and outright steal shared resources for their own enjoyment. There is no amount of current demand for Pickleball that intrinsically entitles their activity to cut in front of other recreational priorities and engage in unfettered mob rule, particularly when they deliberately displace young children and families from enjoying park facilities.

The reality is public parks with Tennis courts are not intended for Pickleball, and occupying Tennis courts makes it a bad experience for both activities. Existing Tennis courts were incorporated into residential areas gradually over time, built over several decades through public tax dollars to augment the continuity of the neighborhood.

In the first 25 years of the game’s existence, it achieved Olympic sport status and first played at the 1896 Olympics. The United States Tennis Association, the national governing body for Tennis for over 140 years, frequently awards grant fundings to cities and municipalities, helping build new facilities and park renovation projects. Moreover, Tennis is a game that truly reaches people from all walks of life; the sport has sent aspiring kids to colleges on athletic scholarships, uplifted adults out of impoverished economic circumstances, advocated for gender and racial equality, and that’s before counting the numerous professional Tennis champions who trained in public parks in their path to greatness. In more ways than one, the Tennis community has repeatedly taken the high road to be the proverbial mature adult in the room, especially when compared to self-indulgent and irascible Pickleball players when they don’t get everything their way.

In any case, it is irrelevant Milpitas has X number of Tennis courts and zero Pickleball-exclusive courts, as both games are stylistically different. Pickleball should not drain existing public resources by piggybacking on established Tennis facilities and mutilating courts with Pickleball lines; it is nothing more than state-sanctioned vandalism. Moreover, the quantity of Tennis courts is meaningless when the city has willfully neglected to maintain 40% of the courts for almost two decades, some with deep uneven cracks. This is where the pilot program and Milpitas Pickleball Club would like to dispatch young Tennis players – to play on unplayable Tennis courts desperately needing repairs, where anyone can be one broken ankle or a torn ligament away from serious bodily injury. No other sport nationwide has experienced the level of disdain Pickleball players have shown towards Tennis. This behavior is unconscionable, selfish, discriminatory, and not neighborly.

In the final analysis, sharing courts with dual-use lines is a failed experiment and Tennis players suffer the most. Kids who are curious to learn about Tennis would find multi-sport lines difficult and confusing, assuming Pickleball players allow the kids to play in the first place.

This is only a partial list of liabilities Pickleball can impact communities, but the insult to injury doesn’t stop there. It is said that residential neighborhoods near Pickleball courts can potentially see up to a 20% reduction in home value when properties go up for sale, further depriving much needed property tax revenue for cities. In the end, it is our community that bears the consequences and sustains the greatest losses. At least one major California city – Long Beach – learned this lesson, and in August 2023, banned Pickleball in select locations within city limits. Similarly, one California suburb – Newport Beach – comparable to Milpitas in population, began issuing civil citations to Pickleball players who abuse and play on Tennis courts. In this instance, Milpitas falls woefully short in protecting public interest and must do better.

The Tennis versus Pickleball conflict highlights the ugly side of human nature – our narcissistic desire for possession by all means necessary, and that is simply not the way to be a good neighbor. We don’t have to look far for examples as there is a major conflict happening now halfway around the world – two entities with claims to specific things in a specific piece of land, with both sides unwilling to coexist.

The Pickleball community could use a lesson in being inclusive, neighborly, and invest their own resources to build a facility they deserve – in unoccupied spaces. Frankly, the Tennis community has suffered enough, and it stops here. Tennis is a top 5 global sport and it is here to stay in Milpitas for good.

In solidarity with the Tennis players and all Milpitas residents, respectfully undersigned,

Vikas Seth

Nelli A

Sushant Agarwal

Fuad Al-Amin

Mayank Patel Sol Tan

Sol Tan

Steve Te

Kian-Sek Teh

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16 COMMENTS

  1. Hall Park Tennis Community,
    I wanted to take a moment to express my gratitude for your insightful and thought-provoking response to the pickle ball pilot program at Hall Park. Your perspective added depth and clarity to the topic, and I truly appreciate the effort you put into your letter.

    Stay strong, stay hopeful and know that brighter days are ahead. You are not alone in this journey, and we’re all rooting for you to reclaim your court!!

    Mountain View Rengstorff Park Tennis Community

  2. This is great to see. Too many tennis courts have been lost to Pickleball. I have nothing against Pickleball but find the loss of tennis courts appalling especially when we need MORE tennis courts not less. In Fremont we used this Hall Memorial park pilot as an example of how not to do things and they listened and left our public park courts alone. Sadly we have lost junior tennis courts at the Fremont tennis center and one full adult court. I hope local governments realize this insanity and help the Pickleball community with their own facilities. The Pickleball community leaders also need to get creative and look at all available hardscape in the interim.

    • 100% agree. I hold no reservations or biases against Pickleball as a sport or recreational activity. I hope The City Park and Recreational authorities recognize this irrational situation and provide assistance to the pickleball community in establishing their own dedicated facilities without overtaking existing tennis court. Both sports have their own passionate players and enthusiasts, and it’s essential to maintain a balance that caters to the needs of all players. Rather than displacing tennis courts, which serve a different group of athletes, the city should explore options to expand or designate separate areas for pickleball. This way, we can foster a sense of inclusivity and accommodate the interests of both pickleball and tennis enthusiasts, ensuring that our community’s recreational facilities continue to cater to a diverse range of sports and activities.

  3. Awesome article! We are losing tennis courts all over the country. Tennis players and homeowners need to stand up to this hostile takeover. Shared courts can never work for tennis players.

  4. Really sad to see sports going into politics 🙁 and seeing sportsman pit one sport against another. These can be easily solved if you just speak to each other rather than disparage one another. Lets not become religious/political fanatics who just cannot see the other point of view. I am a part of the Milpitas community, play pickleball, tennis, basketball, table tennis, volleyball, badminton, squash, racquetball, cricket, soccer …. and any other sport that comes my way. the more sports availably for children to play the better for the community. Lets come together as one community and coexist irrespective of color, creed, sport, religion, political identity, gender … we are all humans and only one of the millions of species that exist on this planet and have bigger problems to solve than fight amongst ourselves.

    • I share your sentiment, Prashanth. We all participate in sports for the sheer enjoyment of it. However, I sense a growing divide between the Tennis and Pickleball communities, which is detrimental to both sports. No one wishes to devote their time to writing articles or attending city council meetings when they could instead be playing their beloved sport whenever they have a free time. Though we haven’t met in person, I hope we can soon discuss how to foster the growth of all sports in the Milpitas community and contribute to their collective success.

  5. “Pickleball has not done nearly enough to invest in public infrastructure or contribute any tax dollars to justify their existence in Milpitas, ”
    “The residential neighbors who partake in neither Tennis nor Pickleball have also suffered in silence, for fear that their complaints would be met with public reprisals and private retaliations from unruly Pickleball fanatics.”
    “There is no amount of current demand for Pickleball that intrinsically entitles their activity to cut in front of other recreational priorities and engage in unfettered mob rule, particularly when they deliberately displace young children and families from enjoying park facilities.”
    Who are these not contribute to tax dollar, fanatics, entitles folks who play pickleball?
    One of the Milpitas pickleball players son started a pickleball club in his high school with more than 15 members. Both him, his son and his younger daughter play pickleball.
    We have many seniors, retirees, some are 70+ years old enjoying the sport and help keep them healthy both socially and physically.
    We have young working folks from engineer, landscaper, management, company founder, dentist, college student play and enjoy the activity.
    Pickleball is one of the friendliest, social game I ever play, meaning that any single, individual player can come and play with people you never met before. It is a pickup game that bring strangers, people that one never met before in the community together.
    I observed a family of three, husband, wife and a teenager son practiced pickleball for a while and then invited a stranger alone on the next court to play a game of double.
    Pickleball is also a sport that a +5 years old or 80+ years old can competitive play. You ever wonder why so many seniors play pickleball?
    Don’t forget that there are also avid tennis, racquet ball, badminton players who also play pickleball.
    These are the folks that you called entitles, engage in unfettered mob rule, not done nearly enough to invest in public infrastructure or contribute any tax dollars to justify their existence in Milpitas.

  6. One more thought….
    Folks who never play pickleball, feel free to drop by Hall Park. Folks here will welcome you to a game of pickleball. We have free beginner class on Saturday. Many experience players at Hall are willing to spend time to train newcomers. Join in on a pickup game with other newbies.

  7. Steve Pham (nice try hiding behind an initial),

    You are precisely the embodiment of the Pickleball problem in Milpitas. First, you are not a Milpitas resident, as you stated at the 10/02 PRCRC meeting. Therefore, your input for any Milpitas issues means nothing. You need to go back to wherever you came from and stay out of Milpitas.

    Second, you repeatedly antagonized tennis players in person and when speaking negatively about them in public spaces is what’s causing a massive pushback from the tennis community. If we have to look up a dictionary definition of what is a bad neighbor, we would find a picture of you. You keep talking about the importance of families getting together and socialize over game, but you have no problem cutting out tennis players with families trying to do the same. Your public conduct, over a period of observation and time at Hall Memorial, consistently shown total disregard for sharing public spaces especially with tennis players. You and Milpitas Pickleball Club president Steve Balsbaugh often would goad, prod, annoy tennis players stating Pickleball will completely take over Hall and that it’s a “done deal” and if you guys are in a generous mood, maybe you’ll consider leaving one tennis court at Hall. Just about everyone who have seen you at Hall knows you’ve made those remarks.

    Third, Balsbaugh brags about his insider connection to every city official in his contacts. Is it any wonder the community have zero faith in a fair process, because you people continue to stack the deck in your favor. By the way, tennis players also know about that little stunt Pickleball players pulled using Milpitas Police and made false allegations. The fact that someone decided to use law enforcement to intimate tennis players is about as low as it gets. Rest assured the tennis players will not forget that incident.

    Lastly, you don’t know a single thing about organized sports, let alone tennis. You claimed elderly folks who are 80+ cannot play tennis. I suggest you look up ITF, which is the worldwide organization for the game of Tennis. There are worldwide and regional rankings for recreational players by country, gender and age. 80 year olds do play tennis in other parts of world. Just because you don’t have the talent to play, doesn’t they don’t exist, and they would all spank you on the court like a newborn.

    STOP acting like a good and STOP harassing tennis players at Hall and leave kids who are playing with their families alone. Consider this your only warning.

  8. And if you never play pickleball and don’t know if you want to invest in the equipment? We have loaners paddles and balls at Hall for you to try.

  9. “Steve Pham (nice try hiding behind an initial)”
    Bob, at least I put a P for my last name initial. What is your?

    “First, you are not a Milpitas resident, as you stated at the 10/02 PRCRC meeting.”
    Funny that I ever said I am a Milpitas resident. Like Jason Freeman representing Mountain View Rengstorff Park Tennis Community. I am here to promote Pickleball as a community sport. Is Jason’s comment meaningless?

    “Lastly, you don’t know a single thing about organized sports, let alone tennis.”
    BTW, I use to play for Santa Clara HS tennis team as kid. Did played as the number one double team and sometime play against Milpitas HS in CCS tournaments. Bjorn Borg, Guillermo Vilas used to be my favorite Tennis players. So yes, I know and still like Tennis, but my body just not letting me do it. Pickleball is easier on my old bones and joints.

    “STOP acting like a good and STOP harassing tennis players at Hall and leave kids who are playing with their families alone. Consider this your only warning.”
    ??? Online verbal threat is not good. Bob, what is your real name?

  10. “Your public conduct, over a period of observation and time at Hall Memorial, consistently shown total disregard for sharing public spaces especially with tennis players.”
    Examples please!!!!

  11. “Third, Balsbaugh brags about his insider connection to every city official in his contacts. Is it any wonder the community have zero faith in a fair process, because you people continue to stack the deck in your favor. By the way, tennis players also know about that little stunt Pickleball players pulled using Milpitas Police and made false allegations. The fact that someone decided to use law enforcement to intimate tennis players is about as low as it gets. Rest assured the tennis players will not forget that incident.”
    You people? You think every single pickleball player in cahoots and did all these stuffs? Dude, don’t know any of it and don’t care. Know nothing about them. You sure are making a lot of assumption.

  12. I am disappointed that online discussion/debate lead to angry, opinionated, false accusations and finally verbal threat. I have played pickleball with tennis players. They are all very friendly. I hope BOB is NOT a true representative of the tennis community.
    I will report Bob’s verbal online threat to the Milpitas police so that they have a record of the incident.

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