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Tennis players at Hall Memorial Park fight to save courts from pickleball conversion

When Vyomi Seth was just 6 years old, she started falling in love with the game of tennis. 

She would go to the Hall Memorial Park tennis courts to play, bonding with her dad, Vikas Seth, who was also very much into the sport. Located right behind Curtner Elementary School, the courts were conveniently situated, tucked near the edge of a residential neighborhood.

Vyomi, along with other kids, would walk to the courts after school and play for hours; they developed their skills and built community with other fellow tennis players – some of whom had been playing tennis there for decades.  

Now Vyomi is 18 years old, and she hasn’t been able to play tennis at Hall for the past year. This is due to the fact that Milpitas’ Pickleball Pilot Program has been using half of the tennis courts at Hall Park. With fewer courts available, Vyomi and her father haven’t been able to get easy access to play.  

Vyomi, her father, and a large community of Hall Park tennis players are now fighting to save their tennis courts from being permanently converted into pickleball courts. 

“These courts mean something to people. We’ve spent a long time building a community around these courts,” said Vyomi in an interview with The Beat. 

For the past several years, pickleball has been the fastest growing sport in the United States. In August of 2022, after requests from a group of residents, the City of Milpitas started its Pickleball Pilot Program at both Hall Memorial Park and Peter Gill Park, in an effort to gauge  interest in the sport. The Milpitas City Council even voted to allocate $100,000 for the creation of permanent pickleball courts. 

In 2022, toward the end of July, notices were posted at Hall Park’s tennis courts, informing the community that the year-long Pickleball Pilot Program would be starting within days. 

There are a total of four tennis courts at Hall Park. One of the notices stated that two out of the four courts would continue to be designated for tennis; one court would be dedicated solely to pickleball; and the remaining court would be “shared use,” or split between pickleball and tennis.  

For the shared court, pickleball was to have priority on early weekdays (9am-2pm), later on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays (4pm-10pm), and on Sunday mornings (9am-2pm). Tennis would have priority during other times outside of these windows. 

This meant that only two courts would be completely dedicated to tennis. For dozens of tennis players who were accustomed to having complete access to the four tennis courts every day, this was a big shift.  

Lines were soon drawn to designate the pickleball areas. New nets were also brought in for the new sport. Since pickleball courts require less space than tennis courts, the City was able to draw lines for a total of six pickleball courts across two tennis courts. 

In August of 2022, upon the launch of the Pickleball Pilot Program, pickleball players started coming out to Hall Park in droves, eager to make use of the temporary pickleball courts.  

Vikas, who has been a frequent tennis player at the Hall courts for the past 12 years, shared his disappointment with The Beat: 

“My wife calls this my second home. These four courts were always super-busy with tennis players, especially during non-working hours. When the City started the Pickleball Pilot Program a year ago, it came as a shock. No input was taken from the tennis community.”

Several tennis players told The Beat that although they were surprised, they knew that the program was temporary and would be over in a year. And so, they welcomed the pickleball players onto the courts and learned to adjust. 

“With only two courts, we’ve had to rotate amongst ourselves,” said Payal Prasad, a Fremont resident who has been coming out to play regularly on the Hall tennis courts. And: “We’ve lost many of our regular players because we don’t get as much time to play now.” 

The Pilot Program Ends 

The Pickleball Pilot Program at Hall Park was popular, sometimes drawing in up to 70 pickleball players during a regular summer evening. There’s no question that the demand for pickleball is immense.  

And although the Pickleball Pilot Program officially ended in August of 2023, pickleball players are still playing across two of the tennis courts over at Hall, while the City of Milpitas is trying to determine where to go from here. 

On September 25, the City of Milpitas held a community meeting to discuss the possibility of permanently converting some or all of the tennis courts at Hall Park to pickleball courts. Hall tennis players say they were not made aware of the meeting…until just hours before it was starting. So they had no time to organize or prepare to attend.     

“Nobody ever posted about the meeting on the tennis courts, so there was hardly any tennis representation at that meeting,” said Vikas. “It was called: Milpitas Pickleball Courts Community meeting. The headline itself is so biased.”  

Thirty-five pickleball players ended up attending the meeting, while Hall tennis players say that only one of their members was able to show up.     

The Hall tennis players, upset that they were not made aware of the meeting, sent emails to the City of Milpitas expressing their disapproval.

“As a tennis player, I am deeply disappointed that [the City] would hold such a meeting without including input from tennis players who use the courts at Hall Memorial Park on a daily basis. Tennis is a popular sport in our community, and tennis players deserve to have a voice in any decision that would affect their access to the courts,” wrote Mayank Patel in an email to the City.

A week later, on October 2, the City of Milpitas held a Parks, Recreation, & Cultural Resources commission meeting, where they further discussed the potential court conversion. This time, tennis players were sure to be in attendance. One hundred and two of them showed up to express their disappointment over the potential conversion of some or all tennis courts into pickleball courts, as well as the City not including tennis players in the process.  

“We tennis players have lost our patience and we’re at a point where we want to claim all of our tennis courts back. They’re done with their pilot program and they had a good response, and that’s awesome. But give us our courts back,” said Nelli, a Milpitas resident who uses the courts regularly and only wishes to be referred to by his first name. 

In results from a survey that the City of Milpitas conducted earlier this spring, 66% of respondents agreed that all four tennis courts at Hall Memorial Park should be converted into pickleball courts. However, the tennis players at Hall Park say that they were never given the opportunity to take the survey. 

“The City’s documents are so biased. The City officials are always communicating with the pickleball players – everything they’re doing shows bias toward them. The survey results are misleading,” shared Vikas. 

Court Use

Sushant Agrawal, who has been a resident of Milpitas for the past six years, often tries to come out to the Hall Courts to play tennis with his daughter. 

“We come here on the weekends at 6:30am in the morning, just to try and get access to one of the tennis courts,” said Agrawal. 

Agrawal told The Beat that at that early time, there are no pickleball players on the courts; however, since two courts are designated for pickleball, tennis players are unable to use them. 

Rajan Naik has been a resident of Milpitas for over 30 years. He has been playing tennis at the Hall courts for the past 25 years. He’s part of a group of a dozen other tennis players that comes out to Hall Park on the weekends at 6:30am to make sure to claim access to a court. 

“When I came here to the U.S., I started playing tennis. It’s a fantastic game,” Naik told The Beat. “I don’t want to lose any of these courts at all.”

Stephen Balsbaugh has lived in the same house in Milpitas since 1972. He has been leading the effort in getting the City to invest in permanent pickleball courts in Milpitas. Balsbaugh has been instrumental in advocating for the pickleball courts and spurring the City to launch its pilot program. 

In an interview with The Beat, Balsbaugh said that due to the heavy demand for pickleball, he feels that the City should convert three of the Hall Park tennis courts into pickleball courts, and leave one court available for tennis players.

Balsbaugh and others formed a Milpitas Pickleball Club membership; to date, 150 members have joined. Their Pickleball WhatsApp group has 437 participants. And Blausbaugh estimates that about 300 people play pickleball at Hall per week.   

“This past Monday, I took photos of pickleball that evening at Hall, and we had 40 people playing. On the other side, there was nobody playing tennis,” Balsbaugh told The Beat. “But there was one instructor teaching six kids and giving lessons.” 

Balsbaugh stated that he often sees an instructor teaching paid tennis lessons on the court to students, which isn’t allowed. 

“In deference to the tennis community, there ought to be at least one tennis court at Hall,” said Balsbaugh. “We had a good working relationship with the tennis community, and we feel they should have at least one court.”

The Hall tennis players told The Beat that about 200 tennis players use the Hall Courts — and they feel that it isn’t fair to compare the amount of pickleball players to tennis players. Two tennis courts can accommodate 24 pickleball players at one time, and only up to 8 tennis players – and that’s if they’re playing doubles. 

The Sound of Pickleball 

Along with the increase in pickleball players comes an increase in sound. All over the country, news reports show that the sound of pickleball has led to lawsuits and arguments. When a pickleball racket hits the ball, the decibel level can get to 70 dBA from 100 feet away. 

Milpitas resident Michelle Eacret lives near Robert E. Browne Park, where some pickleball players have been setting up their own nets over tennis courts to play since the start of the pandemic. She and other neighbors have been bothered by the sounds of pickleball for the last few years.  

“They usually play late in the afternoon into the evening, and all weekend,” Eacret told The Beat. “I can stand in the front yard and hear them playing pickleball. The sound carries.”

The courts are situated right behind Eacret’s house, and she can hear the sound even when her windows are shut. She has tried to reach out to the City of Milpitas to see if anything can be done, but she says that no one has been helpful. 

“They told me to look at the City’s Municipal Code and let them know if I could find something that would apply,” said Eacret. “I found there were no City regulations on the courts.” 

Eacret was told by a city worker to call 9-1-1 if the noises are bothering her. But Eacret feels that that isn’t truly a solution and that Milpitas should think about working to create better rules and regulations in their code.  

In the case of Hall Park, tennis players say a neighbor spoke at the recent October 2 commission meeting to complain about the disruptive pickleball sounds. 

When The Beat asked Balsbaugh about the pickleball sounds, he mentioned that the neighbors he spoke to said the sound wasn’t a problem for them. Although he did mention that neighbors expressed concern about parking. With all the pickleball players coming onto the courts, the park’s small parking lot and surrounding residential streets have been packed with vehicles; and it’s often challenging to find a nearby spot.

Looking for a Way Forward 

Currently, across Milpitas, there are 25 tennis courts located at parks like Hall, Dixon Landing, Peter Gill, and Pinewood. 

Milpitas also has a total of 8 temporary pickleball courts – the 6 at Hall, along with 2 at Peter Gill Park, which were placed over handball courts as part of the pilot program. There are also 6 temporary indoor courts located inside the Milpitas Sports Center. 

At this week’s Milpitas City Council meeting, a handful of tennis players came out to speak during Public Comment about the need to save the tennis courts from conversion. Deputy City Manager Matt Cano told everyone that there would be another community meeting, and that they would make sure everyone was invited.  

In an interview with The Beat, Councilmember Hon Lien said that the City staff was working hard to try to find a solution. She’s asked staff to do an inventory of all potential sites in Milpitas, to see if there’s an ideal spot for permanent pickleball courts.

“We are trying hard here, and we’ll do our best to accommodate both tennis and pickleball,” Lien told The Beat. 

Lien also stated that they were talking about conducting another survey to ensure that tennis players are surveyed. 

Balsbaugh told The Beat that at Milpitas High School (MHS), there are a group of tennis courts that sit unused during nonschool hours. He feels that the City should coordinate with the Milpitas Unified School District (MUSD) to open those courts to residents, thus bringing more tennis courts to the City. 

Meanwhile, the Hall tennis community hopes to keep up the momentum they’ve built over the last few weeks to ensure that their voices are heard. 

“They came in to occupy our tennis courts temporarily, and now they’re trying to make it permanent. That’s not fair,” said Nelli. “This is heavily messed up. Our request is this: Just give us our four courts back.” 

 



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Rhoda Shapiro
Rhoda Shapiro
Rhoda Shapiro is the winner of a 2022 Golden Quill Award for her Education journalism. She works as a journalist and media consultant in the Bay Area. She has written for both the Tri-City Voice and the Mercury News, and is the founder of Chi Media Company, which works mostly with nonprofit organizations and educational entities to elevate their marketing and communication platforms. Rhoda is also the author of “Fierce Woman: Wake up your Badass Self” and “Magic Within: Womb-Centered Wisdom to Realize the Power of Your Sacred Feminine Self.” Her YouTube channel features practices in yoga, meditation, and women’s empowerment. Rhoda is The Milpitas Beat’s Founder and Editor-in-Chief.

27 COMMENTS

  1. As a taxpayer, I along with so many regulars, have a right to play tennis in these courts. Request The Milpitas City Council to bulid new Pickle Ball courts and give back our Tennis courts!

  2. Saving tennis courts from the growing popularity of pickleball is important for several reasons:

    1. Equity and Inclusivity: Tennis is a well-established sport with a long history. Preserving tennis courts ensures that the sport remains accessible to those who are passionate about tennis, and it promotes inclusivity in sports.

    2. Tradition and Heritage: Tennis has a rich tradition and heritage, and many communities have invested in tennis facilities over the years. Protecting these resources helps maintain the historical significance of the sport.

    3. Diversity of Sporting Options: A variety of sporting options benefits a community. Having both tennis and pickleball facilities available ensures that individuals can choose the sport that best suits their interests and preferences.

    4. Court Maintenance Costs: Repurposing tennis courts for pickleball can lead to increased maintenance costs, as pickleball equipment may cause more wear and tear on tennis court surfaces. Preserving tennis courts can help manage these costs.

    5. Balanced Facility Usage: By maintaining tennis courts for tennis and offering designated pickleball courts, communities can provide balanced access for both sports, reducing potential conflicts and scheduling issues.

    Overall, it’s important to strike a balance between accommodating the growing popularity of pickleball and preserving the integrity and availability of tennis courts to ensure that both sports can thrive.

  3. “Two tennis courts can accommodate 24 pickleball players at one time, and only up to 8 tennis players – and that’s if they’re playing doubles.”

    That’s between a 3:1 to 6:1 ratio. Tennis players should have their tax dollars spent on tennis, sure. And no doubt the loss of 1-2 courts is disruptive to the community. But tennis is 3 to 6 times more expensive per capita than pickleball. That should be considered when allocating public resources to the creation and maintenance of court space.

    • why don’t you pose those inferences towards basket ball courts? as setting-up pickle ball court can be done on any hard surface (even a empty parking lot!!!) where as building a tennis court is next to impossible for the city. Also don’t compare apples with oranges (in-terms of player count).

      • It’s not apples and oranges. The higher density of pickleball is good for everyone. Take Mitchell Park in Palo Alto, as an example. It has 13 pickleball courts with lights on the footprint of 3 tennis courts. It is busy from, and I shit you not, 7am to 10pm. On peak hours, 4 people wait while 4 people play, so it supports 8 * 13 = 104 people. Closing Mitchell at any point during peak hours (6-9pm) would displace 104 people. If one third of those people would otherwise play tennis, then they would single-handedly saturate all 17 other courts in Palo Alto with lights, to say nothing of the 60 other people displaced.

        It’s great that so many people love court sports, whether it’s tennis or pickleball or anything else. Those who understandably resist sharing court space might consider the alternative, that expanding access will increase will alleviate crowding in the long term and expand access to a public amenity.

        And for what it’s worth, it’s common practice to make courts multipurpose. Gyms commonly support basketball, volleyball, badminton, and, increasingly, pickleball. All these sports coexist peacefully in shared spaces and are also much denser. I’m these two respects – density and sharing – tennis is the outlier. Everyone should have space for the recreation of their choice, but not at the expense of 3 to 6 other people who only want the same.

        • According to this reasoning, if another sport, like CucumberBall, were to gain popularity and could be played on a court half the size of a pickleball court, would it be equitable to allocate pickleball courts for CucumberBall?

        • if you re-call 2 out of 4 courts at hall park started as multipurpose courts and later converted into dedicated pickle ball courts, if we are truly against pickle ball we would have objected back then itself. Now your supreme leader (we all know who that is!!!) is trying to steal the rest of the two tennis courts from us behind our back by playing sneaky tactics (like one sided surveys, city P&R meeting only forwarded with in pickle-ball group etc..). So you tell me, who is playing fair game here!!!

          • @Ev Are you a tennis player? Ask any tennis player and see what their response/opinion is when pickle ball lines are drawn on a tennis court.
            I played pickleball within a tennis court and that did not bother me.
            I hope you can get a hint of what I am trying to say here.

  4. @Rhoda – First and foremost, I want to express my gratitude for compiling this information. On behalf of the tennis community, thank you for your dedicated efforts in amplifying our concerns.

    @Hall Park Tennis Community – Our shared concerns resonate deeply with all of us. For the past 14 months, we’ve witnessed the adverse effects of the pickleball pilot program on our tennis community. Many tennis enthusiasts I know have either abandoned the sport or reluctantly transitioned to pickleball due to the scarcity of tennis courts, especially during weekends and weekday evenings. Let’s stand together, supporting one another, and ensuring our voices are heard.

    @Pickleball Community – I want to emphasize that the tennis community isn’t opposed to your passion for pickleball. As a Milpitas resident, I’m genuinely pleased to see our community embrace another sport. Your enthusiasm for pickleball is entirely valid, and I genuinely hope the city provides the facilities you deserve. However, it’s essential to consider whether it’s fair to develop a new sport at the expense of an existing one. Even when Hall Park had four tennis courts, securing a court during peak hours was challenging.

    When the city initiated the pickleball program, none of us protested, even after losing two tennis courts. Regrettably, the ambitions of certain pickleball enthusiasts were not satisfied with acquiring two courts—they demanded the third and fourth as well. Every sport demands different skills, time, and energy investments. If soccer fields are vacant on weekdays before 5 pm or on weekends between 1 pm-5 pm, should we have the right to repurpose them for other activities?

    The pilot program revealed a significant interest in pickleball. I urge you to leverage this data and petition the city for proper resources to enjoy your sport continuously. Please don’t compromise your integrity for short-term happiness. You are all responsible citizens; don’t let the actions of a few individuals tarnish your goodness. The tennis facilities at Hall Park have been a cherished part of our community for decades, providing enjoyment to you, your family, and neighbors. Let’s not deprive future generations of these longstanding facilities.

    Remember, as good citizens, we always have a choice: to support what’s good and just, or to destroy something that has existed for decades to gratify our own desires. Let’s opt for the former, fostering harmony and preserving the heritage of our community.

  5. Converting tennis courts to support another sports is not a solution. City needs to think logically. There are different age groups who play these two sports. Already two courts are gone and we need to keep remaining two courts. My kids play tennis at hall park almost everyday. City should build new facilities for both the sports.

  6. On top of what everyone eloquently mentioned for tennis court , I would just like to add , at personal level tennis have such positive impact on my health , being a Diabetic patient . We are already stretched with half courts gone to pickleball at hall memorial park .

  7. As a Milpitas house owner, we should have right to play tennis at Hall park. My husband, my kid and I all play tennis. Sometimes we go to hall to play tennis and we have to wait for the court. I totally do not understand, the tennis court sometimes is not enough why people are thinking to convert the tennis court to pickle ball court. We should request to get all 4 tennis courts back.

  8. Now that the pilot program has concluded, the city needs to locate a new area for the pickleball community. Given pickleball’s growing popularity, it’s likely that any new parks constructed will include pickleball courts, potentially resulting in more pickleball courts than tennis courts. Therefore, it’s essential to preserve our existing tennis courts.

  9. The real problem is not enough courts, period. Stop being cheap and file for state development money, and build more courts. Problem solved

  10. Promoting Pickle Ball is one thing. Taking over established courts with an extended active Tennis community without any inputs from them is a totally different thing. Please build new Pickle Ball courts elsewhere and let Tennis Players have their courts at Hall Park. Tennis plays a key factor in the physical and emotional well being for a lot of players in the Hall Park Tennis community including myself.

  11. Parking at Hall Memorial was fairly easy, before the Pickle Ballers took over. Ever since Pickle Ball took over, it could be crazy trying to find parking space during peak hours. Clearly, the culprit are the lure of the Pickle Ball courts. In the beginning, when they first drew up the Pickle Ball courts on top of the Tennis Courts, it was pretty much not playable by Tennis player standards. The overlay drawing were a distraction when playing on it for tennis players. Very difficult to play seriously on those shared courts. Most serious Tennis Players would avoid those shared courts, if they had a choice. Maybe it was beneficial to the Pickle Ballers, but definitely detrimental to the Tennis Players. Now, they want the rest of the Tennis courts turned into shared courts? That is crazy! I don’t think there can be a real shared PickleBall/Tennis Court. We need separate courts for separate sports!

  12. I agree with everyone who commented that the courts occupied by PickleBall should be reconverted back into tennis courts the state they were before.

    With the growing popularity of
    PickleBall, even 6 more courts would not be enough, and the noise, traffic, and parking around the area and for the residents would get even worst.

    The city should relocate the PB sport to a different location with better planning regarding noise and parking.

  13. Do a survey of any community anywhere in the USA that has pickleball courts and you will hear loud angry neighbors complaining about the constant irritating noise from the pickleball games. If more courts are built, put them far away from any neighborhood. This is noise pollution bothering hundreds for the pleasure and profit of a few!

  14. I still don’t understand what does a pilot program mean by the Milpitas City, they started a one year pickle-ball pilot program from August 2022 till August 2023 which is temporary. We the entire tennis community at Hall Tennis courts have respected, adjusted and sacrificed two of our tennis courts to pickle-ball players. Now instead of giving back the two tennis courts back to the Tennis community the Milpitas City is planning to convert all 4 Tennis Courts to Pickle-Ball courts. There will be more than 200 regular Tennis players who will thrown out from Hall Park Tennis courts. Sending the Tennis Community home and inviting Pickle-Ball Community is unfair & injustice by the Milpitas City.
    Request the City to consider giving back the two Pickle Ball courts back to Tennis Players & look for alternative permanent places that are vacant and please DO NOT KILL ONE SPORT FOR ANOTHER.

  15. Clearly pickleball has become an established sport and is still growing extremely fast. What the article fails to mention is that millions of people, including myself, have happily hung up their tennis racquets to switched to pickleball. Other tennis players might want to also consider the switch to this extremely fun sport!

    I played singles tennis for 40 years before I discovered pickleball and have never looked back. There are so many advantages to pickleball:

    1) Much more social as the custom is to show up, put your paddle down, and join a game with strangers. There is no hassle trying to organize a game like it was in tennis. I have met many friends through pickleball and the comradery is awesome to build a community!

    2) The game is much faster and even in doubles, you get to hit the ball more frequently than a singles tennis player. I never liked doubles tennis as there is not enough action.

    3) Easier on the shoulder, elbow, and other areas that are prone to injury in tennis. More people are able to participate.

    4) Ability to play for a longer period of time, while still getting the same amount of exercise, as the sport is easier on the body.

    Bottom line is that supply and demand is the most important factor in providing facilities to the community. MANY people, including myself, have switched to playing pickleball and tennis demand is declining. I play at least weekly at Hall and the number of pickleball players occupying the equivalent of 2 tennis court is always about 8 times more people than on the 2 tennis courts.

    I understand the frustration of tennis players and would suggest you give pickleball a try and join the growing momentum rather than fight it. The game is easy to pick up and to become proficient at. (Another advantage that encourages more people to be active.)

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