Tennis courts

Battle it out on the pickleball courts or tennis courts in SF’s Stern Grove

In San Francisco, there was a match between tennis players and pickleball players on Thursday night.

Fans of the new sport said they needed more courts and Stern Grove was ideal. Tennis fans said it would be at their expense.

There was a lively community meeting that was standing only.

Stakeholders expressed their opinion on the options on the table.

Recreation and park officials said tennis and pickleball were extremely popular.

Now the battle is whether Stern Grove should remain a shared space.

Pickleball players were passionate and eager to talk about this burgeoning sport.

“I think of pickleball as a life-size table tennis,” said Lillian Kim of the Pickleball Steering Committee.

At the Golden Gate Park Tennis Center, there are dedicated pickleball courts.

But fans of the new sport said they needed more.

“Especially on weekends, lines to play can be anywhere from 30 minutes to almost an hour,” Kim said.

Pickleball players want Stern Grove, which is being repaired, to house 8 new courts dedicated solely to their sport.

Last year, a main water leak caused flooding, damaging tennis courts that were shared with pickleball.
Tennis players pushed back.

“We want to make sure there are tennis courts for everyone who wants to play tennis,” said Martha Ehrenfeld, co-chair of the Tennis Coalition of San Francisco.

She said tennis has also grown in popularity during COVID.
Rec and Park said there are currently 139 tennis courts throughout the city and pickleball has 59 with only 11 courts dedicated solely to the sport.

Hundreds of people gathered in a community meeting to give Rec and Park their thoughts on 4 options for the type of land that will go to Stern Grove.

Only one option included tennis.

“We would rather find an alternative to removing tennis courts from tennis,” said Lois Anne Indorf of the San Francisco Tennis Coalition.

“Until pickleball, I had never seen such a diverse community, racially, socially, age-wise and economically,” said self-described addicted pickleball player Nate Valentine.

A nonprofit group said it donated $108,000 to resurface tennis courts in Stern Grove before the flooding.

“We do not support the permanent conversion of these courts to pickleball. We would like these courts to reopen as tennis courts with pickleball boards,” said Seth Socolow, executive director of San Franciscans for Sports and Recreation.

The Recreation and Parks Commission will ultimately decide whether Stern Grove will be a pickleball-only venue.

It is not yet known when a decision will be made.

But a Rec and Park official said it will be soon as a lot of work has already been done on this issue.

Amber Lee is a reporter at KTVU. Email Amber at or text/leave message at 510-599-3922. Follow her on Facebook @AmberKTVU, Instagram @AmberKTVU or Twitter @AmberKTVU

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