OB Rag Makes National News – Over Pickleball Brouhaha at Robb Field Last July

by on October 7, 2022 · 19 comments

in Ocean Beach, Sports

On Thursday, October 6, the OB Rag made national news. The Guardian newspaper ran a long piece about the “escalating war between pickleball and tennis players” across America. It began:

There’s a storm brewing on the tennis courts of America. Admittedly a very middle class, middle-aged storm, but a storm nonetheless. On one side are the tennis players, with their eons of history, perfectly pressed shorts and thousands of dollars to spend on lessons. And on the other are the advocates for America’s fastest growing athletic pursuit: pickleball.

Almost 5 million people in the US are classed as pickleball players, depending on how closely you read the pickleball-published statistics, and in the last two years the number of people playing pickleball has grown by almost 40%.

With towns and cities across the country erecting dedicated pickleball courts, the sport will surely continue its expansion. But while that may be music to the ears of pickleballers, the tennis players are not happy about their court space being eroded and the feud between the two ball-hitting factions is only likely to get worse.

The article went on and described various incidents across the country.

… in 2021, pickleball courts in Santa Rosa, California, were closed for several days after “at least six quarts of oil were spilled” on to their surface, the Press Democrat reported. Lying in the oil was a “profanity-laced note”, according to the newspaper, in which the writer threatened to scratch the cars of any pickleball players.

In New York, tennis players are making the dubious claim that they’re the true sport of working people. Brooklyn-based group Club Leftist Tennis recently launched an anti-pickleball lobbying campaign, tweeting: “Reminder: pickleball is an astroturfed, venture capital-backed parasite on public space,” in September.

Reports of the animosity go on. The Dink, a pickleball news website, reported that an unnamed person had made a number of stickers which read: “Tennis players against pickleball, get your wiffle balls off our courts”, while on a pickleball thread on Reddit one player said they had witnessed “a couple of fights between tennis players and [pickleball] players at my local playground”.

Then the piece spoke about San Diego:

The row over space and sport has led the city of San Diego to recruit Jodie Adams, a lecturer at Missouri State University who specializes in park management, to mediate between pickleball and tennis players, while the US Tennis Association issued a slightly sniffy Statement of Guidance on how both pickleball and tennis can be accommodated in cities. (USTA’s verdict is essentially to build pickleball specific facilities, but it offers no suggestions as to where the money will come from.)

Not all pickleball players are blameless. They can be jerks, too. In July police were called in San Diego, California, after a group of pickleball players commandeered a tennis court and began to play. The pickleballers were eventually removed, the OB Rag reported, “but not until they had played on the court for approximately 40 minutes”.

Earlier this year, Arslan Guney, from Denver, Colorado, was arrested on a felony charge of criminal mischief after he used a permanent marker to delineate pickleball boundaries on a basketball court. Guney escaped prosecution on the charge – which carries a prison term of up to three years – after he agreed to pay about $5,000 damages and write a letter of apology.

Go here for the balance of the article.

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Geoff Page October 7, 2022 at 12:37 pm

The Rag now has an international reach! Well done, Frank!


Chris October 7, 2022 at 3:43 pm

What would be even more entertaining than pickle ball players taking over the tennis courts would be bike polo hipsters. I would love to see this happen in San Diego:


Chris October 7, 2022 at 3:52 pm

Pickleball has become the punk rock of paddlesports. As an old punk rocker, there is just something kind of satisfying about ruining other people’s enjoyment with the presence of people they don’t want around them. On the other hand, pickleball looks fun.


FrankF October 8, 2022 at 7:29 am

And…..as I get onto east bound I-8 I’ve noticed construction activity at the Barnes Tennis Center. Could they be building more pickle ball courts??

This tennis-pickleball war reminds me of the assholery of young men in the line up, fist fighting over wave access. Humans can be funny and pathetic critters!


Debby Merickel October 21, 2022 at 5:28 am

This does not have to be a “war”. When there are so many empty tennis courts and no available courts for pickleball one would think sharing might be a solution! It reminds me of how downhill skiers wanted the mountains all to themselves and hated the snowboarders.


Janis Gordon October 21, 2022 at 7:14 am

This contentious debate over courts is childish and humiliating. The problem, as I see it, is that the City of San Diego needs to GET WITH THE PROGRAM! Every other major city in the country has recognized that pickleball is the fastest growing sport in the country and has provided players with dedicated courts/facilities. Give us equal access to recreation. We pay taxes too.


Suede Boer October 21, 2022 at 7:31 am

City Officials should support the Non-Profit 501c3 Pickleball-SD permit application at NO COST to the city! Let’s update the area NOW for the benefit of our local business and citizens.


paul October 21, 2022 at 8:43 am

Tennis players used to come out in numbers and fill courts for the love of the game. At worst, tennis is an Athletes sport and once elite and used space poorly for the unskilled player. At best, it’s a spectacle to see players run and perform shots of all flavors and demanding cheers and claps from on lookers… Pickleball at its worst is loud. The paddle might make a sound when contacted with the ball but its the boisterous grand old time that any player of any skill will let you know they are having… A Good time. The bastard child of tennis and badminton and ping pong is way more fun, for way more people, and anything but elite… oh and the ELITE are invited to play too…. and they are to cheers and clapping.


Frank Gormlie October 21, 2022 at 9:09 am

There’s been lots of debate over what happened that day in late July. But I think these are the facts:
– pickleball players showed up at the Pen Tennis center, disrupted staff and some tennis players, SD police were called and showed up; and pickleball players played for 40 minutes to 2 hours.


David C October 21, 2022 at 10:30 am

I was there. Here are the facts. Anyone that was “disrupted” was disrupted because they threw a fit because they didn’t like seeing us there. Staff and later arriving tennis players didn’t like that we were using one of the six very empty tennis courts. If they had not decided to verbally abuse us, we all could have co-existed in a very big and empty open space. Police showed up, affirmed we were not breaking any laws and that we had a legal right to be there. Once police confirmed this, we left of our own accord.


Frank Gormlie October 21, 2022 at 12:07 pm

This conversation has been going on for months! You’ve said your piece, made your views known, so be done with it — as you keep repeating yourselves.


Janis October 21, 2022 at 2:16 pm

Players are seeking a resolution to this issue from our elected officials.
Until then……


Suede Boer October 21, 2022 at 4:20 pm

Yes Janis, you are so right! We all need to be loud!
Citizens should expect transparency, fairness and facts to drive the permit process for ANY of our valuable recreational space at Robb Field and beyond.
“America’s finest City” and our elected officials can do the right thing!


Linda October 22, 2022 at 11:23 am

Yes I agree, this conversation has been going on much too long!

I am curious why city elected officials have allowed some public courts to sit idle under Tennis control for months? Pickleball has requested a special use permit for a fraction of those unused public courts to benefit a broader more diverse group of our residents to no avail. Both Tennis and Pickleball could and should thrive in San Diego.


Stefan Boyland October 21, 2022 at 9:34 am

We arrived at 2:45pm and left at 4:45pm on own accord. I have over 2 hours of footage of our entire visit. We used just one of the 6 EMPTY tennis courts. The place was absolutely dead quiet. You can see in our video. We disrupted no one! During our 2nd hour there two tennis courts of the 6 got used. Some tennis players threatened came over and harassed us, threatened us and cursed us put. We were respectful the whole time. The City has not responded to our requests to use these courts and to consider our permit application.

At 4:30pm the youth tennis camp ended and tennis leaders paraded the kids over to disparage us and watch the hoopla. I have video of one tennis leader riling the kids and their parents up until one finally exploded on us screaming for us to leave their courts. We were calm and respectful the entire time. And empathetic to the tennis players.

Police affirmed our right to use the public courts as no one had a permit for the property. Within 5 minutes or so after the police left, I announced that we would be packing up and leaving. And you can audibly here the 5pm tennis players thank me.

We were not there to disrupt ordinary tennis players but to make a point that these courts are for the entire public not the privileged few. And that we can share courts and there is plenty of room for all. And City rules permit this. When we left just before 5pm only 3 of the 6 tennis courts were in use. Plenty for everyone to play on.

We had over 7,500 views of the video and it shows all of this. Unfortunately Robert Simmons, 25-year instructor at PTC, was not even there the day he writes about and disingenuously spreads false rumors about what happened and how long we were there.

Let the PTC folks that are in the video respond on the record if they would. At least they were there. And watch our video if you want the truth. It’s all there! Just takes little fact checking.

Thank you,

Stefan Boyland


David C October 21, 2022 at 10:52 am

Poorly researched reporting by the Guardian. The article says that the city recruited Jodie Adams a “parks” expert”. Although she is a very experienced parks and rec professional, she is also extremely pro-tennis. The rest of the story that The Guradian didn’t report is that the United States Tennis Association gave the city a grant to hire Ms. Adams. The city did not seek her out. USTA hand picked “the expert”. She is currently working for USTA as a consultant. Here are her own words on the USTA website.
“Currently, I’m working with the USTA as a consultant, focusing on growing tennis through the parks and working with key partners to make that happen. Since more than 70% of tennis is played at public facilities, we need to continue to grow and renovate those venues to ensure that future generations continue to have a healthy, public alternative for staying fit physically and mentally through tennis.”

Tell me how pickleball will get a fair shake when the city’s professional consultant is is a paid consultant the powerful tennis lobby and life long tennis player?



FrankF October 21, 2022 at 11:50 am

Lord know I don’t want to start a pissing match, but this is co-use or balanced-use of city parks is very important. The popularity of certain sports varies. I remember 30 years ago there wasn’t any youth soccer or rugby. That’s changed…a lot!

Every time I drive up Pershing Blvd I see a typically empty city-owned Balboa Park golf course on one side and an always crowded city-owned frisbee golf course on the other side. Hmmmm?

And if you guys think the tennis mafia is strong, you would be shocked at how the city’s golf course mafia works!!

The outcome of the pickleball-tennis war should be a more responsive use policy at the City of San Diego. No longer can one powerful user group dictate use and policy decisions over city assets.


Barbara October 22, 2022 at 8:24 am

Frank, At first I thought you were pro tennis and anti pickleball but your last paragraph tells me you are a fair person. Agreed… there must be a more responsive use policy by the City of San Diego and no longer can one powerful user group dictate use and policy decisions over city assets. Well said.


K NIKKI WATERS October 28, 2022 at 6:36 pm

Pickleball players were not “Jerks”, just used public courts that were without an active permit.
Seems like the those managing the facility would want to keep the management of their business above board–clearly it is not that way, with expired permits, lack of sharing records and thus denying tax paying citizens an opportunity to use the facility that we citizens have paid for!


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