More than 50 tennis players hoisted their rackets into the air and unfurled a banner that read Let’s Rally for Tennis during a sit-in on Court 3 at the public courts in Little Cates Park Friday morning (July 2).
The purpose of the 11 a.m. rally was to serve notice and demonstrate to elected officials the importance of preserving purpose-built courts for their intended activities, according to the North Vancouver Tennis Society, which organized the event.
“We’d like tennis courts to stay as such. We’re happy to help and support pickleball to find dedicated courts, but we are not interested in multi-lining,” said Michael Anderson, tennis society president.
Tennis players currently have access to about 40 courts across the municipality, while district pickleballers have access to five dedicated courts at Murdo Frazer and three shared-used courts, including one already at Little Cates Park, according to the district.
In addition, there are four permanent, purpose-built pickleball courts at Mahon Park in the City of North Vancouver and three courts at 29th Street and Marine Drive in West Vancouver.
Pickleball is a racket sport that’s smaller in scale compared to tennis but has boomed in popularity in recent years.
For years, tennis players and pickleballers have worked together with the district to find workable compromises to pickleball’s lack of dedicated space as interest in the sport grew.
Recently, however, the tennis society made it apparent through emails to membership that multi-lining on Court 3 at Little Cates Park – which would have forced tennis players to share the court in turn with pickleballers – could proceed only over the strong objections of the society.
“Where there’s already a shortage of tennis courts, it doesn’t seem fair to reduce capacity on an already limited supply on what has been built as a purpose-built tennis facility,” said tennis society vice-present Marcus Shapiro, who said there hadn’t been a “good-faith effort” to reach an agreement with tennis users by pickleball stakeholders and the district.
As reasons for their objections, Shapiro pointed to the tennis society disagreeing with the planned pickleball line placements as well as a lack of commitment to signage indicating the arrangement would be temporary.
In an emailed statement to the North Shore News, district spokeswoman Cassie Brondgeest said painting had been deferred for the time being.
“We are looking at options to balance the needs of all court users. We hope to have more information soon,” stated Brondgeest. “Over the last couple days the decision was made to delay painting. This gives us time to consider our options and to ensure we’re balancing the interests of all court users.”
District resident and avid pickleball player Susan Anderson said in lieu of more dedicated spaces being built for pickleball, some kind of compromise needed to be reached.
On Friday morning, Anderson was playing pickleball in the shared-used court at Little Cates, which was refurbished from the court’s tennis practice wall some years ago for the purpose of accommodating pickleballers.
“We are always crammed in here,” said Anderson. “We feel we should have equal access to a community-built racket facility. … We have no pickleball courts, other than these two, east of the Seymour River.”