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Sound is main concern in pickleball, tennis court sharing

Park City is conducting a community survey on Pickleball through February 16th. (AP Photo/Matt York)
Matt York
The Park City Council is considering putting out a bond to voters in November, to fund a new recreation facility in Quinn’s Junction, which would include indoor pickleball courts.

The Park City MARC recently tested whether tennis and pickleball players could play side by side and found sound to be the main issue in coexistence.

Courts can be hard to come by in Park City during the winter.

Pickleball players have said the hours they’re allocated for the MARC bubble during the colder months are unfair, saying tennis players get the best hours to reserve courts.

By splitting up the courts, the city’s recreation director Ken Fisher said he wanted to evaluate if the two sports could play side by side.

Players completed surveys after their court time. In total, 67 surveys were submitted, about 60% tennis players, with the remainder being pickleballers.

Racquet sports division manager Cole Johnston said there was a general consensus.

“Our tennis patrons had a hard time with the noise,” Johnston said. “Pickleball players were obviously happy to play side by side. There was some concern with tennis players being able to communicate with each other, hearing the ball, and just the acoustics in the bubble.”  

Pickleball uses a harder ball and harder racket than tennis, and it's noisier during play.

Fisher said they plan to work on a court management strategy for next winter over the coming months, and they’ll consider whether the two sports can coexist.

“I think you could on certain days and times,” Fisher said. “I think the biggest thing is that people need to know in advance what they’re getting into. Pickleball community has said, ‘Hey, there’s an empty tennis court, how come we can’t just go out there and play?’ And I think as long as the public knows in advance that side-by-side play could occur, then it is a possibility to do that.”

One solution that’s been proposed is to build more courts. The Park City Council is considering putting a bond out to voters in November, to fund a new recreation facility in Quinn’s Junction, which would include indoor pickleball courts.

Joe Plumin is the president of the Park City Pickleball Club, which has more than 1,000 members. He’s in support of building the new facility.

“I think it’s more just about court preservation time,” Plumin said. “I think that becomes the ongoing root of the issue — finding capacity for both sports. And I don’t think pickleball wins by taking something from tennis, but at the same time, I think that the city needs to recognize that there’s a big population of players and there should be equity in terms of allocating capacity.

Plumin said while building indoor courts for winter play is crucial, the city should also seek out opportunities to build outdoor courts, which are less expensive.