Battle brews between tennis, pickleball communities

SAN DIEGO – A battle is brewing not on the tennis court, but over who gets to play on it at Robb Field in Ocean Beach.

The tennis community is fighting back after the San Diego pickleball community has proposed taking over the 40-year-old set of tennis courts.

Dozens from both sides of the issue gathered at Mission Bay Park Tuesday evening ahead of a committee meeting to make each of their stances clear.

“We have no dedicated pickleball courts in the parks in San Diego proper,” Stephan Boyland said.

While John Broderick, president of the San Diego Tennis Association, said “there’s no reason we should be pushed out of there.”

Boyland’s group is pushing for converting the 12 tennis courts at Robb Field into 36 pickleball courts. He also suggested those who play tennis at Robb Field could merge with nearby Barnes Tennis Center.

“There’s empty tennis courts all over the place,” said Debby Merickel, who is hoping for a dedicated space for pickle ball.

Meanwhile, members of the Peninsula Tennis Club, which plays at Robb Field, says they are a viable club.

“We have 500 members. If they want to go build something, there is a process that you go through with the city,” Todd Sprauge said.

Those in the pickleball group argue that’s easier said than done.

“There’s really no real estate in San Diego, let’s make good use of the real estate that we have,” Paul Smit said.

The two sides had the opportunity to present their point of view to the Mission Bay Park Committee, which could offer its own recommendation regarding the courts to San Diego parks and recreation. However, as of now, parks and recreation has no plans to repurpose Robb Field.

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