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Pickleball team Andres Espinoza, left, and Ryan West-DeLuca play on a designated pickleball court on April 20 at Poinsettia Park in Carlsbad. Photo by Steve Puterski
Pickleball team Andres Espinoza, left, and Ryan West-DeLuca play on a designated pickleball court on April 20 at Poinsettia Park in Carlsbad. Photo by Steve Puterski
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Pickleball, tennis players look for compromise at Poinsettia Park

CARLSBAD — The rise of pickleball continues at a meteoric rate across the United States. And with six pickleball courts, Carlsbad’s 42-acre Poinsettia Park has become a popular destination for local players.

The pickleball courts are so popular, some players wait 30 minutes or longer for a space to become available, which has the city considering increasing the number of shared courts (pickleball and tennis) at the park.

In addition to the pickleball courts, Poinsettia Park, the largest public tennis complex in the city, offers 10 lighted tennis courts. Since one tennis court is equivalent to four pickleball courts, some picklers believe there is plenty more space to share.

Picklers Elliott Fritz, Andrew Espinoza and Ryan West-DeLuca, who picked up the “addictive” sport during the pandemic, said the city needs more pickleball courts, and a possible sharing situation with the tennis courts is a suitable compromise.

“It’s almost not worth driving over sometimes because it’s so busy,” West-DeLuca said, who used to play tennis. “There’s more of us, so I think they can spare one (tennis court). It would give us four (pickleball) courts.”

But for some tennis players, court-sharing with picklers is a burdensome notion. Since both sports play on the same surface, the conflict between players of the two sports has only increased with pickleball’s growing popularity.

Eric Jew, a tennis coach at Sage Creek High School, said a solution is likely to be found, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of tennis courts. Residents are not permitted access to use the school’s courts at any time, and high school tennis players do not have access to courts after school hours.

“There’s not very many courts all around San Diego County,” Jew said of pickleball. “It’s growing so quickly that tennis courts are being impacted. It’s a longer game (tennis), and if there are fewer courts, it’s going to take longer. I agree there should be more pickleball courts, but not at the expense of tennis courts.”

While both games involve paddles and balls, pickleball and tennis are significantly different. Pickleball is played at a much quicker pace, while tennis involves multiple sets. Earlier this year, city staff conducted a six-week usage study and found pickleball usage was higher than tennis, but provided no data.

“Both advocate groups preferred dedicated (non-shared) courts, and neither has expressed a change in that preference,” said Kyle Lancaster, the city’s Parks and Recreation Director. “We are just finishing an updated Parks & Recreation Master Plan, which will be presented to the City Council for review in the coming months. At that time, we will share the feedback from the community about pickleball courts as well as other new or expanded amenities. Pickleball courts are amenities that could be considered for future park sites, e.g., Robertson Ranch Community Park and Zone 5 Park, depending on the site-specific community engagement and conceptual planning.”

Bobby Riggs Tennis Club in nearby Encinitas has repurposed nearly all its courts for pickleball, but players must pay a membership fee to play.

Lancaster said the city is continuing its goal of providing a variety of amenities, such as pickleball courts, and adapting to new sports and trends. The city’s master plan could provide a roadmap with various possibilities to expand pickleball citywide, but the City Council will make the final decision, Lancaster said.

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