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Tennis versus pickleball debate in Langley

Tennis players push back against a proposal to convert courts to provide more pickleball spaces
Some Langley tennis players have come out against a call by a group of group of Langley Township pickleball players to convert what they described as underused tennis courts. (Back Press Media files)

Some Langley Township tennis players are pushing back against a proposal they say would create more pickleball courts at the expense of their sport.

Lionel Anker and Drew Gauntley were reacting to a call by a group of group of Township pickleball players to convert what they view as underused tennis courts.

In a Jan. 29 presentation to council, pickleball group spokesperson Bill Mercer argued public tennis courts in Township sit empty for the majority of the time, when there were just four stand-alone pickleball courts in the community, at West Langley Park.

“Tennis players seldom play when it is wet because it is difficult to play with a wet tennis ball,” Mercer told the Langley Advance Times.

“You very seldom see tennis being played on these courts in the winter. Seasonal weather or wet courts does not have the same effect on pickleballers. They play outside 12 months a year.”

READ ALSO: Players press for more pickleball space in Langley Township

In a March 11 presentation, Anker and Gauntley told Township council building new pickleball courts is a better solution, and challenged the claim that tennis courts could be considered under-used.

“A wet tennis ball is not what keeps us from playing tennis in the winter, rather it is a safety issue” Anker said.

“We should consider empty tennis courts as we do for empty baseball diamonds and soccer fields and respect that there are not always games going on, especially in the winter months,” Anker maintained.

“How can you argue that tennis courts that are at times empty in the winter but brimming with tennis players in the summer should be converted permanently to pickleball especially when there are many more tennis players?”

Anker estimated there are more than four pickleball courts available, with 14 tennis courts in the Township painted with pickleball lines as well were eight pickleball courts in Langley City.

“Tennis fully supports pickleball but only through new construction courts which provide balanced access for both sports” Anker said. “Tennis court conversions and line painting do not.”

Gauntley said once at least 10 new pickleball courts were built, the painted lines on tennis courts would be removed.

Council was presented with a petition with more than 560 names supporting the proposal.

After their presentation, Anker and Gauntley met with Mayor Eric Woodward.

Anker told the Langley Advance Times “there is not much more to report [from the meeting with the mayor] other than the Township is considering options regarding pickleball.”

Anker said council has adopted a motion to investigate what space availability exists in existing or future parks so that it can identify a solution that will serve both sports

Asked if he felt they received a fair hearing, Anker said “I think we did, but time will tell.”

READ ALSO: Tennis business expands into Langley

Dan Ferguson

About the Author: Dan Ferguson

Best recognized for my resemblance to St. Nick, I’m the guy you’ll often see out at community events and happenings around town.
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