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Menlo Park: Strife on tennis courts leads to threats, police intervention

Original post made on Feb 14, 2014

Sportsmanship has been in short supply on Menlo Park's tennis courts of late, as clashes over reservations have led to police calls and, in some cases, threats of bodily harm.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, February 14, 2014, 9:02 AM

Comments (14)

Posted by pearl
a resident of another community
on Feb 14, 2014 at 1:21 pm

I have a solution: Buy all the troublemakers a one-way ticket to downtown Kabul.

Short of that, the City of Menlo Park needs to send regs and rules reminders out NOW to avoid any further confrontations.

The City of Menlo Park could have a volunteer sitting there at the gate with a list of the reservations, and also times that the courts are open to the public. People wanting to use the tennis courts would have to check in with this volunteer before starting to play.

(Side Note: The volunteer could trade in accumulated volunteer hours for free play time on the court.)

Every time I read a story like this of people behaving badly, I think of our deployed troops who would gladly trade places with any one of them in a heartbeat. Shame on us!!!

Posted by SteveC
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 14, 2014 at 3:48 pm

SteveC is a registered user.

This is the macho attitude of todays adults. They have the opinion they can do whatever they want at anytime or they will kick ass. They keys should be revoked when un sportsmanship occurs first time offense.

Posted by MP Tennis Player
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 14, 2014 at 5:55 pm

The instructor who teaches clinics for the City of Menlo Park is there regularly and should not be interfered with. But the City needs to come up with a better policy when other people reserve the courts. There is no prior notice that they are reserving the courts and often no proof. More than 50% of the courts are not supposed to be reserved at any one time but that's not always the case. I actually disagree with the reservation policy. It only costs about $10 per hour to reserve a court. Last year some kid from La Entrada School (which is NOT in the MP School District and they have their own courts!)had reserved 3 courts on a Friday afternoon. That was outrageous. I have not been to the courts in months so was not involved in the above, but I can sympathize with people being upset when they've paid for a key and make arrangements to play tennis after work or whatever...and then go there and get kicks off the courts by someone with reservations and NO PRIOR NOTICE! The lack of notice and announcements about the reservations is the bad part. A solution would be some sort of online reservation system where you could check ahead of time and see if the courts have been reserved! That way you won't arrange your day to go there and then be surprised to not find a court. Also, I would increase the reservation fee to $20 per hour (other than for Jim who teaches for the City of MP). This would discourage people from reserving multiple courts. And frankly anyone teaching private lessons would have to pay a hefty fee anywhere else.

Posted by Kaz
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 15, 2014 at 2:26 pm

As a kid, I noticed the hostility of adult players to kids. The anger expressed above that some "La Entrada" student could have dared reserve three courts -- my goodness. Part of La Entrada's population lives in city limits. "Kids" should not be denied access to the courts based on age. Maybe it's a tennis player personality trait, but there seem to be a few people involved here who think their time is more valuable than anybody else's. Perhaps you are high and mighty in areas of your life, but happily that does not give you a greater claim on public facilities than anyone else.

Posted by Bob
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Heights
on Feb 15, 2014 at 8:00 pm

MP tennis player, you should be aware that while not all of La Entrada's school district is in Menlo Park, the school itself IS in Menlo Park, and the courts at La Entrada ARE part of the Menlo Park tennis key program. I lived across the street from La Entrada for 11 years, and I paid Menlo Park for a resident's tennis key every year to use those (and other MP) tennis courts.


Posted by Roger Peters
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 16, 2014 at 7:25 am

I agree with MP Tennis Player. One of the issues that upsets residents is that one of the instructors grabs court 5 also outside of reservation times - he shows up more than an hour before the reservation starts and conveniently stays on the court between two reservations. When some of us started calling the Menlo Park recreation department, we discovered that instructor had never made any reservations before.
All of this can easily be solved: MP should post (and update) clear notices of the reservation times. That way there is no uncertainty. No one would feel the need to call the police.

Posted by friend of someone involved
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Feb 16, 2014 at 7:55 am

Sandy/Almanac has it wrong. It was the instructor who threatened to hit tennis balls at a resident when the resident entered the court to ask for proof of reservation (in front of his student) - a prior phone call to MP rec had revealed that the instructor DID NOT have a reservation. Menlo Park, please post and update all reservations ahead of time. Almanac, check your facts.

Posted by Cmon
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 16, 2014 at 9:35 am

My suggestions would be to make the set hours for instructors like Jim Heebner known through a posting at the courts - best on those courts. It is best if his lessons remain only on those courts and only during designated hours. Any other reservations should be accompanied by proof -- print out, for example. If the intent is to use courts for lessons, then the reservation fee should be notably higher since the instructor is not only taking a court but also being paid by their client. In many locales, there are not reservations but just a sign up board. A bit of the honor system but it does take away from the stress of reservations. We use the courts often and have never reserved.

As to Jim Heebner's "official" lessons, I also think it helps if he is attuned to keeping all the balls on his court, limiting shouting to students, and limited or prohibited from drawing lines on the courts. He can use tape temporarily during the lesson but marking up courts is a bit off a distraction, as is the business and volume of a group lesson.

Lessons are great but we are all seeing the constraints we now have with so few public courts.

Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Feb 16, 2014 at 9:52 am

Pearl was right. She started this thread by writing: "Buy all the troublemakers a one-way ticket to downtown Kabul."

But now, the behavior on both sides of this "controversy" appears to be pretty strange/immature/entitled for adults, and it is incredible that it has gotten to this point.

The town should post tennis court rules and the players should obey them. But, if they don't, I guess the "tennis court wars" will continue to give the Atherton police something to do besides giving tickets to people who go 27 mph instead of 25 mph.

Posted by Roger Peters
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 16, 2014 at 12:17 pm

"Neighbor", thanks you for the insensitive remarks about Kabul - talk about being immature.

What Catherine Carlton and all are missing is that Menlo Park Recreations RECOMMENDS that you call the police when someone is giving a tennis lesson on a court without reservation.

BTW, the new teacher (not Jim) that always takes the best, separate court (5) refuses to show proof until the police shows up.

Also, when people call the police that means that they are avoiding conflict. No one is getting shot, Vice Mayor Carlton, please set the drama level down a notch. I understand the desire to seem relevant as a local politician but i'm sure you can find a more worthwhile issue to leak to the press than a few residents that are trying to get a dishonest and disrespectful tennis pro to book the courts he is using ALL THE TIME.

Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Feb 16, 2014 at 12:57 pm

I assure you that I am sensitive to Kabul and I'm sure you know very well that I meant quite the opposite of any jest.
(In fact the original Kabul reference came from Pearl's 1st letter on this thread).

My message was to get your priorities in order and solve your tennis disputes amongst yourselves.

In this scary world, your tennis court problems are smaller than minuscule -- and fighting about them either on the court in the newspaper is childish. In fact it sounds like elementary school stuff. Work it out amongst yourselves so that the police don't have to intervene in your entitlements disputes.

What kind of outraged complaints and arguments on this website are next? Neighbor disputes? (Here comes the "don't park on the public street in front of my house" gang. OMG are letters about marriage disputes next?


Posted by pearl
a resident of another community
on Feb 17, 2014 at 12:50 pm

O.k., a one-way ticket to East Jesus, Nevada. Whatever. The point being to get the troublemakers out of everyone's hair so people can enjoy themselves on the courts.

Posted by pearl
a resident of another community
on Feb 17, 2014 at 1:02 pm

A couple of people suggested that folks sign up on-line for the playing time slots they want. Great idea! Then the only thing you would have to figure out is how to notify people who do not use computers. Surely the City of Menlo Park has in its employ a rocket scientist or two who could figure this all out. Come on, folks, it ain't that complicated!!! ; )

Posted by Nealon Neighbor
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 17, 2014 at 11:19 pm

The point is that there are people teaching on the courts, who are not following the rules set by the City.

It's simple, just follow the rules, people. Reserve and pay for your courts. Be nice to others and show sportsman/woman like conduct.

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