How a private club feud led to public tennis court upgrades around San Francisco

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ByJessica Castro KGO logo
Friday, June 29, 2018
A private feud led to public tennis court upgrades around San Francisco
Nearly $1 million is going toward resurfacing more than 10 percent of San Francisco's public tennis courts, thanks to a feud between developers and tennis players in 2016.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Several public tennis courts in San Francisco are getting an upgrade. Courts across the city are being resurfaced thanks to an $864,000 grant. The money comes from a local nonprofit named San Franciscans for Sports and Recreation.

Newly resurfaced courts at Mountain Lake Park will be open by the July 4th holiday.

"We were really interested in making sure tennis courts all over the city were resurfaced," explained Seth Socolow, founder of the nonprofit and an avid tennis player.

"We also wanted to help bring courts in most need of resurfacing back to being playable," Socolow said.

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The group has resurfaced 15 courts in eight months. That's roughly 10 percent of the public tennis courts in San Francisco.

The courts at Mountain Lake Park in the Richmond are some of latest to be improved. "This is certainly going to be a highlight of the park," said Nathan Tinclair, assistant director of partnerships for the San Francisco Rec and Parks Department.

"I think it's incredibly important for a community," Socolow said. "The San Francisco Rec and Parks Departments runs a lot of different programs for children at their different facilities."

How the nonprofit got the money for the courts is "an interesting story," Socolow explained. A 2016 feud between players and developers at San Francisco Tennis Club, a local private tennis club on 5th Street and Brannan, got public attention. Hundreds of people signed a petition to keep the club from shutting down.

The public outrage nearly led to the issue being on the ballot box in November 2016. But the developer had a change of heart.

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"They agreed to rebuild our tennis club at the current site with 12 indoor courts. But because we were losing 12 outdoor courts, the developer agreed to help us channel money into public facilities to restore public tennis courts. So that's where the money came from," Socolow said.

Now the nonprofit has a wonderful relationship with the developer and they're resurfacing public courts across San Francisco as a "thank you" to supporters who rallied to save the club two years ago, according to Socolow.

There are more than 140 public courts in all of San Francisco.

San Franciscans for Sports and Recreation plans to resurface courts in Portrero Hill and Silver Terrace next year.

For more on San Franciscans for Sports and Recreation, click here.

For more about tennis programs offered by SF's Rec and Parks Department, click here.