ASHEVILLE, N.C. (WLOS) — Emails have been flooding into Asheville City Council members' inboxes, wanting to know, what is going to happen to the tennis courts at Murphy-Oakley Park.
Asheville Parks & Recreation officials have submitted plans to convert all three tennis courts at the park into eight fully-dedicated pickleball courts.
But Asheville Tennis Association board member Jeff Joyce said the plan is far from finalized and the association object to it.
"We have lost too many tennis courts in recent years," Joyce said.
In addition to heavy use by community members, the tennis courts at Murphy-Oakley have been used for decades by A.C. Reynolds Middle School for home games and practices. If the courts at Murphy-Oakley are restricted to pickleball only, the tennis teams will be disbanded without tennis courts of their own.
"It's not just a tennis court. This is a place where our middle schoolers get to just be kids," tennis mom Erin Vandermore said. "They get to create those bonds, create those memories and I don't want that taken away from them."
Members of the Asheville pickleball community said they are tired of having no real place to play. Currently, there are no dedicated pickleball courts in Asheville. Of the 11 free public tennis courts in Asheville, only six have faint lines for pickleball. Players must bring their own nets.
U.S. Pickleball Association Ambassador for Buncombe County, Yira Pia Sanchez, said pickleball "is homeless in this town. It is the only sport in Asheville without a dedicated playing area, and players constantly struggle to find places to play."
Pickleball player Alice Madden is from a small town in Michigan that provides dedicated courts and all equipment needed to play.
"It's really unbelievable, moving here to Asheville with a population of 100,000, I think, that we don't have any courts devoted to pickleball at all," Madden said.
Joyce said the Asheville Tennis Association believes there should be pickleball courts in town.
"We are all for pickleball having its own dedicated facility. We just oppose it being at tennis' expense," he said.
Eight members are representing each sport in negotiations with Asheville City Council and the Park and Recreation Department.
Conversations are ongoing, with no final decisions yet.