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Meadowbrook Pickleball and Tennis Courts

Resurfacing

Introduction

This document presents the Seattle Metro Pickleball Association's recommendations for establishing equitable tennis and pickleball court lines on the Meadowbrook pickleball and tennis courts in Seattle.

Recommendations

1. Create 20 Pickleball Courts

The space is large enough to accommodate 20 regulation-size pickleball courts. Limiting the number of pickleball courts to 12 would be a poor allocation of resources.

On the picture below, slide the blue dot towards the left to compare the recommended 20-court layout to the Seattle Parks Department's proposed 12-court layout.

Waiting area Waiting area 5' 9' 9' 9.5' 9.75' 5' 7.75' 8' 8' 8' 8' 8' 8' 8' 8'
19.75' 27.75' 27.75' 19.75' 8' 8' 8' 8' 8' 8' 8' 8'

2. Include A Waiting Area Inside Each Fenced Enclosure

Pickleball players need a space to congregate and socialize while waiting for a game.

The Meadowbrook courts are comprised of two sets of tennis courts, each in their own fenced enclosure. We recommend allocating space for a waiting area in each enclosure.

3. Adopt Independent Lines

Overlapping lines create confusion. We recommend adopting a pickleball court layout that doesn't have any pickleball lines overlapping with tennis lines.

4. Adopt Contrasting Line Colors

We recommend any of the following color schemes:

OR

Both options use traditional colors for the tennis court and tennis lines. They also provide good contrast across all colors.
The first option provides the best contrast between the (blue) court color and the (yellow) tennis and pickleball balls.

A court construction specialist should recommend the exact color shades to provide suitable contrast for play.

On the image below, slide the blue dot from right to left to compare the two recommended color schemes.

5' 9' 9' 9.5' 9.75' 5' 7.75' 8' 8' 8' 8' 8' 8' 8' 8'
5' 9' 9' 9.5' 9.75' 5' 7.75' 8' 8' 8' 8' 8' 8' 8' 8'

5. Adopt Blended Line Intersections

We recommend the adoption of blended line intersections for the most egalitarian treatment of all sports.

If painting blended line intersections is not feasible, we recommend the adoption of crossover line intersections. Since many more pickleball players than tennis players will be using these courts, and since tennis players do have the option of playing at over one hundred courts in Seattle alone lined exclusively for tennis, we recommend that the pickleball lines be painted on top.

6. Adopt an Age Friendly Surface

We recommend the use of a cushioned surface to help protect the knees of older players.

The city's current court resurfacing budget might not allow for a cushioned surface. If that is the case, we ask that Seattle Park and Recreation allow the pickleball and tennis player community to raise the appropriate funds to add a cushioned layer common to modern court construction.

Overview

Guidelines Supporting the Recommendations

Six guidelines

These guidelines shaped our recommendations.

Make efficient use of the available space

When to opt for space optimization

Pilot program

When you introduce pickleball in a new area, it is reasonable to try out options on a small scale. Space optimization is not the main concern early on. For example, a pickleball pilot project might feature a few courts in different configurations. One early option might be to add pickleball lines to a single tennis court that can also be used as a single pickleball court, as is the case at the Observatory Courts in Queen Anne.

Another option is to put two pickleball courts per tennis court as was done at the Walt Hundley courts in West Seattle.

A successful pilot program will demonstrate that pickleball is a sport with a strong social component. Unlike tennis, pickleball players like to play where they know they will find many other players.

Full-fledged program

At the conclusion of a pilot program, resulting in city support for pickleball as any other sport, it is important to recognize that creating many pickleball courts in a single location is essential to the development of a pickleball community.

In a full-fledged pickleball program, it makes little sense to paint lines for a single pickleball court on a single tennis court when you can easily fit two or four pickleball courts in that space. Many tennis complexes fit six to eight pickleball courts on a double tennis court, ten to twelve pickleball courts on a triple tennis court, and twelve to sixteen pickleball courts on a quadruple tennis court.

The value of space optimization

You wouldn't paint lines for two tennis courts when there is room for three courts. Why paint lines for two pickleball courts when there is room for three or four?

Seattle and Seattle Parks face a strong and increasing demand for pickleball courts. Optimizing the existing hard surface courts makes the best possible use of the available space.

Best practices to optimize use of available space

Space-use optimization when adding pickleball lines to existing tennis courts is more of an art than a science. The general ideas underlying it are to:

The basic facts and principles underlying effective space optimization are well-documented by 60-plus years of court development.

A typical playing surface area for a tennis court is 60 feet wide and 120 feet long.

60' 120'

The official USA Pickleball rule book,rule 2.A.3 says:

"The recommended minimum playing surface area measures 30 feet wide and 60 feet long."

30' 60'

When using standard measurements, four pickleball courts fit perfectly on a typical tennis court.

The tennis play area is sometimes not a rectangle. Courts are sometimes designed as rectangle with the corners cut off at a angle, with no standard way of cutting the corners.

60' 120'

For recreational play, tennis courts are sometimes squeezed together. Although each court is supposed to have 10 feet of extra space on each side, two tennis courts laid side-by-side sometimes have only 10 to 12 feet between them instead of 20.

Similarly, pickleball courts laid side-by-side might be squeezed together and have less than 10 feet between them.

Note that this squeezing applies to the width of the play area but not its length. Safety and playability for pickleball dictate a minimum of 8 feet of space behind pickleball baselines.

All tennis courts are oriented north to south. The Association of Tennis Professionals' Official 2020 Rulebook spells out in section 6.01.B.2 that:

"Courts shall be laid out with the long axis north and south; however, geographic considerations may modify this orientation in order to minimize the adverse effect of serving into the sun."

Similar adverse effects of the sun position holds for pickleball, even though it sometimes may seem practical to orient pickleball courts east to west to fit into a less-than-optimal space. To experience play on a pickleball court oriented east-to-west, visit the pickleball courts at the International School in Bellevue, WA, on a sunny evening.

When a court is protected from the rising and setting sun by a hill, a tall building, or tall and dense vegetation, using an east to west orientation might be suitable.

30' 60' right net location mark

Include waiting areas

Why a waiting area?

People waiting for a game of pickleball When people decide to go play tennis, they commonly arrange a twosome or foursome to convene at a specific time and location to play.

While some pickleball players use the same process to organize games, pickleball play is often much more convivial and fluid. During open play, pickleball players may come and go over several hours. Many more pickleball players might congregate than there are available spots to play. Each game lasts 15 to 20 minutes. When a game ends, the players involved rotate out, and some of the players who were waiting rotate in. If there are 10 courts going at the same time, a new game starts every few minutes.

One waiting area or two?

The larger the number of people with whom you interact, the more likely you will find people with whom you enjoy playing. Therefore, it is preferable to have one larger waiting area that can accommodate everyone rather than two smaller waiting areas than will only hold half as many people.

The ideal solution: One waiting area, walking around

The ideal is to have a way to get from a single waiting area to any court without having to walk through other courts. The drawing below illustrates this concept. The black and red lines represent how people move between the waiting area and their court without having to walk across any other courts.

Waiting area

A practical solution: two fenced enclosures, each one with a waiting area

When courts are divided by separate fenced enclosures, there is ideally a single waiting area outside the court enclosures. When impractical to have a single area outside the fenced enclosures, each fenced enclosure should have its own waiting area inside the enclosure.

Waiting area Waiting area

How many people will be waiting?

In our experience, at the peak play times, there will be up to one-and-a-half times as many people waiting as there are people playing pickleball. That means with twenty pickleball courts, there will be 80 people playing and up to 120 people waiting to play.

More ▽

Avoid court-line overlap

What we mean by "overlapping" lines

This document distinguishes crossing lines from overlapping lines.

The following two squares have crossing lines.

Crossing lines are unavoidable on multi-sport courts.

The following two squares have overlapping lines.

Unsurprisingly, it's both possible and beneficial to design multi-sport courts that minimize the number of overlapping lines.

Why overlapping lines matter

When there are two overlapping court lines, one line is viewed as being on top of the other.

Here the yellow line is on top.

Here the red line is on top.

Imagine you have to play a game that requires that you to stand in the red square and not step out of bounds. You can pick any of the following four courts. Which one is your favorite? Which one is your least favorite?

The one with the red square on the bottom?

The one with the red square on top?

The one where neither square is on top?

The one where the squares do not overlap?

The case against overlapping lines

Overlapping lines create confusion because they require that players quickly determine which lines are relevant and which are not. The more complex the overlap design is— involving partial lines, extended lines, and irrelevant lines, — the more confusing it is. Imagine playing a sport on that confusing array of lines.

Take a look at existing multi-sport athletic fields as an example.

These three Magnuson Park multi-sport fields are designed to have almost no line overlap.
The Garfield High School multi-sport field is designed to have almost no line overlap.

All of these fields were designed to have very few overlapping lines across various sports to

Shared pickleball and tennis courts with overlapping lines creates confusion. Flatly, the sport that ends up with its lines on top gets privileged treatment over the other. The privileged sports' players can focus on their line color and ignore the other colors. Whichever sports ends up with its lines on the bottom gets shortchanged. Its players have to sort out which lines of the "other" color are relevant and which ones are not, on the fly, in the midst of a fast game.

Designs for multi-sport courts can and should avoid privileging a particular sport.

The following video shows two tennis courts with lines painted for six pickleball courts. The drone images clearly show all of them from above at the 00:15-second mark. Notice that pickleball courts on the top and bottom of the screen share a sideline with a tennis court. The pickleball courts in the middle do not share any lines with any tennis court.

For players on the top or bottom pickleball courts, most of the pickleball court lines are black, except for a sideline which is partially white. Pickleball players must ignore most of the white lines, except for that one side line. A fast-paced game requires the players to remember which lines are relevant and which ones are not.

In the same video, at the 1:00-minute mark, there is a pickleball player serving a ball. That person and their partner then make their way to what they think is the pickleball non-volley line. However, they mistakenly stop at a white tennis line that is located about two feet from the non-volley line. That particular white line should be ignored for pickleball. This becomes a perfect example of the confusion created by the blended court design where some of the white lines are included in the play, and others are to be ignored.

Had the layout design moved the top and bottom pickleball courts a foot towards the middle courts, there would no longer be any line overlap with the tennis courts. Such a minor design change would greatly help pickleball players who could then ignore all white lines because their courts would be made exclusively of black lines. And it's hard to see how this simple change would inconvenience tennis players.

Not incidentally, the the pickleball rules clearly state that all court lines should be of the same color, a rule that should steer us away from shared tennis court lines.

The case for overlapping lines

When pickleball lines are first added to tennis courts, tennis players are often concerned that the pickleball lines will interfere with tennis play. They ask to see as few pickleball lines as possible. This means that they ask for tennis lines overlapping pickleball lines.

Too often this means that tennis players have court lines all in one color, while pickleball players have to contend with pickleball court lines partially made of tennis lines.

Tennis players have the luxury to ignore all pickleball lines. Pickleball players, however, must figure out which tennis lines are in play and which are not. Moreover, different pickleball courts in the same location, or even two sides of the same pickleball court can end up having different line color patterns.

All the confusion of lines is unnecessary. Were the courts laid out so that tennis and pickleball lines never overlap, then all players can completely ignore the other sport's lines.

For the record, there is nothing in the ITF Rules of Tennis, Association of Tennis Professionals' Official 2020 Rulebook or the Women's Tennis Association's 2020 Official Rulebook that specifies that tennis and pickleball lines should be overlapping.

Optimize line colors

Color rules for tennis court lines

The 2020 ITF Rules of Tennis published by the International Tennis Federation say:

"all lines of the court shall be of the same colour clearly contrasting with the colour of the surface."
The ITF rules do not say that the lines must be white.

However, both the Association of Tennis Professionals' Official 2020 Rulebook and the Women's Tennis Association's 2020 Official Rulebook specify that the:

"lines of the court shall be white."

Tennis blended-lines color rules

To promote tennis amongst younger children, the United States Tennis Association has developed the "10 and Under Tennis" tennis format which uses smaller courts, smaller rackets and slower balls. In doing so, they allowed for lines for the smaller courts to be painted on existing regular tennis courts using "blended" lines.

All three tennis rule books specify that blended lines should be

"within the same colour family as the background playing surface."

Moreover, the United States Tennis Association specifies that

"Currently, courts with permanent blended lines and standard line markings are authorized for professional play by the ITF for both Men's and Women's $15,000 and $25,000 events."
and
"However, ITF Women's $60,000, $80,000 and $100,000, as well as ATP Challengers, are not allowed to have blended lines. Courts with permanent blended lines may be used as practice courts only at these events."

Pickleball court lines color rules

Both the International Federation of Pickleball's 2020 Official Rulebook and the United States Pickleball Association 2020 Official Rulebook say that
"All lines should be [...] of the same color, clearly contrasting with the color of the playing surface."

Line color selection

How to select pickleball and tennis court line colors

Are you going to host professional tennis matches?
↓ Yes
↓ No Check with the sanctioning professional tennis organizations
Are you going to host tennis matches sanctioned by a tennis organization?
↓ Yes
↓ No Check with the sanctioning organization. Most likely, you will not be able to create a true multi-sport court: You will have to use white tennis lines and blended pickleball lines.
Avoid overlapping lines.
Use tennis and pickleball line colors that are clearly contrasting with the color of the playing surface.
For instance:
  • paint the court surface green
  • paint the tennis lines white
  • paint the pickleball lines red or yellow
Avoid overlapping lines.

How to select pickleball and tennis court line colors in Seattle

Tennis courts that will not see USTA-sanctioned play do not need to strictly follow USTA color guidelines and can use player-friendly contrasting colors for pickleball lines.

Are you going to host professional tennis matches?
Yes
↓ No Check with the sanctioning professional tennis organizations
Are you going to host tennis matches sanctioned by a tennis organization?
↓ Yes, at the Amy Yee Tennis Center and Lower Woodland Park according to Seattle parks and Recreation's Pickleball Pilot Study Report, section F.1.2
↓ No At the Amy Yee Tennis Center and Lower Woodland Park
Check with the sanctioning organization. Most likely, you will not be able to create a true multi-sport court: You will have to use white tennis lines and blended pickleball lines.
Avoid overlapping lines.
Everywhere but at the Amy Yee Tennis Center and Lower Woodland Park
Use tennis and pickleball line colors that are clearly contrasting with the color of the playing surface.
For instance:
  • paint the court surface green
  • paint the tennis lines white
  • paint the pickleball lines red or yellow
Avoid overlapping lines.

Is there really no other solution?

If a facility is unlikely to be hosting sanctioned professional tennis tournaments, there is room to be creative.

You could for instance consider adopting a coloring scheme similar to what was done at the Bobby Riggs Tennis Center around 2015 as shown in this video at the 2:58 mark.

Below is an alternate option that emphasizes the tennis courts while using pickleball lines of a single color.

7' 5' 8' 8' 8' 8' 6' 8' 8' 8' 8'

Optimize line intersections

Line intersection options

Good: Accommodating

This is the option often used when adding pickleball lines to tennis courts that need to be able to host sanctioned tennis matches. The sanctioning's tennis organization's rulebook lays out exact specifications.

This option communicates that tennis is the primary sport and yet accommodates pickleball players.

Better: Crossover

This option favors one sport over the other. This is a perfectly good option if the red lines will be used a lot more often than the yellow ones.

This is what is done on Seattle multi-sport athletic fields.

Best: Blended

When fair treatment of everyone is important, blending the line intersections is the perfect option.

Support Healthy Aging

The "Age Friendly Seattle Action Plan"

After the World Health organization (WHO) published its Global Age-friendly Cities guide, the city of Seattle developed its own Age Friendly Seattle Action Plan which states:

"Age Friendly Seattle supports parks and other green spaces [...] that can be used and enjoyed by people of all ages and abilities."
and
"Age Friendly Seattle supports learning, fitness, social, cultural, and spiritual activities for older adults as well as intergenerational activities that are accessible, affordable, safe, and fun."
and
"Goal 5.4: Create opportunities for intergenerational activities [...] and other programs."

Age-friendly pickleball courts

Anyone who plays a court sport might find their knees don't do well when playing extensively on very hard surfaces, and this is exacerbated by age for some players. Fortunately, the sports court industry has developed a method to apply a layer of cushioned rubber between the cement or asphalt base and the top layer of paint.

Since pickleball is one of very few intergenerational physical activities that can be used and enjoyed by people of all ages and abilities, it makes sense to incorporate a cushioned surface when resurfacing courts.

Current State of Affairs

What's going on?

The Seattle Parks and Recreation Department plans to resurface the Meadowbrook Tennis Courts located on the Meadowbrook Playfield, next to the Nathan Hale High School, not far from the Meadowbrook Community Center.

What does Meadowbrook look like right now?

Two sets of three side-by-side tennis courts. Each set is enclosed in a fenced area.


Seattle Parks' current plan

The current plan calls for lines for 12 pickleball courts

All Seattle double and triple tennis courts that have been made to accommodate pickleball lines until now (August 2020) have followed the same pattern with one pickleball court on each side of each tennis net. The Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) Department has not provided an official proposed layout, although it is likely to look like the drawing that follows.

More ▽

Pros and Cons ▽

Isn't there room for more than 12 courts?

20 courts, no waiting area

Courts

The Meadowbrook tennis courts are large enough to accommodate 20 regulation size pickleball play areas.

On the picture below, slide the blue dot towards the left to compare this 20-court layout to the Seattle Park and Recreation Department's current plan for 12 pickleball courts.

More ▽

Waiting area

If there were no need for a "waiting area" inside the fence, this would be a pretty good layout.

In the case of the Meadowbrook courts, there is not enough room for a waiting area outside the courts. On the west side, the courts border a community garden that would be compromised by a waiting crowd. On the east side, the courts border a baseball field. The south side is wooded, elevated and not accessible. Only the north side could conceivably be used as a waiting area, but that area would be too far from the southernmost courts.

More ▽
7' 10' 10.5' 10.5' 10' 7' 8' 8' 8' 8' 8' 8' 8' 8'
7' 10' 10.5' 10.5' 10' 7' 8' 8' 8' 8' 8' 8' 8' 8'

Pros and Cons ▽

20 courts, waiting area included

20 courts with space for a waiting area on the right

Courts

The space between pickleball court sidelines varies from 9 feet to 9.75 feet. Having variable spacing between the pickleball courts avoids having overlapping pickleball and tennis lines.

Toggle the "Display Rulers" switch beneath the drawing to see the most relevant measurements.

Waiting area

This layout provides for a waiting area inside the fence.

Players who are waiting for a turn to play typically congregate on one side of the court to socialize and coordinate order of play. Therefore, having a single larger waiting area on one side of the enclosure is preferable to having a smaller area on each side.

More ▽

On the picture below, slide the blue dot towards the left to compare this design to the previous one.

Waiting area Waiting area 5' 9' 9' 9.5' 9.75' 5' 7.75' 8' 8' 8' 8' 8' 8' 8' 8'
7' 10' 10.5' 10.5' 10' 7' 8' 8' 8' 8' 8' 8' 8' 8'

Pros and Cons ▽

20 courts, fewer lines, more confusion

Here is a 20-court layout with way fewer lines

This layout might look more pleasant to the eye when viewed from above because there are fewer lines than in the previous layouts.

However, during a game the court might have lines of one color and some lines of the other color. When focusing on the action, it's not always easy to remember which lines are relevant and which ones are not.

At issue is not just that a court is made of two different color lines. A player will have on their court some lines of a specific color that are part of the court markings, and some other lines of that same color that are not part of the court markings. Confusing, eh?

Also, relevant lines will vary from court to court and from one side of a pickleball court to the other side of the same pickleball court.

On the image below, slide the blue dot towards the left to compare a pickleball-on-top design to a tennis-on-top design. The line segments highlighted in green will switch color as you slide the blue dot.

More ▽

7' 10' 10.5' 10.5' 10' 7' 8' 8' 8' 8' 8' 8' 8' 8'
7' 10' 10.5' 10.5' 10' 7' 8' 8' 8' 8' 8' 8' 8' 8'

Pros and Cons ▽

Rental and Scheduling

Tennis courts as units of currency

The Seattle Park and Recreation Department gets some of its revenue by renting outdoor tennis courts to schools and to private individuals. Seattle Park and Recreation needs to keep this rental revenue stream.

All tennis courts that were lined for pickleball during Seattle Park and Recreation's 2017 Pickleball Pilot Project have lines for two pickleball courts with one pickleball court on each side of the tennis net. When people want to rent one pickleball court, the Seattle Park and Recreation Department rents them a tennis court with two pickleball courts.

Preserving the income stream

Most of the court layouts considered in this document do not have two pickleball courts on each tennis court. How can the Seattle Park and Recreation Department accommodate renting pickleball courts without having to redesign its current rental operation and without losing revenue?

The solution is simple: Designate a pair of pickleball courts to correspond to each tennis court. Some pickleball courts won't be able to get rented, but that should not be an issue.

A practical example

Let's review the Meadowbrook layout currently planned by the Seattle Park and Recreation Department. Tennis courts are labeled 1 to 6. Pairs of pickleball courts are labeled A through F.