Letter: Pickleball at the Water Tower

Posted 12/16/21

A diverse community has evolved and it involves all the players, regardless of age, athletic ability, occupation, gender, race or class.

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Letter: Pickleball at the Water Tower


At 9:00 a.m.  most mornings, the Water Tower pickleball courts come alive.  Five years ago the Philadelphia Recreation Dept. converted three tennis courts into six pickleball courts and it was a stroke of genius.  The six courts are filled most mornings and afternoons.  Some of the players appear to be practicing for the Olympics while others are beginners. Many players have commented how friendly and welcoming the courts feel and how they look forward to coming as often as possible, despite the heat in July or the cold in December.  A diverse community has evolved and it involves all the players, regardless of age, athletic ability, occupation, gender, race or class.

Fran Arena, who recently had knee surgery, came back to the courts just to watch and cheer others on since her Dr did not approve her to play for another 6 weeks and she really misses the people and camaraderie.

 It is rare to experience the delights of physicality and competitiveness of a racquet sport in a spirit of congeniality and friendliness that has become the pickleball community at the water tower courts.

 We are so appreciative of Councilmember Cindy Bass and the Philadelphia Recreation Dept. for their foresight, though no one could have predicted the enormous success of this venture.

Below are a few quotes from random players, and more can be found in the online version.

Ellie Seif: “What actually exists on the courts is a feeling of friendship, community, and welcoming of everyone.  It is independent of the ability or age of the players. The most experienced players will often play with people of any ability and provide support for new players.”

Cheryl Pinkus: “I am not an exercise freak, but have come to love playing pickleball. Not only is the sport invigorating, but it also requires team play and skill.  I truly enjoy the great camaraderie it offers and have made new friends of all ages and backgrounds.”

Sue Osthoff:  “ While pickleball is a relatively easy game to learn, it is a difficult game to master.  Fortunately there are many good players who are very generous teachers. Yes, the games are competitive, but most people don’t lose sight that we are, in fact, playing games!  I have found people helpful, supportive, fun, and invested in raising the level of play for all.  It’s been a blast!”

Gabriel Wang-Herrera: “... there is no loss of words for my love for pickleball.  I’ve found  that this community is a uniquely embracing one…. By and large, everyone has a desire to simply play the game and enjoy each other’s company. Chestnut Hill has become my place of rest and recreation.  The courts are amazingly cared for; it’s a true community effort and a labor of love.”

If an urban studies department wrote a case study about the addition of  pickleball courts to a public park and then interviewed people about what a difference it made in their lives: physically, socially and emotionally,  it is doubtful they would find better qualitative data than what people spontaneously report about their joy in playing pickleball at the Water Tower.

We are  also aware that there has been a significant number of complaints from the adjacent neighbors about the noise that is generated from the balls/paddles  and people.  We hope that a mutually agreeable, reasonable solution can be reached that can reduce the noise while continuing to provide a valuable community source of recreation.

Margaret Shapiro