Originally Posted by TTMR
So the other day my bud and I decided to play tennis after a relatively long layoff. As you probably do not know, 95% of the public courts in my city are unplayable; they usually have fixed "nets" made of wire mesh, fading boundary lines, potholes galore (much like the roads) and holes and openings in the back and side fences. Clubs are obscenely priced and their courts always in use. This forces what few tennis players there are onto a few centrally located decently maintained public courts.
As we approach we see this oaf teaching about nine or ten kids. There are four courts at this location and it looked like he was only using two at the time doing some silly drills. We get our equipment and head onto the furthest court out and this 300 lb instructor yells out, "Hey buddy, we got these reserved". Quite an odd statement. I did not know you could "reserve" public courts.
"Until when?" I asked.
"'Till 11," he replied. It was 9:30 at the time.
"Well, you're not even using these two over here," I answered.
"Doesn't matter, we will be. We got them reserved."
"These are public courts, how can they be 'reserved'?"
"We're here every week at this time."
"But that doesn't mean they're 'reserved' for you."
"If I give'em up for you then I have to give'em up for everyone."
My playing partner interjected, "Why don't we go play squash instead?"
"No. We're here to play tennis. This guy doesn't own the courts. We're taxpayers. We're playing."
"No, you're not. I've just finished my drill. My kids are starting their practice sets now. Ethan, Jessica, you two come over and play on this court," pointing to the one we were standing on. The kids quickly come and start a rally. It was clear the coach was now in aggressive mode, assuming we would yield once the kids began playing. As a side note, we saw their "coach" lived up to the stereotype; the kids were hitting with closed stances, eastern forehands with no topspin and finishing above the shoulder. The balls were your typical dead ones from Wal-Mart. No doubt their parents were being suckered and scammed hard.
I smiled sardonically and shook my head. "I'm sorry, 'coach' (I emphasized the scare quotes visually this time), we're taking the court. If you want to teach, you book a court with a club."
My friend and I pulled out our racquets and balls and began hitting right then and there, with the kids hitting at the same time. Once they lost control of a ball and had to go chase it, we were in control of the court and they didn't try to reclaim it.
The coach stared me down and yelled, "I'm gonna report you!"
"Yeah, you do that," I responded contemptuously without looking back at him.
We finished our match with the irritating disruption of kids running onto our courts to retrieve their errant balls, but we made our stand. Who did this jerk think he was trying to make money off of public courts? If you want to coach, you reserve a court with your club. I don't care if you have to raise prices or won't make enough money. A match between two or four adult players takes precedence over some plump clown hitting around with kiddies for money. I hope this fatso goes bankrupt.
How do you think I handled the situation? Did I do the right thing?
Well, the way you describe it, I understand your indignation, but the kids were actually on the court that you played on before you. So, it's their court for however long the rule is at that public court.
However, it sounds like the 'coach' was unnecessarily rude and just didn't handle it very well. I would probably have become ****ed at him as well.
Still, the rule at public courts is pretty clear. First come first served. Neither lessons nor adult matches has priority. At least not at my public courts.
Actually, I'm not sure it even matters if the kids were actually on the court you played on before you. The fact is that the kids who were on the same court as you were at the courts before you and were, in effect, ahead of you in the 'waiting line'. Either way you parse it, you should have waited. So, that's what I voted for. And that 'coach' should learn how to deal with situations like this a lot better than he did.
Just my two cents.