Court space etiquette questions

tennisluvr

New User
So the public courts are getting pretty packed recently, especially since there's nothing else to do during these COVID times. Coaches are taking on more students than ever, new people are picking up tennis for the first time, older players are returning to tennis after a long time away from it, and the people who already were playing regularly are back to doing that.

So I was going to hit with my friend last week. My friend showed up early, and was first in line for a court. I showed up a bit later, and then another group showed up at around the same time as me. Once the current occupants of the court are about to leave, the other group walked onto the court, basically cutting in front of us. They claimed that they "didn't see him" (my friend), so they thought he left the park and came back, which would've (rightfully) relinquished his place in the queue. The thing is, my friend never left. Granted, it was kinda hard to see him since it was dark out (but he was still there). The previous occupants of the court were nice enough to speak up and vouch for us as they were leaving, but this new group just wouldn't budge. They just kept saying that they "didn't see him, so he must've left and came back". Eventually, we just walked away and gave them the court in order to avoid further escalation. We were pretty upset though. This group wasn't wearing face masks/coverings (which was against the court rules), and weren't wearing proper tennis shoes (also against the court's rules), which ultimately isn't that huge a deal, but it just adds to the frustration.

What should we have done differently? Were we in the right? What kind of recourse do we have? I would like to avoid this kind of situation in the future. I reached out to the city since they own and maintain the courts, and their suggestion was to call the Sheriff, since they're the ones contracted for enforcement of park rules. Honestly, I'd rather not call the cops for something so trivial, it seems like too much.

Sorry for that wall of text, part of it was me just venting. But I do genuinely want to hear some tips/advice on what to do in this situation. I was originally going to post this in Odds & Ends, but I figured since this is tennis related and I am asking for help, it could fit here.
 
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PKorda

Rookie
Interestingly I had a somewhat similar situation where I called the park commission, they said they'd said someone over and the people ended up leaving the court like 30 minutes later before they showed up. Agree that calling the sheriff seems a bit ridiculous.

Anyway these situations can be difficult. In your case, I don't think I would've worried about the face masks or shoes, unless they were damaging the courts. The people should've relinquished the courts to you especially when you had a third party supporting you. But they didn't and the options are to either just refuse to leave and throw a bit of a fit or decide it's not worth it. For me, while getting in any kind of a fight has very little appeal to me, it often comes down to whether I think I might get my ass kicked. If the answer is no, I will usually refuse to leave and continue to argue. If the answer is possibly I'll most likely decide it's not worth it.
 
Call a tracer if they are breaking covi rules. Hard to picture what happened--seems like your buddy didn't make his presence visible--where are you supposed to be while waiting for the court? Were you late? In covi times when courts are precious one should be early to stake their claim--one person alone versus four ready to play.

More details please, having trouble picturing the entire scenario--did you arrive after the four? Is there a bench to wait on behind the court?--A gate to wait in front of? Even at clubs with reservations, it's good to be there on time or a minute or two early making one's presence known without hanging on the gate looking overly pushy an pressuring them to get off before their time is up. More details please.
 

tennisluvr

New User
Interestingly I had a somewhat similar situation where I called the park commission, they said they'd said someone over and the people ended up leaving the court like 30 minutes later before they showed up. Agree that calling the sheriff seems a bit ridiculous.

Anyway these situations can be difficult. In your case, I don't think I would've worried about the face masks or shoes, unless they were damaging the courts. The people should've relinquished the courts to you especially when you had a third party supporting you. But they didn't and the options are to either just refuse to leave and throw a bit of a fit or decide it's not worth it. For me, while getting in any kind of a fight has very little appeal to me, it often comes down to whether I think I might get my ass kicked. If the answer is no, I will usually refuse to leave and continue to argue. If the answer is possibly I'll most likely decide it's not worth it.
In the ended, we just decided it's not worth it. We could've argued further, but just didn't want to risk getting on anyone's bad side. I reached out to the city and asked them if they had a non-police official that we contact for small matters like this, something similar to the park commission you had.

Call a tracer if they are breaking covi rules. Hard to picture what happened--seems like your buddy didn't make his presence visible--where are you supposed to be while waiting for the court? Were you late? In covi times when courts are precious one should be early to stake their claim--one person alone versus four ready to play.

More details please, having trouble picturing the entire scenario--did you arrive after the four? Is there a bench to wait on behind the court?--A gate to wait in front of? Even at clubs with reservations, it's good to be there on time or a minute or two early making one's presence known without hanging on the gate looking overly pushy an pressuring them to get off before their time is up. More details please.
Sorry for leaving out details, I didn't want to bore anyone with a wall of text. But here's the details:

Some buddies wanted to hit. We set up a time. My friend got there ahead of time, and so he just waited there for a court to open up. He was sitting at a bench in front of the courts, maybe 70 ft away, but still within talking distance. All courts are currently occupied, and my friend is the only one waiting outside so far.

A short time after my friend showed up, another lady showed up to wait for a court. She sat down on the floor directly in front of the courts.

Shortly after this lady showed up, the current occupants of the court were kind enough to inform the lady that my friend was there first, and was waiting for their court.

Some time passes, and that's when I show up and join my friend at the bench. My friend tells me that he's been waiting there for a while, and that he was there before the lady. At around the same time I show up, another group of 4 dudes show up. Turns out that they're with that lady from before (one of them was her husband), and she arrived there ahead of time to secure a spot in line for their whole party. They started to act really pushy, constantly leaning against the fence and peeking into the court.

Then, two more of our hitting group shows up, so there's 4 of us now.

The current occupants of the court finish up, and clear the court. As the four of us make our way to the court, this new group sorta slithers into the court before us. We went up to them and told them that my friend was already there first and has been waiting for a while. They just said "we didn't see him, so he must've left and came back, so he lost his place in line". The thing is, my friend never left. And I was also there the whole time after I showed up. The previous occupants of the court are just about to leave, but they overhear our conversation and were kind enough to speak up and vouch for my friend, reiterating that he was indeed the first one in the queue. They even said that they informed the lady that my friend was the first one in line and that they were going to give the court to him. They just said the same thing, that they "didn't see him so he probably left and came back and so lost his place in line. He can't just leave and come back and expect to keep his place in line" (the lady stayed silent during this whole exchange). Which was nonsense, because my friend was there the whole time and didn't leave. Granted, it was dark out and it was kinda hard to see anyone sitting where he was, but that doesn't change the fact that he was still there.

They didn't budge, so we ultimately decided that it wasn't worth it to keep arguing with them and escalate it into something possibly worse, so we just walked away and gave the court to them.

That's the detailed version of what happened.
 
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They didn't budge, so we ultimately decided that it wasn't worth it to keep arguing with them and escalate it into something possibly worse, so we just walked away and gave the court to them.
Thanks for the details, sounds like you got bullied out of your court. The woman in their group wouldn't speak up or was afraid to, and the guys in the group constructed a "narrative" to get what they wanted. With the cops being defunded doubt if they'll be available to enforce public park rules, they've got enough on their hands just trying to survive as it is now. My only suggestion would be to bring some folding chairs and park them behind the court you're waiting for and get some x-tender rackets to give you an edge if things get out of control.
 

tennisluvr

New User
Thanks for the details, sounds like you got bullied out of your court. The woman in their group wouldn't speak up or was afraid to, and the guys in the group constructed a "narrative" to get what they wanted. With the cops being defunded doubt if they'll be available to enforce public park rules, they've got enough on their hands just trying to survive as it is now. My only suggestion would be to bring some folding chairs and park them behind the court you're waiting for and get some x-tender rackets to give you an edge if things get out of control.
Yeah, that's what I figured too. It's never happened before in all the years I've been living here and using these courts, so I was a bit flabbergasted when it happened. Hopefully this is just a rare occurrence. I wouldn't want to call the cops for something so trivial anyway, but it'd be nice to get a city official/rep to sort things out if it happens again.
 

tennisluvr

New User
Did they look like regular tennis players or the type who come out once a year on a warm day to "let's play tennis"?
They wear wearing regular t-shirts and jeans/pants with sneakers, and had those cheap Walmart racquets/balls. Didn't grip the racquets correctly (held them very high up the handle) and had no technique. Definitely didn't look like regular tennis players. We play there so often that we recognize almost all the regular players that frequent there, and we've never seen them there before the pandemic. We've seen them there one other time after the pandemic, and they couldn't get a tennis court, so they ended up playing volleyball instead.
 
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HiHowAreYou

New User
I would have just been petty. If they’re being idiots, then they deserve it. Get on the court. Ruin their play and stuff.
 

pencilcheck

Professional
That happens all the time whenever there are more people waiting in line, nothing special to be honest but yea if you are against a large group of people, usually it is not worth arguing but if you already waited for like 30 mins that would suck.
 
They wear wearing regular t-shirts and jeans/pants with sneakers, and had those cheap Walmart racquets/balls. Didn't grip the racquets correctly (held them very high up the handle) and had no technique. Definitely didn't look like regular tennis players.
Sounds like hooligan losers who play once a year--not worth getting beat-up, knifed or shot for--just run of the mill bullies. If you and your buddies think you can take them on then bring some baseball bats next time and rumble. Or, arrange for a Fuse meeting on court presided over by the Rec Tennis Community Organizer Sureshi!--I'm SURE he will persuade them to become law-abiding members of the tennis community and to wait for their proper turn.
 

Steady Eddy

Hall of Fame
I've decided not to bother with anyone who cuts in line anywhere. When I was younger I sure wasn't that way. But now I don't care. If my job told me they were adding toilet cleaning to my duties, I'd shrug and say "sure". I don't vote. Don't argue line calls. I've just decided not to care. It's very relaxing.
 

NoQuarter

Rookie
I have not ran into this issue in many years but I always make sure that if I am playing on public courts and there were people waiting, I will not leave my court until I have invited the next group onto my court to make sure that this type of issue doesn't happen to them. I've been on the other end enough that I want to make sure that fairness is followed.
 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
So the public courts are getting pretty packed recently,

This group wasn't wearing face masks/coverings (which was against the court rules), and weren't wearing proper tennis shoes (also against the court's rules),
Most public courts here were just locked or taped till they reopened. You mean to say that there is a public court which has both shoe rules as well as updated COVID rules posted somewhere? Or are the shoe rules posted and the COVID rules on a city website?

At our private+public club (non-profit run on behalf of Parks and Rec), the rule is to wear masks all the time except when actually playing, and we got email that a lot of people are not doing that, and also not asking their kids to do that. The fear is that a park patrol officer could notice that and then the club will be shutdown again.
 

travlerajm

G.O.A.T.
Some public courts have a rule that whoever is waiting needs to stand a racquet up against the fence. That way it is obvious if someone is waiting.
 

tennisluvr

New User
Most public courts here were just locked or taped till they reopened. You mean to say that there is a public court which has both shoe rules as well as updated COVID rules posted somewhere? Or are the shoe rules posted and the COVID rules on a city website?

At our private+public club (non-profit run on behalf of Parks and Rec), the rule is to wear masks all the time except when actually playing, and we got email that a lot of people are not doing that, and also not asking their kids to do that. The fear is that a park patrol officer could notice that and then the club will be shutdown again.
The rule about wearing tennis shoes is one of many rules on a large ruleboard that is posted on the fence, and that's been there since forever. The new COVID rules got added as an additional large ruleboard next to that one, as well as being on the city website. We're also allowed to remove our masks when actually hitting.

I have not ran into this issue in many years but I always make sure that if I am playing on public courts and there were people waiting, I will not leave my court until I have invited the next group onto my court to make sure that this type of issue doesn't happen to them. I've been on the other end enough that I want to make sure that fairness is followed.
That is very kind of you, wish there were more people like you. It was great that the previous occupants of the court did speak up for us in our case, but like I said, this new group was having none of it.
 

heninfan99

Talk Tennis Guru
You are leaving key elements of the story out. Your friend did, in fact, leave the area for a period of time which confused things.
 

tennisluvr

New User
You are leaving key elements of the story out. Your friend did, in fact, leave the area for a period of time which confused things.
I apologize if I wasn't clear with the details. He never left, but now thinking back on it, I guess he didn't exactly make his presence known in an obvious way to the new group. He was sitting in a spot where anyone approaching the tennis courts had to have seen him, so I figured that the new group would automatically know that he was waiting for a court, especially since he had all his tennis gear with him. I guess this is a lesson learned for us as well, in the future we'll try to make it known that we're waiting for a court and where our place in line is. I still think they wrongfully took the court form us, especially since we had a third party vouch for us.
 

heninfan99

Talk Tennis Guru
I apologize if I wasn't clear with the details. He never left, but now thinking back on it, I guess he didn't exactly make his presence known in an obvious way to the new group. He was sitting in a spot where anyone approaching the tennis courts had to have seen him, so I figured that the new group would automatically know that he was waiting for a court, especially since he had all his tennis gear with him. I guess this is a lesson learned for us as well, in the future we'll try to make it known that we're waiting for a court and where our place in line is. I still think they wrongfully took the court form us, especially since we had a third party vouch for us.
The problem is that it's a gentleman's game but not too many gentlemen play it.
 

pencilcheck

Professional
I apologize if I wasn't clear with the details. He never left, but now thinking back on it, I guess he didn't exactly make his presence known in an obvious way to the new group. He was sitting in a spot where anyone approaching the tennis courts had to have seen him, so I figured that the new group would automatically know that he was waiting for a court, especially since he had all his tennis gear with him. I guess this is a lesson learned for us as well, in the future we'll try to make it known that we're waiting for a court and where our place in line is. I still think they wrongfully took the court form us, especially since we had a third party vouch for us.
Yea that happens a lot whenever a big group comes in and when they are mostly new comers to tennis. When our group encountered this problem, it is most of the time depends on trust and playing nice otherwise everyone can all be mean to each other then we lose the flexibility, but if you have been waiting for an hour then this happens I would not back down that easily.
 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
I have found that if someone is waiting and showing impatience, directly asking if they want to play makes them feel awkward and they usually back off and turn around and become very pleasant. People are pissed off when they don't get any acknowledgment from those currently playing.
 

Rubens

Hall of Fame
I would've called the sheriff for them not wearing masks. Then I would've told the group that the sheriff is sending someone over, without giving them the details.
 

TagUrIt

Hall of Fame
This was very unfortunate, manners and just general human decency have been completely abandoned. In this situation even though you and your friend were completely in the right, nowadays it’s just not worth it. That group was rude and out of line. I think you made the right choice conceding the court.
 
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