Golden Gate Park Tennis Complex (credit: Randy Yagi)
One of San Francisco’s favorite spots to play tennis has been closed for months to an extensive renovation. Once the Mission Dolores Park project is completed this summer, residents and visitors alike will be able to enjoy the six renovated tennis courts, along with resurfaced basketball courts, new restrooms and other improvements. Where else in the city can you play tennis without having to join a club or otherwise pay a fee? Here is a look at five of the best public tennis courts in San Francisco.
Nancy Pelosi Dr. and John F. Kennedy Dr.
San Francisco, CA 94117
Older than the iconic twin windmills on the western edge of San Francisco’s largest park, the Golden Gate Tennis Complex began operations in 1901. The sprawling center features 21 regulation size tennis courts, water fountains, courtside benches, and both indoor and outdoor restrooms. Although no membership is required to play on the courts, the Golden Gate Tennis Club hosts a number of USTA-sanctioned events, along with a tennis ladder based upon USTA ratings and social gatherings. On weekdays, the courts are available on a first-come, first-serve basis except for groups, organized league or tournament matches and special events. Weekend reservations can be made the Wednesday prior to the weekend.
Ocean and San Jose St.
San Francisco, CA 94112
Along the southern border of the city, Balboa Park features an indoor swimming pool, soccer stadium, four baseball fields and four regulation-sized tennis courts. Plenty of public restrooms and drinking fountains are within the park and most of the available parking is located along the southern end of the 3,500 seat Boxer Stadium as well as some street parking along Sergeant John V. Young St. Additionally, with the Balboa Park BART station nearby, this is an excellent place for tennis if you prefer not to drive. An added bonus is the park’s proximity to City College of San Francisco, with eight tennis courts although classes and the collegiate teams have priority use.
Alice Marble Tennis Courts
1200 Greenwich St.
San Francisco, CA 94109
Located within George Sterling Park in the Russian Hill neighborhood, Alice Marble features four tennis courts, a practice wall, and a basketball court. Of the four tennis courts here, two are regulation-sized and the other two are singles only, with no doubles boundaries. Even though it can be windy at times, there’s limited parking and no restrooms, its view of the bay make Alice Marble a very popular tennis spot. Alice Marble Courts are named after the American tennis legend who honed her tennis skills in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park before winning 18 Grand Slam tennis events, including four U.S. Open women’s singles championships. Out of towners will also be interested to know one of the city’s most famous attractions, Lombard Street, also known as the “Crookedest Street in the World,” is just one block away.
336 31st. Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94121
Not far from the eastern border of Lincoln Park is a hidden gem within the city when it comes to public tennis courts. Bounded by residential homes in the Outer Richmond district are the four regulation sized tennis courts named after another Grand Slam Tennis champion and a backboard for solo practice. Like Alice Marble before her, Margaret Osborne DuPont, developed her game on the public courts in Golden Gate Park and went on to win 37 Grand Slam titles and, like Marble, was ranked number one in the world. All four courts are on schedule for a resurfacing in late spring and early summer, after the long overdue renovation of the public restrooms. Still, these courts is an excellent spot for tennis players who want to check out a new destination off the beaten path.
26th Ave. and Vicente St.
San Francisco, CA 94116
Another hidden gem are a set of four tennis courts not far from Pine Lake Park and Sigmund Stern Recreation Grove. Parkside Square Tennis Courts are part of San Francisco’s first completely ADA-accessible playground and also features a basketball court and baseball field, along with the renovated tennis courts, drinking fountains and restrooms. No onsite parking is available although there should be plenty of street parking around the perimeter of the park. The L-Taraval Muni line has a stop two blocks from the park. Visitors may also want to visit Stern Grove, particularly during the popular Stern Grove Festival season, the oldest admission-free performing arts festival of its kind in the country.