The top 5 public tennis courts in the Ann Arbor area
Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com
Tennis remains a strong sport in the Ann Arbor area. Along with hosting the 91st city championships the Ann Arbor Area Community Tennis Association was named the USTA Midwest Tennis Association of the Year and the Pioneer High School girls tennis team captured its fifth state championship.
There are 112 public tennis courts spread out over Ann Arbor's many parks and schools. After visiting, scrutinizing, and playing all the courts, we present the Ann Arbor Area Public Tennis Court Guide. Each court is in playable condition, but some clearly stand out.
To supplement the guide, here are AnnArbor.com's Top 5 Public Tennis Courts.
Burns Park In the southeast corner of Burns Park's 15 acres sit four newly renovated hard courts. Burns Park is frequented by a steady blend of students, families, and longtime Ann Arborites who sneak out of the Senior Center located across the parking lot from the courts.
Even during peak hours, at least one court always seems to be available. In the chance you have to wait, a hitting wall outside the courts and people watching from the benches should keep you occupied. Once on the U.S. Open color-schemed courts, players will find afternoon shade on the south side provided by a row of large pine trees and excellent wind protection thanks to a hill to the west (also great for spectators and sun bathers). In the evening, the north side of the courts also is shaded. The park is located on Wells and Baldwin adjacent to Burns Park School.
Burns Park also has ample playgroup equipment, baseball diamonds, a basketball court, small shelter with restrooms, and drinking fountains located next to the tennis courts. Though Burns doesn't have the most courts, or lights to play on at night, it offers the best all-around playing experience with its great location, excellent shade, wind protection, access to amenities, and atmosphere.
Leslie Park These three tennis courts in far north of Ann Arbor offer a unique setting next to the Leslie Park Golf Course and open fields, they are blissfully desolate. The journey to the courts involves turning off of Dhu Varren Road onto a “private” drive that leads through a neighborhood and finally traversing a neglected dirt road.
Once at the courts, which are not the newest in Ann Arbor, the feeling is great - akin to stepping up to the first tee on a golf course. The three courts were built into the side of a small hill, which provides wind protection and an excellent vista for post-match reflection. Unless others are playing on the well-maintained basketball courts or the baseball diamond next to the courts, you won't hear much apart from the occasional ping of a golf ball being driven off one of the two tee boxes visible east the courts.
If you’re looking a place to work on your Inner Game of Tennis (author's note, most popular tennis book ever written) in peace, Leslie is worth the trip.
Hunt Park Cracked surfaces, rusty fences and a single court usually are considered bad attributes of a public tennis venue. But at Hunt Park in Ann Arbor's upper-west side, these all to the charm.
The court at Hunt Park is situated directly north of a large community garden (where you can literally smell the produce), and is lined by tall trees line on its western border. The court includes two cracks running horizontally across both service lines and more on the baselines. The surface is worn to a shade of off-green. But all of these factors make it look, and feel, like a part of the park - not just a court that was built on top of it. Occasionally bad bounces happen, but in an area where players are accustomed to hitting on near-perfect resurfaced hard courts, the odd bounces add a challenging element to a handful of points a set. The fencing on the sides of the court doesn't extend all the way around the court, adding to the open feel.
A short post-match walk to the top of the park rewards players with benches and a partial view of Ann Arbor's skyline, the altitude and feeling of being above the noise of the city is Zen-like. While certainly not the smoothest slab of asphalt in Ann Arbor, Hunt Park offers one of the most unique, relaxing, and enjoyable playing environments.
Palmer Field Oh, college: taking afternoons off to watch the “Wheel of Fortune” and not having enough money for a $5 pizza. Regardless of what your college experience consisted of, Palmer Field's picturesque surroundings and youthful occupants will make you feel like an undergrad again. Located just north of the Central Campus Recreational Building and south of Palmer Field sit eight pristine hardcourts sprawled out next to basketball courts and a roller-hockey area that also is used for pick up soccer, and the occasional game of bicycle polo.
Situated next to Washtenaw Avenue in the heart of Michigan's campus, Palmer offers a different experience than the isolated courts of Hunt and Leslie. Here, even when school isn't in session, you'll probably have to wait to get a court. Lines often form with players practicing at the hitting wall. The medical research buildings provide a constant hum that often overpowers the sound of traffic on Washtenaw Avenue.
The courts offer a great place to play downtown and are among the only Ann Arbor courts with lights (they turn off at 11 p.m.). Because of this factor, Palmer is the best option for play in the evening. The eight hard courts are in excellent condition, and two imitation grass courts are interesting to play on but are poor condition.
Skyline High School Still looking for an excuse to check out Skyline High School? Here's one, they have great tennis courts. Past the round-abouts, the courts are in the far northeastern corner of Skyline's large campus.
Positioned two at a time in a line of four running north to south, the brand new blue on blue courts are in excellent condition. The courts are protected from the wind and evening sun thanks to a large wood line that runs along their western boundary.
Bring water, because the area is without a drinking fountain, but bathrooms can be found in a concrete shelter between the tennis courts and a baseball/softball field. Traffic can pick up in the summer with Ann Arbor Parks and Recreation leagues using them, but at least a court or two should be available.
- Compiled by Bob Gross and Josh Coudret.