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BUSD Eyes Moellering Field for Tennis Court Installation

Photograph by Simone Lewis

Berkeley Unified School District (BUSD) is currently searching for practice spaces for the Berkeley High School (BHS) tennis team. At their October 13 meeting, the school board discussed establishing tennis courts at Tim Moellering Field, where the BHS ultimate frisbee team currently holds its practices.

BUSD had originally planned for tennis courts and a parking structure to be built on Milvia Street across from BHS. However, “The cost of that option has become quite high, which prompted district staff to review other possible locations for the tennis courts, including part of Moellering Field,” said School Board President Ty Alper.

Currently, the BHS tennis team has partial use of the Martin Luther King Middle School tennis courts. The tennis team is able to use three out of the five courts, which is not enough to accommodate all 25 members of the team. Varsity Tennis Coach Mary Bedford said the courts are in poor condition and “embarrassing for hosting other teams.”

BHS seniors and women’s tennis co-captains Tara Shahandeh and Charlotte Sielewicz said the courts have cracks and are covered in leaves, causing players to trip.

The tennis team has been able to practice on UC Berkeley’s tennis courts on Channing Way. “The Channing courts are in very good condition as they do belong to Cal, and we are extremely fortunate to be able to use them,” said Shahandeh and Sielewicz in an email statement.

However, the tennis team has faced a few obstacles with the University of California Berkeley courts, such as the walking distance from BHS and difficulties using the restroom and getting into the courts because the team has only one key. Bedford said BHS could lose the tennis program if the team is unable to find their own court space.

One location under consideration for the creation of tennis courts is Tim Moellering Field on Martin Luther King Jr. Way. Moellering Field is currently supposed to host the BHS Ultimate Frisbee club team, Coup, for five of their weekly practices. Discussions continue around which team will get priority. Emmet Holton, BHS senior and Coup captain, said the team has struggled in the past with getting available practice spaces.

“The problem is that we’re essentially the last priority for BUSD and the City of Berkeley when it comes to designating field space,” Holton said. Because of these past obstacles, Holton said that if Coup is unable to practice on the Tim Moellering field, it may be hard to find another location. “At the same time, the fact that the tennis team has to play on such bad courts so far from school is totally unfair,” Holton said.

BHS junior and Coup player Liam Ereneta spoke at the October 13 school board meeting regarding the tennis team’s possible move to Moellering Field.

In an interview afterwards, Ereneta said, “Changing the field to tennis courts would severely limit its usefulness to the community surrounding it.” He said the district has yet to address where Coup would practice.

Ultimately, the plan for BHS field space is still in the process of being made, and it is unclear when a solution will be decided upon.