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Pickleball sparks controversy in Arlington

Some neighbors are now considering taking legal action if the changes they're calling for aren't made.

ARLINGTON, Va. — Interest may be growing in a sport called pickleball, but off the court, frustrations are growing over the noise. 

The Walter Reed Community Center tennis courts are used as pickleball courts most nights. Instead of three games of tennis going, six games of pickleball are underway. However, the courts are very close to homes along 16th Street South. 

"These courts are probably 50 feet from my doorstep. I can hear all of the action in my bedroom in the back of the house" said Mary McKee. She said as of late the tennis courts have become a hotspot for Pickleball players from across the area.

"We've got more people coming, more people playing and more people wanting to play," she said.

Boun Khamvongsa was one of the players on the court Monday night. He lives in Annandale and started playing over the summer. He said he understands that the noise might be a nuisance for some.

"You hear the pick pock of the pickleball; I don't know – it's irritating for some but for us, it's great," said Khamvongsa.

He and the others playing Monday night say they follow the rules and only play during the hours permitted on the tennis courts, from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. They say the lights are shut off at 10 p.m. on the dot and a worker from Walter Reed Community Center comes out and tells them to leave.

"He'll come out and tell us: 'Everyone out right now,'" one of the players told WUSA9.

McKee told WUSA9 that this wasn't always the case. She said she and her neighbors have made complaints to the county. She said players often come earlier in the morning and stay later into the night, especially when the weather is warmer.

McKee said she and her neighbors are not against the sport. 

"We're not against the sport of pickleball. We want you to have fun. We want you to go out and exercise and be with your friends." She said they just want some guidelines to be put in place. 

McKee said the hours need to be shortened, that something needs to be done to block out the sound, and that the number of pickleball courts should be spread out across the county.

"We've got 80 plus tennis courts across the county that could be dual-purposed, so we can share the pickleball," said McKee. She says right now there are 19 courts being used for pickleball, and nine of them are at the Walter Reed Community enter.

McKee said she and her neighbors are considering taking legal action if changes aren't made.

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