Tuesday, November 5, 2013

An Insiders Guide to Tennis in San Francisco - Free Places to Play, Finding Tennis Partners, Club, Equipment, Lessons & Resources to Help You Play More.

If you're like me (and at least 1,522 others) you enjoy cracking open a pressurized can and taking a whiff of fresh yellow Tennis balls. With that smell comes the promise that you won't repeatedly hit the ball into the net, that you'll smash the ball into open court instead of air swipe, that you'll get all your first serves in, and that you won't need to throw a single racket on the ground in frustration. That smell is the smell of potential Tennis greatness and it's kept me going ever since my Dad taught me to play at a public court near our house.

This post isn't about the smell of Tennis balls it's about playing Tennis in San Francisco, I just wanted to get your attention. I will say that I'm not alone in my love of the new Tennis ball smell as evidenced by this video:

but that's the last I'll speak of it. On to some great resources...

According to the SPOTS Sports Index. Tennis is the 5th most popular sport in the San Francisco metro area with 22% of SPOTS users saying they're into Tennis. Tennis players in San Francisco have an average playing level of 3.5 (bases on NTRP Self-Rating) and include slightly more men than women.

There is a vibrant community of SPOTS Tennis players who regularly share what they're looking for, where they enjoy playing and who they enjoy playing with. Many of these tips have come from SPOTS players and some from our own experience. We hope they help you find what you're looking for. 

Tennis Players in San Francisco
Tennis Players in San Francisco. Click to see more.

Free Places to Play Tennis in San Francisco.

San Francisco has some incredible free Tennis courts. A lot of them are provided by the San Francisco Recreation & Parks Department who do an incredible job of maintaining these facilities. This is your tax dollars at work so you might as well get your money's worth.

San Francisco Recreation & Parks Department Tennis Court Index

While an index is great it's not always the easiest way to find a Tennis court near you. Tennis Maps to the rescue! Tennis Maps uses satellite images to find courts around you and makes it easy for you to filter the kind of courts you're looking for. 

Map of places to play Tennis in San Francisco by Tennis Maps 

Here are the top 3 San Francisco Tennis courts we hear about all the time from SPOTS members:
  1. Mission Dolores Park Tennis courts in the heart of the Mission Dolores corridor and just across the street from the tasty B-Rite Creamery, treat yourself after a hard game.
  2. Marble Arch Tennis courts located in Russian Hill and known for their stunning views of the city and the Bay.
  3. Lafayette Park Tennis courts in Pacific Heights, complete with picnic tables, off leash dog run and more stunning views. 


Clubs like gyms are a great place to go to find courts and other facilities but they're not for everyone. The Bay Club is probably the most well known club for its private Tennis courts in two locations in San Francisco.

Another popular location for Tennis is The Presidio Community YMCA with a total of 6 courts. Reservations are required. 

Last but certainly not least is the Golden Gate Park Tennis Club located, you guessed it, in Golden Gate Park.

Finding Tennis Partners

SPOTS - A shameless plug here for SPOTS because we built it expressly to help you find locals to play Tennis and over 140 other sports. You connect spontaneously and privately with other people also looking to play. Don't have an account yet? Sign up at http://www.spots-app.com or install SPOTS for iOS on your iPhone or iPad.

Meetup.com - There are a good number of Tennis Meetup groups in and around San Francisco that have regularly scheduled games for you to attend. It's a great way to meet a lot of local Tennis players.

Tennis RoundTennis Round helps tennis players of different skill levels find a tennis partner and schedule a match. It's also a directory of tennis courts nationwide in the USA.


Craigslist - Craigslist San Francisco has an Activities section on their site that let's you search for or find local Tennis players. It's a bit hit and miss but it seems to be a popular place to look. http://sfbay.craigslist.org/act/

USTA Membership - The US Tennis Association is clearly a great resource for all things Tennis but also helps you find a local league and players but you have to be a member with a login to use it. http://www.usta.com/

Did we miss any great resources for finding Tennis partners in San Francisco ? Tell us below in the comments.


Anyone who plays Tennis in San Francisco is more than likely familiar with the following retailers who each provide a strong supply of rackets, balls and Tennis attire.

Sports Basement - 5 locations in the Bay Area and 2 in San Francisco. http://www.sportsbasement.com/

Lombardi Sports - Family owned and part of San Francisco since 1948. They provide top of the line equipment to locals and tourists alike. http://www.lombardisports.com/

There are of course pro shops at the above listed Clubs where you can find all the equipment you need.

Lessons & Learning to Play

If you don't yet play Tennis but want to learn there's a good number of people and places who are ready to help. Here's our list of the top X.

Let us know if we missed any invaluable Tennis resources on this list and we'll add them. Have fun playing Tennis in the great city of San Francisco and don't forget to keep smelling the Tennis balls. It might just inspire you to Tennis greatness.

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