For years, Pete Burns looked out across empty Tustin Unified School District (TUSD) tennis courts from his desk as Director of Maintenance. On Saturdays, Pete and Phil Dunmeyer, a retired TUSD administrator and principal, played doubles tennis. But that all changed in 2010 when Phil said to Pete, “I have a new game for us to try.”
They said goodbye to tennis and have never looked back! Phil, ever the inventor and catalyst, created a net using 3-inch galvanized steel pipes to make a net stand and found a volleyball net that fit nicely. Along with a bit of painter's tape, they made a court.
Several of their colleagues, friends and family wanted to play, so it wasn't long before they had to improvise another court. Play went on like this—hauling out heavy steel stands each time they played—for about a year. One day in 2011, Phil asked Pete, "Who do you suppose we need to talk to get these lines painted on permanently?" Pete replied, "That would be me!" And before you know it, there were two painted courts and plenty of demand. That same year, the USAPA came out with portable Pickleball nets, and the steel nets were retired!
Two courts became four courts, became eight courts, became ten! For years Phil has gotten up before sunrise to drive from San Clemente to meet Pete, put on headlamps, and set-up the courts! Phil, or Coach, spent countless volunteer hours teaching, coaching and mentoring over 1,000 picklers. And to think, we might still be using painter's tape and sitting on the ground were it not for Bif Denny, TUSD Maintenance Supervisor, and his son who donated many hours making fences, painting lines and installing benches.
Today, the courts, which are are affectionately named “The Pete Burns Courts,” host over 400 players a week and two major USAPA-sanctioned tournaments a year.