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Penn Park Credit: Alexandra Fleischman , Alexandra Fleischman

Starting Friday, students were no longer charged the $5 hourly fee to play recreational tennis at Penn Park’s outdoor Hamlin Tennis Courts.

Following complaints from students, the Undergraduate Assembly worked “collaboratively” with Penn Athletics and the Office of the President to remove the charges, Engineering and Wharton Senior and UA President Tyler Ernst said.

The fees were mainly being used to control demand for court use, said College sophomore and UA Civic and Philadelphia Engagement Director Dan Bernick, a Daily Pennsylvanian columnist. He added that the fees also helped cover maintenance costs.

However, Bernick believes the charges acted as a “deterrent” to using Penn Park facilities, he said. “The best way to get students down to Penn Park and to manage demand would not be to have a fee, but to use the reservation system more,” he added.

The Hamlin Courts replaced the Lott Tennis Courts situated beside David Rittenhouse Laboratory. The Lott Courts — which were free of charge for students — have been demolished since Penn Park’s opening last month to make way for Shoemaker Green, a new 2.75-acre public commons.

The fee structure was designed by an independent firm hired to manage the tennis courts, Senior Associate Director of Athletics Mary DiStanislao wrote in an email, adding that they were implemented as a result of an “oversight.”

After the UA brought the issue to Athletic Director Steve Bilsky last month, Penn Athletics agreed that “the fees had the potential to deter students,” said Bernick.

The two groups discussed the possibility of adding a “small” sum to students’ recreational fees before the charge was eliminated completely, he added.

Penn Athletics “very much took the initiative” once the UA brought the issue to their attention, Ernst said.

Now, students will only be charged to use the tennis courts at the indoor Levy Tennis Pavilion, located on 31st and Walnut streets. The fee is $18 per hour, plus a one-time membership fee of $15.

“Taking away the fees was a very good idea, because it puts everyone on an even playing field,” said Wharton senior Jason Lin, a varsity tennis player. Varsity players were not charged to use the Hamlin Courts, Lin added.

College sophomore Sarah Weingarten, who plays club tennis, however, had to pay to use the outdoor courts.

“It was a huge hassle having to pay for court time. Most of our dues were going to paying for courts,” she wrote in an email, adding that the fee removal came as a “huge relief.”

Editors’ Note: This article was changed to reflect that the size of Shoemaker Green will be 2.75 acres as opposed to 3.75 acres. This information was verified with the Facilities and Real Estate Services.

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