A 71-year-old man in Denver is facing a felony charge for using a permanent marker to mark a pickleball court at a local rec center.
To pickleball fans in the Mile-High City, Arslan Guney is considered a major player ― some even call him “the mayor of pickleball” because of his dedication to teaching the sport, which combines tennis, badminton and ping-pong.
“[Guney] is an expert player himself but always takes time to slow down his game ... to teach others to play with people of any ability,” Jan Devor, a friend and fellow player, told TheDenverChannel.com.
But while Guney may be a hero to Denver’s pickleball community, city officials have a different impression. On March 14, Guney drew pickleball markings on the basketball court at Central Park Recreation Center using a Sharpie pen he had borrowed from rec center employees. He says that rec center employees had also drawn pickleball markings on the court in the past.
Three days later, he was issued an arrest warrant for felony criminal mischief for causing what a court document claims is $9,344.58 in damages. Guney was also notified that his Denver Parks and Recreation membership had been suspended indefinitely.
The warrant and suspension are leaving a sour taste in the mouths of Guney’s fellow pickleball players, who have been unsuccessfully lobbying the rec center for permanent pickleball court markings.
“The whole pickleball community is really saddened and shocked,” Devor lamented.
John Martinez, the deputy executive director of Denver Parks and Recreation, had asked maintenance staff to remove the markings with a “solvent,” according to the warrant obtained by Denverite.com, but the substance also removed the finish on the floor.
Guney’s lawyer, Hollynd Hoskins, told Denverite.com that her client had “no intention of destroying or damaging” the courts.
“He thought because of the previous marks there would be no problem. It’s not criminal mischief. He had no intention to deface, to damage or destroy property,” she said.
Hoskins said her client is willing to pay for any damage that is considered reasonable. She is also hoping to turn the arrest warrant into a court summons in order to avoid any jail time.
However, Martinez seems insistent on the charges, according to Denverite.com.
“We want to move forward with charges, as his actions cause significant damage to our gym floor and will cost the City thousands of dollars to repair,” the outlet quoted Martinez as saying, citing the arrest warrant.