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The Lake Oswego Pickleball Club is fast growing, with more than 300 members from around the area.

PMG PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Susan Gilbert stretches for the ball during open play with the Lake Oswego Pickleball Club.On a Tuesday morning inside the newly renovated George Rogers Park pickleball facility, a lengthy line of paddles imbuing a tapestry of colors and brands rest against a fence a few feet away from the white lines that constitute the outer edges of the courts.

The former tennis courts were converted to pickleball just a couple months ago. Yet, on that morning and many others, 24 players were simultaneously embroiled in six matches while the hanging paddles represented the number of players waiting to play. Pickleball is said to be one of the fastest growing sports in the United States. But its rise in Lake Oswego might be particularly pronounced.

"There's been incredible, almost unbelievable growth," Lake Oswego Parks and Recreation Director Ivan Anderholm said.

Demonstrating popularity

In 2015, based on the Parks and Recreation department's observation that the George Rogers Park tennis courts received very little consistent play and requests from pickleball players who wanted a place to play in town, the department added pickleball lines to the tennis courts. And out of that decision, the Lake Oswego Pickleball Club formed. The group quickly garnered over 300 members and then stopped recruiting because the courts needed repair, according to fellow club founder and Jane's husband Carl Schmits.

Because pickleball was only allowed during designated times so that tennis players could use the courts, pickleball players had to take down and put the nets back up again at the beginning and end of their sessions, which they said was onerous. So after learning that the George Rogers Park courts, which included noticeable cracks, were slated for an overhaul, club members asked the Parks and Recreation department if they could convert the courts to full-time pickleball courts while they were at it.

Anderholm said the lack of tennis activity at the courts and the growth of pickleball contributed to the decision to convert the courts solely to pickleball use.

"We saw an increase in pickleball, not only organized play but impromptu play," he said. "The decision was based on the fact that we have dedicated (tennis) courts to other users in the community but we didn't have dedicated courts for pickleball."

The renovation included a resurfacing, renetting and adding an acoustic fence to decrease noise, and the project cost the City approximately $35,000 according to Anderholm.

Click here to read the rest of the story in the Lake Oswego Review.

PMG PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Scott Nicholson slams it home while playing with the Lake Oswego Pickleball Club.


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