The Pacific Northwest Classic got underway in Bend, Oregon (about 120 miles southeast of Portland) on Wednesday, attracting a large number of participants, including professional and amateur players.
Friendships In The Community
Spanning five days, this tournament, sponsored by Thump Coffee, features 535 of the region’s top players, some of whom are professional athletes, all vying for a combined prize pool of over $34,000. However, the significance of the Classic goes beyond just monetary gains according to co-Director Christie Gestvang:
“It’s about the friendships that we create in the community. We’ve got people coming in from all across the United States, so those friendships are developed. And so getting to see old friends and making new friends is real exciting.”
Organizers will be hoping the weather will be a little cooler than last year when the tournament coincided with the hottest period of the year and temperatures topped 100°F.
The Amazing Success
Pro pickleballer and coach Justin Rose from Central Oregon puts his finger on the amazing success the sport has enjoyed over the past few years:
“It is absolutely exploding because of how social and how fun it is. Anybody can play. You can be an 80-year-old grandpa and grandma or you can be six years old and still get on the same court and have a lot of fun together.”
With the influx of new players, joining Central Oregon pickleball clubs and securing regular playing spots has become challenging. The overwhelming demand has led to waiting lists, like the one at the Bend Pickleball Club, which currently has over 370 players eagerly waiting for membership opportunities.
The Pacific Northwest Classic, sponsored by Thump Coffee and hosted by Bend Pickleball Club, begins at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, July 26th and will run through the evening of July 30th at Pine Nursery Park in Bend, with nearly 600 players registered to compete. https://t.co/kyCzesGi9p— KTVZ NewsChannel 21 (@KTVZ) July 19, 2023
Simon Davidson, a pickleball enthusiast who has been playing around Bend for two years explains that once someone manages to gain acceptance into a local club, the availability of playing opportunities becomes much more manageable.
“It can be tricky, but if you can become a member of one of the clubs, then you do have this ability to book your courts a little bit earlier than some of the people that just have passes that play occasionally.”
Different People Have Different Shots
Rory O’Brien hits the court every day and loves facing new players… and their unique styles:
“It’s fun to play with different people because they have different shots. You have to learn their game to be able to play them, and it’s it makes it a little bit more challenging and it’s just fun.”
Ian McPherson, the tournament co-director, has seen how the tournament has attracted a growing number of competitors year on year. He also notes how even the non-pros are seriously upping their training regimes to improve their all-round game.
More Than An Enjoyable Pastime
As he says, “Once they’ve had that sensation of enjoyment, it’s very easy to get hooked on the sport.”
For him, it’s also become more than just an enjoyable pastime: “You know, it is the fastest growing sport in the world and it’s perfect in retirement. It’s my new job.”
As the Central Oregon Daily News put it so beautifully: “The Pacific Northwest Classic continues at Pine Nursery Park through the weekend. However, pickleball fever is here to stay.”
Looking for somewhere to play in the Portland, OR, area? Look no further. Our great article has you covered.
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