A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Pickleball in Albany: Hot matches coming up

Written September 2nd, 2019 by Hasso Hering

John Morey is the president of the Albany Pickleball Club.

The name of this sport — pickleball — may sound silly, but its players take it seriously. If you want to see how seriously, watch them compete in a regional tournament in Albany on Sept. 6, 7 and 8.

This event next weekend is the 2019 Pacific Northwest Regional Pickleball Tournament for “super seniors,” meaning players aged 60 and above. About 250 of these pickleballers are expected to compete at the Albany Tennis Center, 1423 27th Ave. S.W. (Another section of the regional, presumably for younger competitors, will be in Portland.)

John Morey told me about this. Retired from Wah Chang, he’s president of the Albany Pickleball Club. And at 69, he’s a super senior himself.

The game, if you haven’t seen it, is kind of like a combination of badminton, tennis and ping pong. The players use paddles instead of rackets to knock a plastic wiffle ball back and forth across a net. It looks easy, but when the other half and I tried it a few weeks ago at Hackleman Park, we found out otherwise. It’s more challenging than it looks, especially if you’ve played your share of both tennis and table tennis in years gone by.

Pickleball is said to have gotten its name because one of the Seattle-area families that invented it in 1965 had a dog named Pickles. In recent years the game has been catching on not just in the United States but around the world. The USA Pickleball Association estimates there were more than 3 million players in this country alone in 2018, a 12 percent jump from the year before.

Responding to the trend, the city of Albany and Linn-Benton Community College are cooperating on a project to convert the college’s tennis courts for pickleball. The city council approved the deal on May 20, and the city expects to spend up to $300,000 in park systems deveopment charges to pay for constructing the courts.

Morey told me that next year’s pickleball regional will take place at the new LBCC courts.

This Albany tournament, for players from Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Alaska, is a qualifying event for nationals. So I would guess the competition will be intense.

And maybe one day the governing body of this sport will change its name so that it no longer conjures up mental images of sour little gerkins in a jar. (hh)

15 responses to “Pickleball in Albany: Hot matches coming up”

  1. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    Just another example of white privilege by income-hoarding baby boomers with too much time on their hands.

    And it doesn’t help that local government is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to consciously perpetuate the systemic bias.

    This is worse than flesh-colored band-aids. Geez, Albany. Get woke.

    • J. Jacobson says:

      Citizens of Albany, be alert. Yes…outside agitators with little interest in Albany’s legacy are attacking a sacred institution – Pickleball.

      The game is enjoyed by dozens of persons nationwide, with at least 7-bona fide aficionados right here in the Lower Willamette Valley.

      No, we cannot…we must not allow outside influencers to alter accepted lifestyles. Thankfully, Albany Leaders are leading the way on the leading issue of our times. Mayor Konopa shows us the way:


    • Franklin says:

      Pickleball seems a more fun and positive way to spend time than putting out negativity and knocking down something you’ve never tried. I’m glad to see a group of people in town building a welcoming community of active individuals working to stay fit and be social. Good for them for putting something together that’s fun and enjoyed by many, not just “baby boomers”. I always appreciate when people are willing to put their time into building something new and then share it with others.

  2. Ray Kopczynski says:

    GS & JJ: Thus spake the arbiters of Albany’s conscience… We should all get down on our knees in subservience!

    • J. Jacobson says:

      It seems you may have achieved awareness. As poorly-paid arbiters, we rarely get the chance to see the positive results of our opinionating. Thanks to the writer, we know we’re having the desired effect.

  3. Bill Kapaun says:

    $300k to turn some flat pavement with painted lines, posts & nets into flat pavement with painted lines, posts & nets.
    Does it have to cost THAT MUCH?

    • Hasso Hering says:

      There’s probably more to it than that. Resurfacing, for instance.

      • Mac says:

        There is. The courts were in terrible condition.

        • centrist says:

          A supervisor at my longterm workplace had a tagline with his signature
          ” Everything takes longer and costs more.”

          Things were cheaper in the good old days, at least in the number (but not necessarily the value)
          Things take longer because of pesky things like workplace safety…..

      • Bill Kapaun says:

        Even though, all the grading etc. is done.
        Scrape up the new pavement and lay down a new layer. Slurry seal?

  4. J. Miller says:

    It’s nice to see our community will have a safe place to play this new sport. With how the sport is growing in our local area, and can be played well into our senior years, the new courts will go to great use! Thank you, City of Albany and LBCC!

  5. Lundy says:

    Yes, $300K does seem sort of spendy, but setting that aside for a moment, what is the negative in people finding enjoyment in a healthy activity?

    • Bill Kapaun says:

      How much cost per person who will actually use the courts?
      Let them have a bake sale!

      • Lundy says:

        My guess is that over time, the per-capita cost will be on par with that of most public recreational facilities, not that there would be anything wrong with the pickleballers supplementing public cash with bake sale proceeds. Also on the financial front, it’s not inconceivable that pickleball (in the form of weekend tourneys) could pump money into the local economy.


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