The Forest Grove/Cornelius Chamber of Commerce is hosting its 1st Annual Tualatin Valley Pickleball Tournament in conjunction with its ongoing Sesquicentennial celebratory activities, honoring the city's 150 years of existence.
The tournament — sponsored by Lawrence Sports, David Hill Vineyards and Winery, and Elk Cove Vineyards — is being held Sept. 10-11 at Rogers Park in Forest Grove.
Forest Grove/Cornelius Chamber of Commerce Director Juanita Lint said she and the rest of her fellow Chamber members are excited to be adding one of the country's most exciting new sports to the city's 150-year celebration.
"Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in the nation," Lint said, "and with the renovation of the courts in Roger's Park, how better to celebrate Forest Grove's Sesquicentennial than to kick off the 1st Annual Tualatin Valley Pickleball Tournament at this park."
And she's not wrong. According to The Sports & Fitness Industry Association 2022 Sports, Fitness, and Leisure Activities Topline Participation Report, the sport — which incorporates aspects of both tennis and ping-pong — has been the fastest growing sport in America two years running. As part of the study, participation in 120 sports, recreation, and fitness activities are tracked and recorded.
Hillsboro resident and Pickleball Hall of Famer Steve Paranto said Oregon's affection for pickleball aligns with recent studies, and that the sport continues to attract both young and older participants.
"There's been unbelievable growth in our area and Oregon," Paranto said. "It's exciting."
As part of Rogers Park's recent renovation, pickleball courts were installed along with tennis and basketball courts.
Paranto — who's also a licensed pickleball instructor — said that existing and new facilities continue to build or renovate courts all around the Portland Metropolitan area in order to support the sport's rapidly growing population.
"There's a new club in Clackamas called RECS and it has nine beautiful indoor cushioned courts," Paranto said. "Oregon Golf Club just put in courts, Rolling Hills church put three dedicated courts in their basement with more to come, Ida B. Wells High School turned their two tennis courts into six pickleball courts, and Canby just put in permanent courts. I actually can't keep up with all the new courts."
Brandon Lawrence is helping to run the tournament in Forest Grove and said it will include five divisions and will be broken up by player skill level: Men's Singles, Men's Doubles, Women's Singles, Women's Doubles, and Mixed Doubles. The cost for participants is $35 and prize money will be awarded for all divisions based on the number of registrations.
Lawrence added that he's expecting upwards of 50 competitors and that they'll be coming from all around the Willamette Valley.
According to USA Pickleball, 4.8 million people play the sport nationwide. Tom Cove, President/CEO of the Sports & Fitness Industry Association said that while the sport of pickleball — being an outdoor sport — was certainly aided by the pandemic, it had been and — he believes — will continue to grow going forward.
"It is almost a cliché at this point that the pandemic did not so much create trends as much as accelerated them," Cove said in an interview with USA Pickleball. "Pickleball has grown in popularity for the past five years and did not miss a beat during the pandemic. Pickleball's growth trajectory gives every indication it will be a significant part of the American sport landscape for the foreseeable future."
Lint's excited for the event and believes it will be another in a long line of successes regarding the city's year-long Sesquicentennial celebration.
"The Sesquicentennial activities have been great," she said. "It's been a year-long celebration of Forest Grove's great history and as the year progresses, the events keep growing from the Corn Roast and Harvest Festival to the Oktoberfest and beyond."
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