Charbonneau preserves history with Oregon tennis exhibit
With the help of club manager and Chairman of the Oregon Tennis Historical Committee Steve Hall, Charbonneau Tennis Club now spotlights a small exhibit documenting the 100-plus year history of tennis in Oregon.
While clubs like Multnomah Athletic Club and Irvington Club plaster histories of their own club on interior walls, Charbonneau's exhibit is dedicated to the history of Oregon tennis as a whole.
The exhibit, as well as the website oregontennishistory.com, features a decade-by-decade breakdown of the major events in Oregon tennis history from 1880 until now: a history of past winners in junior and senior level tennis, a list of boys and girls high school tennis teams and individual state champions, a history of major tournaments such as the Oregon state tournament and the Denny Cardinall tournament, a list of United State Tennis Association Pacific Northwest Hall of Fame players and a history of major tennis clubs and tennis associations.
Old wooden racquets and a couple Charbonneau Golf Club shirts accompany the pages of information and pictures on the walls. Hall recalls playing with wooden racquets when he competed for Roseburg High School and Oregon State University way back when.
"We have old racquets running out our ears. People tell me all the time 'We've cleaned out our attic and have some old racquets,'" he said.
Hall and others started the historical committee in 1990 and collected information for decades thereafter in order to preserve the memory of Oregon greats.
"I've been a member of the Irvington Club for years and all of these old guys were there and they were dying away and their scrapbooks were getting lost," Hall said. "We've had a lot of different projects and have had a lot of fun."
While former players like Sam Lee put together the information for the exhibit, Hall typed it all up and created the website. He said he put in hundreds of hours of work into the project.
Hall is saddened that the people who are interested in Oregon tennis history are passing away and that the subsequent generations aren't as enthused with the sport as youth once were.
"The people that love this stuff are kind of fading away. It's kind of sad," he said. "The thing that is sad is the USTA is not emphasizing tournaments anymore like they used to. The number of tournaments is dwindling. That's one of the things that motivates the kids is to play in tournaments and to watch tournaments like our exhibition that we had here."
Still, he and others felt that preventing the sport's past from slipping through the ephemeral grasp of human memory was an important task.
"There's very few organizations like it in tennis that have done this type of job of preserving things," he said.