BEND, Ore. - In its first year as a part of the Oregon Senior Games, pickleball has drawn competitors from all over the country, including two friends from Florida.
Gail Brown and Diane Reynolds share 38 years of friendship and a love of pickleball. They've been traveling across the country, playing in tournaments in 21 different states.
It's a journey that has made them closer as friends.
"We've been friends for such a long time, and we get along well," Reynolds said Friday. "Hopefully we won't kill each other today, because when you're good friendsm sometimes you say things you shouldn't during a game -- so we'll try to be good."
The dynamic duo of Brown and Reynolds has conquered pickleball courts all over the country, partly due to their competitive spirit.
"Of course, always hoping to win," Reynolds said.
"Oh yeah, we came here to win, no kidding," Brown said.
That competitive drive has allowed them to play well through the years.
"I like the idea that at my age, I can still play and be competitive," Brown said.
Tournament Director Christie Gestvang said she stumbled upon the duo on the United States of America Pickleball Association website. That's where they posted, saying they were coming to Bend.
"It's just great to have these two gals show up here in Bend," Gestvang said. "It's been so much fun to meet all the folks from all over the United States, but they've been extra-special."
That kind of vibe is felt at each pickleball tournament the doubles team has competed in.
"When you go to tournaments like this, you'll pick up a couple people that know you, played in tournaments with you," Brown said. "It's neat, and pickleball people are good people."
Reynolds discovered the sport when she noticed a court across the street from her mother's house. Since then, it's brought her lots of joy.
"It just is the light of my life at this age," Reynolds said. "It's so much fun, there's so many people, I've traveled all over the country, to Canada and Mexico. It's just been a fantastic game."
Brown and Reynolds plan to play in the co-ed doubles tournament Saturday morning. The games are open to spectators at Pine Nursery Park.