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More pickleball courts coming in Bend

BEND, Ore. - Pickleball is a fast-growing sport in Central Oregon, and the Bend Pickleball Club is taking action to see that eight new courts are developed in Bend.

Working in partnership with Bend Park & Recreation District, the club has committed to raise $100,000, or half the cost of the courts, with the district contributing the balance. Community members are already making pledges and donations.

"Though we just began our fundraising efforts, we're very pleased to have raised $25,000 so far," said A.J. Fraties, Bend Pickleball Club president. "We hope to reach our fundraising goal by June in order for construction to occur this summer."

The eight courts will be added to an existing Bend Park & Recreation District park and will be owned and managed by the district for the benefit of the community, with the Bend Pickleball Club assisting with programming, lessons and outreach.

There are an estimated 600 regular players in the area, and the club anticipates an increase of 5,000 more over the next 10 years based on the rapidly growing popularity of pickleball and the percentage of Bend seniors, adults and youth who enjoy active sports. There is a severe shortage of courts in Bend; during summer, there is only one regulation court in the whole city for 600 people to share.

The Bend Pickleball Club is expanding its fundraising efforts to the wider community in order to reach the June goal of $100,000. Any individual interested in making a tax-deductible donation or materials to the project is encouraged to donate online at the Club website, or call A.J. Fraties at 916-257-2097.  

Tax-deductable donations can also be made directly to the Bend Park & Recreation Foundation, the club's partner and the nonprofit charity that supports the provision of parks and recreation in Bend. The address is P.O. Box 1212, Bend, OR.  97709.

Pickleball is played on a badminton-sized court across a net two inches lower than a tennis net. A ball similar to a Whiffle ball is hit with a composite paddle that resembles an oversized table-tennis paddle. The sport is simple to learn, and beginners are often playing on their own by the end of one lesson.

Pickleball is a game of shot placement and patience, not brute power or strength, which is one reason why it appeals to players of all ages.

Invented in the 1960s, pickleball has expanded from a family activity game to a net court sport with formalized rules. Now over 40 years later, pickleball is played in thousands of school physical education programs, parks and recreation centers, camps, YMCAs and fitness centers.

In August 2012, the Bend Pickleball Club, utilizing the park district's Juniper Swim and Fitness Center, hosted a USA Pickleball Association-sanctioned tournament with more than 100 participants from five states playing on the eight tennis courts (adapted temporarily for pickleball).

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