Professional players are bringing their talents and rackets to the courts in Bend. And it comes as Central Oregon deals with a triple-digit temperature heat wave.
It’s not tennis. It’s pickleball.
“So, it’s like a mini carnival of sorts for pickleballers,” said Pacific Northwest Classic Co-Director Christie Gestvang.
That mini carnival is the Pacific Northwest Classic.
More than 600 players from amateurs to pickleball pros are participating in the five-day event, competing for a $25,000 purse.
“I love coming to Central Oregon,” said professional pickleballer Erik Lange. “The smell of the pine trees just feels like vacation. So, this is my favorite tournament. Favorite stop.”
“It’s a great tournament,” said professional pickleballer Wes Gabrielsen. “I love seeing the mountains and the scenery. It is just a great venue. They do a great job, the Bend Pickleball Club, putting it on.”
Professional pickleball teammates Erik and Wes took second at this tournament last year. This year, they are hoping for gold.
The event doesn’t start until Wednesday morning, Tuesday was a meet-and-greet exhibition.
“The exhibition is to showcase pickleball and to showcase pickleball at some of the higher levels and entertain the people,” said Lange.
With temperatures expected to reach triple digits on the High Desert, there is some concern, but the co-director of the tournament says they are doing everything they can to help keep people cool.
“We’ve brought in more Igloo coolers filled with water, we brought in an ice machine, we’ve got a lot of electrolyte stations, we’ve got two tents set up with misters, so people can sit and walk through them,” said Gestvang.
This is the tournament’s 10th year, but what is new is the Pickleball Pints Beer Garden.
Close to 2,000 people are expected to come through during the five-day tournament.
The tournament is held at Pine Nursery park and is free to attend.