Pickleball History of Grand Junction

Pickleball play in Grand Junction, Colo., began in 2009 when Nancy Friedman brought the sport with her from Arizona. She convinced Grand Junction Parks and Recreation to put pickleball lines on both sides of one tennis court at Lincoln Park and build two portable pickleball nets. That first year we had about 20 players involved and we played on weekdays, though it was not always possible to get at least four players to show up. As the number of players grew, we had lines painted on another tennis court and played seven days a week.

Nancy Friedman moved permanently to Arizona in 2012 and left us a legacy to upkeep. She passed the baton of pickleball
leadership to George Gerson and Ken Hobbs.

In 2013, the eight existing tennis courts at Lincoln Park, which were in very bad shape, were replaced with four new tennis courts, four “starter” tennis courts for small children, and four dedicated pickleball courts.

While construction of the new courts at Lincoln Park was underway, pickleball lines were drawn on two existing tennis courts at Pine Ridge Park, located in the Redlands, so pickleball players had a place to play. After the Lincoln Park courts were completed, players petitioned GJ Parks and Rec to allow pickleballers to continue to use Pine Ridge Park as a second pickleball location. That gave us eight outdoor pickleball courts.

In 2014, GJ Parks and Rec painted pickleball lines in the Lincoln Park Barn so as to provide three indoor courts for use in the winter.

In 2016, it became evident the four “starter” tennis courts at Lincoln Park were hardly being used by junior tennis players. Since they were the right size for pickleball, GJ Parks and Rec added pickleball lines to those courts and that increased the number of outdoor pickleball courts in the City of Grand Junction to 12.

In 2017, the Pine Ridge courts were resurfaced, one tennis court was removed, and the number of pickleball courts was increased from four to six. As of the start of 2018, we have 14 outdoor courts and three indoor courts with more than
500 players in the Grand Valley (Grand Junction, Fruita, and Palisade).

The Western Slope Pickleball Club, a 501(c)(7) nonprofit, was founded in 2016 under the leadership of diehard pickleball player Brenda Furnace. As the sport was rapidly growing in the valley, Furnace saw a need to further organize and unite pickleball players in western Colorado. The club’s primary objective is to grow the sport of pickleball in the Grand Junction area and work with GJ Parks and Rec to improve and increase our playing facilities. At the end of its second year of operation (2017-2018), the WSPC had 262 members, and we are planning for an even bigger membership in 2018-2019.

Organized pickleball in Grand Junction is not even 10 years old, and look how far we’ve come.

Article written by George Gerson, a pickleball pioneer in Grand Junction, and tireless tournament volunteer, trainer, and membership director of the Western Slope Pickleball Club.