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Pickleball players grateful, hopeful for future

Hudson public works and parks director Tom Zeuli, left, Paul Anderson, former Hudson mayor Jack Breault and Gary Zappa of Zappa Brothers Construction stand in front of the new pavilion, which includes restrooms, in Anderson Park Wednesday, July 11. Bob Burrows / RiverTown Multimedia 1 / 2
Nearly 40 members of the Hudson Community Pickleball Association stand behind Anderson Park founder Paul Anderson on the park's temporary pickleball courts during a dedication for the park's new pavilion, in background, Wednesday, July 11. Bob Burrows / RiverTown Multimedia 2 / 2

Nearly 40 members of the Hudson Community Pickleball Association turned out to thank local benefactor Paul Anderson Wednesday, July 11, at the park Anderson built in honor of his late father and grandfather.

The occasion was a dedication of a new pavilion, with restrooms, funded by Anderson in the two-acre park the pickleball players call their temporary home.

Anderson bought 93 acres of the old Heggen Farm in 1978 and developed much of it with the exception of two acres he saved for a park in memory of his father and grandfather. The park, dedicated in 1999, is located at the corner of Mont Croix Drive and River Ridge Road, just west of Heggen Street.

Anderson's grandfather, Gustaf Albin Anderson, was a Swedish immigrant who worked for the City of Hudson as street commissioner and water utility superintendent from 1906-48 and then as a landscaper and gardener before his death in 1968.

Anderson's father, Leonard "Cab" Anderson, served Hudson as a member of the city council from 1954-58, chairman of the Hudson Water Utility, assistant and acting postmaster, and was active in many civic groups. Leonard Anderson, who died in 1978, also excelled in tennis, prompting his son Paul to include two tennis courts in the park in his honor. The Hudson Pickleball Association has turned those two tennis courts into four pickleball courts for their temporary summer home.

Anderson said he is happy to see so many people using the park he built in his family's honor.

"My number one priority is to give back to the community and second is to continue the Anderson legacy started by my grandfather and father," he said. "I'm still in shock and awe about these pickleball players."

Pickleball, a combination of tennis, badminton and ping pong, was invented in 1965 on Bainbridge Island near Seattle by three enterprising dads whose children became bored with their usual summertime activities, according to the USA Pickleball Association. It's popularity has grown worldwide since then, including over 2 million players in the USA in 2017.

According to the Hudson Community Pickleball Association, the sport was first played in Hudson in 2012 with four to six "beginners" playing at the YMCA. HCPA was established in 2017 and currently has over 130 players on its member contact list.

HCPA continues to use two indoor courts at the YMCA that provide limited availability but outdoor season play is even more limited with no dedicated pickleball courts in the city. The tennis courts at Anderson Park can be modified to provide four temporary courts, but HCPA is developing a partnership with the City of Hudson and the YMCA to develop as many as eight dedicated public pickleball courts at Grandview Park.

According to Deanna DeGraff of HCPA, public interest in pickleball is steadily growing with many nearby communities investing in and installing dedicated public courts. River Falls, New Richmond and Baldwin currently have four public courts each and Menomonie has six, while across the river, Stillwater has 12 and Woodbury has five. More courts are also being proposed for Prescott, Barron and Cumberland.

DeGraff said HCPA is close to kicking off a fundraising campaign in partnership with the YMCA to assist with construction of the proposed eight public pickleball courts. More information can be found on Facebook at HCPA.

Bob Burrows

Bob Burrows has been sports editor at the River Falls Journal since 1996 and at the Hudson Star-Observer since 2009. Prior to joining the Journal, Burrows served as sports editor with Ledger Publications in Balsam Lake, Wis. A native of Bayonne, N.J. and a U.S. Navy veteran, Burrows attended Marquette University before completing his studies at UW-River Falls in 1992.

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