bobby Carlsen and partner with gold medals

Naperville Native Bobby Carlsen Brings Home Pickleball Championship

November 17, 2022
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Naperville Native Bobby Carlsen spent his youth thriving on the baseball diamond. Whether it was playing for the Naperville North Huskies, in college at Oklahoma State University or at the professional level with the Oakland A’s and Cincinnati Reds organizations, Carlsen was always able to perform at a high level.

Now, the former Naperville Park District Board Member is showcasing his athletic prowess on a national stage at the USA Pickleball National Championship in Indian Wells, California. In order to earn a spot at Nationals, Carlsen won Men’s Doubles at the Association of Pickleball Professionals tournament held at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York back in May. Despite only playing the sport for a few years, Carlsen has quickly risen the ranks in his age division in tournaments across the country. But he developed an interest for the sport at home in Naperville.

Carlsen Finds Love of New Sport Close to Home

“My pickleball journey began when I was a Naperville Park District Board Member and saw the sport being played at Fort Hill Fitness Center, says Carlsen. “I was fascinated, bought a paddle, and jumped into the avid pool of players Fort Hill has. I realized I wanted to compete in tournaments a couple years ago and have been training 4-5 times per week around the Chicago area with the best players in Chicagoland.”

Pickleball National Championships

At USA Pickleball National Championship, Carlsen and his partner from Chicago, Chase Carman, won gold in the 4.5 35+ Men’s Doubles Amateur Division. Being involved in athletics his whole life has made the transition into competing in tournaments a smooth one for the former Huskies baseball standout.

“Playing at Naperville North and Division I baseball at Oklahoma State definitely helps my aptitude for the sport as does playing AAA hockey growing up for Team Illinois.”

Pickleball Growing in Naperville and Beyond

Pickleball has exploded in popularity and Naperville is no exception, with courts opening across the city in recent years and even more on the horizon.

“Naperville has pickleball courts because of Naperville residents Jim Wehrli and Jim Camasto,” explained Carlsen. “They came to me wanting Naperville Park District to build courts, so I encouraged them to come in front of the board and we approved it immediately.  Nike Sports Complex had the courts installed within 6 months, to my knowledge. We now have more courts at Knoch Park, Wolf’s Crossing Park and coming soon to Frontier Sports Complex.”

Bobby Carlsen will continue to pursue success on the pickleball courts in Naperville and in tournaments across the U.S. and with so many local residents picking up the sport, it won’t be long before other Naperville natives are ready to compete at the Championship level as well.