In 1946 there was no indoor tennis in Portland, but interest was developing.
Someone suggested that the Catlin School on NW Culpepper Terrace had a gymnasium that might be large enough for a tennis court. Claude Hockley and I decided to investigate. Upon measurement, there was room for a court, but not much room behind the baseline, and a low ceiling. We consulted Mrs. Strong the school headmistress, and she finally gave her consent for us to play on weekends. Then, one Sunday morning, I received an urgent call from one of our lady players. She reported that the gymnasium floor had been waxed for a dance, and one lady almost injured herself sliding on the floor. So that ended our play at the Catlin School.
The Portland Armory, at 10th & NW Davis had in earlier years, hosted an exhibition featuring Bill Tilden; also, one featuring Suzanne Lenglen in 1928. The north side of the Armory was a large hall with large windows and a spectator gallery. There was a wrestling ring at one end, and wrestling matches were being held on Friday night.
In 1946, The Portland Armory served as headquarters for the 41st Infantry Division National Guard. Both Hockley and I were in the National Guard, which made it easier to negotiate to install a tennis court for use on Saturdays and Sundays. We agreed to pay for new overhead lights. I don’t remember if we had to pay rent. There were a number of jeeps and recon vehicles parked at one end of the hall, and I constructed some 4’x6′ fence sections to keep tennis balls from straying.
In a short time the Portland Indoor Tennis Club had a large membership. We acquired a phone service to reserve court time. The tennis court was quite satisfactory, and everyone had a good time. We also had permission to use the Officers club room for social gatherings.
The Portland Indoor Tennis Club was Portland’s first indoor tennis club. On several occasions the Club hosted professional tennis exhibitions at the Armory, and they were well attended. Visiting players included Jack Kramer, Robert Riggs, Pancho Segura, Tony Trabert, Pancho Gonzales and Australians Mal Anderson, Dinny Pails, and Lew Hoad.
The last exhibition sponsored by the Club was held at the Coliseum shortly after it opened. It included a one set match between Lew Hoad and Pancho Gonzales won by the latter 21-20. Billy Jean King, Althea Gibson, and the British player Ann Haydon Jones also appeared.
In 1963, the Oregon State Men’s Singles and Doubles finals were played at the Armory on account of rain.
The Portland Indoor Tennis Club stayed in business until its membership was drawn away by new indoor tennis courts in Portland.
Document Source: Sam Lee, 2003