Tennis fixture Anni Miller steps down after nearly three decades growing the sport in Lake Oswego

by: MATT SHERMAN - Anni Miller stands outside the Lake Oswego Indoor Tennis Center, her home away from home for 28 years.Anni Miller is synonymous with two things: Lake Oswego and tennis. For nearly three decades, Miller has been a fixture in the community, fostering relationships and providing life skills, all through her love of tennis.

And while Miller isn’t quite ready to hang up her racquet for good, her recent retirement as the director of tennis from the city of Lake Oswego marks the end of an era.

It could be argued that Miller, who first started working in Lake Oswego in 1985, has done more for tennis in the city than anyone in those 28 years.

“Packing up my stuff was definitely a big process. It’s a bittersweet experience. I just felt I had done about as much as I could do,” Miller said.

From implementing the Tiny Tots program at the Lake Oswego Indoor Tennis Center, where children as young as 4 years old could learn the basics of the game, to her work with the Lakeridge High School girls program, to the thousands of individuals she taught and played alongside, Miller helped the city become a hotbed for the game.

“I love Lake Oswego. I can’t imagine ever moving out and I wanted our club to be on the map,” Miller said.

Miller grew up around tennis with her grandparents and her mother playing the sport. She and her brother also played while growing up in San Diego, often fetching balls for hours at the local club in return for a lesson at the end of the day.

“We had to work for everything. It didn’t just come to us, and that’s something I always try to convey,” Miller said.

Miller competed in numerous sports growing up, but tennis was always her favorite.

“I love the creativity of the game. Every day is different. I’ve never hit the same shot twice. And it’s a lifetime sport,” Miller said.

After moving to Oregon, Miller became a tennis professional and worked at the Multnomah Athletic Club in Portland, but she always wanted the opportunity to grow the sport in Lake Oswego.

That opportunity came in 1985 and Miller quickly took advantage of MATT SHERMAN - Anni Miller has coached thousands of individuals over the years ranging in age from 4 to 95.

When she started working at the Lake Oswego Indoor Tennis Center, only about 20 families were using the facility. At its peak, those numbers increased by more than 200 percent.

“It was a pretty bare-bones operation for a while. One of the first things I did was to hire certified tennis pros. Then it just started to grow and grow. It became a regional hub and we could take care of a lot of people for a nominal cost,” Miller said.

The center received the USTA award for Facility of the Year (four courts or smaller division) in 2000.

Miller also had an enormous impact on the Lakeridge girls tennis program, which she helmed for 24 years.

In her tenure, the Pacers won five team titles and saw eight doubles teams and six singles players win individual state championships.

Miller prided herself on finding talented athletes and selling them on the game by making things fun in a low-stress environment.

“We just goofed off. It was never about winning; it was about having fun. It was a very supportive environment, and obviously we had very talented athletes, but the winning just took care of itself,” Miller said.

Miller eventually had to step down from her position at Lakeridge because of family issues. While she was caring for her 99-year-old mother, her 2-year-old grandson was diagnosed with leukemia.

Miller’s mother passed away shortly after she stepped down from Lakeridge, but her grandson, in remission, is now a healthy 10-year-old.

In her time as a tennis pro, Miller has taught players from ages 4 to 95 and from all over the Portland metro area, and many still come back to say hello and express their appreciation.

She has received dozens of awards in her lifetime and is well respected across the country and internationally for her contributions to the game of tennis.

“I’ve been able to travel and meet so many wonderful people,” Miller said.

And she still remains competitive in the sport. Miller will continue to compete in tournaments, including one coming up in May in South Carolina.

While Miller has stepped down from her official position, she’ll still be an active and familiar face around town, continuing to support the game of tennis and the community however she can.

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