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Tennis pros say racquet club serves them well

Trio has taught at Mountain Park facility for 25 years


by: COURTESY OF MOUNTAIN PARK RACQUET CLUB - Tennis pros (from left) Mike Pazourek, Roger McKee and Mike Kanapeaux have stayed together for 25 years at Mountain Park Racquet Club.Tennis pros come and go, often bouncing from job to job in lateral and upward moves to further a career.

Sometimes one pro will stay in one place for what seems forever, but rarely do a fleet of them stick in the same spot.

Except at Mountain Park Racquet Club.

Roger McKee, Mike Kanapeaux and Mike Pazourek recently celebrated their 25th anniversary as pros at the private Lake Oswego facility.

Together.

"It's unheard of," says Karey Welling, general manager at both Mountain Park and Beaverton's West Hills Racquet Club.

"Unprecedented, probably anywhere in the U.S.," says Patricia McKinnon, a longtime member at Mountain Park.

"Unique" is the adjective used by McKee, Kanapeaux and Pazourek of their time together.

"It's a pretty amazing situation," says McKee, 61, the club's director of tennis. "It's not unusual for a club to have a pro for 25 years, but to have two, let alone three, stay together that long … I don't know of any other tennis facility that has had anything like this."

"There's quite a bit of turnover in the tennis industry," says Pazourek, 51. "For the three of us to stay together like this, it's special."

McKee was hired in 1989 out of Eugene's Willow Creek Racquet Club, then given the opportunity to hire his two assistants. McKee, a fixture on the Pacific Northwest scene as a player after a standout college career under Paul Valenti at Oregon State, borrowed on his experience to add Kanapeaux and Pazourek to his staff.

"They were excellent players, but what I liked was the personalities," McKee says. "And what really came through within a few years was that egos were not going to get in the way. That's often what can cause problems with any staff. We've all been able to work together and realize the benefit for the club is greater than for any of us as individuals."

All are Northwest natives — McKee from Roseburg, Kanapeaux from Salem, Pazourek from Tacoma, Wash.

"We spent a lot of time together earlier in our careers and came up with a philosophy of working together," said Kanapeaux, 49, who played collegiately at St. Mary's. "We spent a lot of time off the court, which gave us time to get to know each other.

"Roger's the one who keeps things together, but there's a shared trust among us. He has enough trust and respect for us that he lets us do what we need to do and doesn't micromanage us."

McKee and Kanapeaux "have been pretty easy to work with," says Pazourek, a left-hander who played his college tennis at Texas A&M. "We all get along so well, it's been easy."

The pros, who are now abetted by the presence of three part-time pros, have stayed on in no small part to the stability of the 650-member club and their affinity for the area.

"We all came in with young families, got connected to the Lake Oswego community and felt there was room for growth in terms of our profession and the club," McKee says. "The ownership and management has been very consistent and solid through the years. It's been a good membership to be involved with, with a lot of active tennis players who have been willing to learn and want to get involved. We've done our best to try to keep things organized on a consistent basis."

He'll get no argument from those around him.

"Honest to God, I feel blessed to have worked with this team of pros," says Welling, who has worked in various capacities at Mountain Park since the 1970s and took over as manager in 1990. "It makes my job so much easier. They're part of the fabric of the club. It's been an amazing run.

"They've done such a good job of meeting the needs of club members, starting with beginners and helping turn them through to the high end. They develop kids, and they develop the adult players. They coach everybody at whatever level they are and whatever they need."

McKinnon has been a Mountain Park member since 1990 and has enjoyed working with the teaching trio.

"It's been absolutely fabulous," she says. "They're all highly qualified, are highly regarded and still enthusiastic and dedicated and concerned. It goes past the usual, 'Let's go teach a tennis lesson to a bunch of old ladies in short skirts.'"

McKinnon calls the threesome "a compelling mix — different personalities, but able to work together in close quarters. And there are all kinds of demands for their time. They run all the city league and USTA teams. At some facilities, they'll let the members take over. But they're very involved, and they're very fair. They always listen. You might not agree with them, but they don't blow you off. They'll listen to what you have to say."

Kanapeaux and Pazourek have had opportunities to move into top-pro positions over the years but have stayed put.

"It's such a premier club," Pazourek says. "There are very few places where I'd want to be the tennis director instead of staying as an assistant at Mountain Park. Classy people, classy organization."

"If anything, the story should be about our membership," Kanapeaux says. "It's a business built on relationships. We have a long-standing past together, and a lot of long-standing members. The product is tennis, but we're on the court and walking the halls with these people. It's been a great place to work."

Can the group stay together another 25 years? McKee would be only 86.

"I'm on a five- to 10-year plan," he says with a laugh.

"I'm hoping to get another 15 years in," Kanapeaux says. "That's what I'm shooting for."

"I'm taking it year to year at this point," Pazourek says. "I'm not quite as springy-legged as I was when I started here at 26."

McKinnon says she'll take them as long as possible.

"I can't think of too many offices in any line of work where there have been three people running things who have stayed together that long," she says. "It's remarkable. Life hasn't taken them in a different direction. It's a great story."

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