With the number of registered players more than doubling in the last year, pickleball is among the fastest growing sports in Canada.
There are now more than 13,000 people across the country taking to the courts on an annual basis, including more than 400 of those who make their home in Kelowna, often recognized as a hotbed of pickleball.
Last weekend, the game was front and centre in the Okanagan as Pickleball Kelowna played host to the Pickleball Canada National Tournament—featuring 430 players from across North America—at the Parkinson Recreation Centre.
Kelowna’s four-year run as hosts for the national event has come to an end—at least for now—as Kingston, ON has been chosen by Pickleball Canada to host the 2019 tournament.
The 2018 event was played on 12 dedicated pickleball courts at Parkinson, along with 16 more temporary ones on the Basil Meikle Tennis Courts.
If Pickleball Kelowna is to remain firmly on the map for future national events, club spokesman Wayne Pierce said a larger, dedicated pickleball facility will need to be built.
“It’s been a really good run for us, we certainly recognized going into this that Pickleball Canada wants to move this around the country and we understand that,” said Pierce.
“We would like to host this again one day, but with the tremendous growth the sport is enjoying all across the country, we need more facilities here, a platform where all the courts are together. It’s something we’ll continue to pursue with the city.”
Pierce said regardless of when the nationals return, Pickleball Kelowna will continue to host major annual events—perhaps a Canadian Open or Western Canadian championship.
As far as the benefits the community reaps from hosting such events, the nationals this year generated an estimated $1 million for the local economy.
On the court, the 2018 Canada National Tournament was temporarily hindered by rain on Friday afternoon, but Pierce said by mid-day on Saturday all matches were back on schedule.
Here’s a look at how local players fared at the national tournament:
• Men’s doubles senior open—Mike Schwarz and Jay Rippel (Issaquah, WA), gold
• Men’s singles Open—Jordan Renwick, silver
• Women’s Singles Open—Chantal Plamondon, silver
• Mixed Doubles Open—Roberta Meakin and Marco Jankowiak (Fraser Valley), bronze
• Men’s 4.5 doubles—Jordan Renwick and Andreas Wins-Purdy, silver
• Women’s doubles 4.5—Lorena McClure and Jillian Jackson, bronze
• Women’s doubles 4.0— Jillian Nicholls and Chantal Plamondon (Quebec), silver
• Women’s doubles 3.5—Beverly Shoaf and Margaret Kessler, silver
• Women’s doubles Open—Roberta Meakin and Jayna Mikuse (Kamloops), gold; and Laura Schwarz and Sue Fosbery, silver
• Mixed doubles senior Open—Laura Schwarz and Mike Schwarz, silver
• Mixed doubles 4.5—Karen Austin and Naveed Butt (Nanton, AB), bronze
• Mixed doubles 4.0—Stan Kuropatwa and Chantal Plamondon, bronze
• Women’s 3.5 singles—Anne Pettit, silver
• Men’s singles 3.5—Michael Botterill, silver