The Surrey Pickleball Club is set to host its first tournament next week, as participation in the sport continues to grow.
The club will serve up the action Saturday, Sept. 10 on the outdoor tennis courts of South Surrey Athletic Park from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. An estimated 100 picklers are expected to participate and compete for medals in the inaugural event.
Pickleball is played on a badminton-sized court with special paddles and a ball similar to a Wiffle ball. The ball is served diagonally, and points can only be scored by the side that serves. A low net and light ball makes the game accessible to people of all ages and abilities, while still allowing more competitive players to test their skills.
“Pickleball is a game that can be picked up relatively quickly if a player has reasonable hand-eye co-ordination and some athletic ability,” said Ross Priebe, chair of the Surrey Pickleball Club committee.
Since the Surrey Pickleball Club started in August 2015, membership has grown to 325. Of those, 190 play each month on the South Surrey Athletic Park courts. Indoor pickleball has also taken off at the South Surrey Recreation Centre, which hosts regular drop-in sessions.
Another group, BC Pickleball, also hosts local games on the Semiahmoo Peninsula.
Priebe said players are drawn to the game for its ease. The sport is contained in a smaller area than tennis, and play is more constant and consistent.
“At times we watch the tennis players in the next courts over, and a considerable amount of time is spent tracking down the errant balls.”
Another draw is the game’s social aspect.
“We do not normally show up with just two or four players. There will likely be 16 to 30 players who connect and show up at the courts together. The last two Saturdays in August we had 45 and 39 players on the courts respectively.”
Although most Surrey Pickleball Club members are over the age of 50, there are growing numbers of younger players taking the sport to a new level in the Lower Mainland, Priebe added.
Priebe said the club is working with the City of Surrey in the hopes of establishing a pickleball-only facility. He said the sport has been dubbed by some as the fastest-growing sport in North America, and some B.C. communities already have facilities for the game, including Abbotsford.
The Surrey Pickleball Club has hosted a couple all-day events in the past year, but Sept. 10 will be the first tournament for the club. Participants will play against other players with the same skill level – and a wide range of skills will take to the courts.
Registration is $10 cash per player, payable on the day of the tournament. A prize raffle is also part of the event.