West Kelowna will be host to the first Pickleball tournament of its kind in the nation next weekend.
Pickleball, which was invented in 1965, has found a rapid increase in popularity in recent years.
The brain-child of a Washington congressman and businessman adopts rules and playing styles from tennis, ping pong and badminton to amalgamate into the interesting and quickly expanding sport it has become.
According to Hugh Gordon, West Kelowna Pickleball Club President, West Kelowna’s Canadian National Super Seniors Pickleball tournament will be the first in Canada with restrictions requiring players to be aged 60 or over as of December 31, 2018, to participate.
The nearly 270 elderly athletes playing at the Mount Boucherie Racquet Centre will be separated into skill level and then further diluted into two divisions: one for players aged 60 to 64 and the second division for players 65 and older.
For the first of its kind in Canada, Gordon was blown away by the widespread interest that was shown for the tournament, with players travelling in from as far east as the prairie provinces and a couple of groups journeying from south of the border to play.
"I'm ecstatic with the attendance that we've got on this, it just blows me away how well we're doing," said Gordon, who added that the unanticipated attendance has pushed them to full capacity.
"We have 8 permanent courts and two temporary courts so we're limited in the number of people we can host and we're pretty much at our maximum."
Festivities for the Pickleball Canada sanctioned tournament will begin on Thursday morning with the men’s doubles beginning promptly after opening ceremonies.
Friday will see women’s doubles with the tournament ending on Saturday following the mixed doubles taking to the court. Sunday will be used as a "rain day," if needed to allow for any mishaps that may occur over the weekend.
Champions will take home a "gold medal and bragging rights," laughed Gordon.
Spectators are also invited to join and will be able to take in the tournament free of charge with vendors also being on site to keep the viewers fed during the games.
With the outstanding interest being directed to the tournament, Gordon is already excited to bring it back again for 2019.
“I’m quite confident it will grow over the next few years,” he commented.
If the concept of the rising sport of Pickleball entices you, WKPC holds weekly lessons every Wednesday from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. to help newcomers pick it up.
However, due to the tournament in the upcoming week, the opportunity is not available this week.