Vernon ready to host first ever provincial championship

Pickleballers are coming

Tracey Prediger

The newly trained referees are certified, the porta-potties are coming, and there are only a handful of spots to fill of the 200 volunteer positions needed to successfully host B.C.’s first ever Provincial Pickleball Championship.

The four-day event starting May 11 will be the largest of its kind ever held in Canada.

“It’s scary,” says Vernon Pickleball Association president Richard Chambers, who admits he’s been waking up in the middle of the night, going over details.

“There’s just so many pieces to this endeavour,” he says of the event, which is expecting more than 650 competitors.

“It’s not just the players, it’s the dinner for 300, the thousand soccer players that will be on the fields on the Saturday and the traffic…”

The tennis courts in front of the VPA building at Marshall Fields will be converted to 12 additional pickleball courts, bringing the total to 24 courts running for the tournament.

Chambers says all four corners of the province will be represented.

“They’re coming from Terrace to Trail, Cranbrook to Kitimat, and there will even be players coming from Masset on Haida Gwaii.”

Chambers adds: “There has been such a pent up demand for this.”

There will be competitors as young as 13 to players well into their 80s.

In the three short years Vernon Pickleball Association has been running, it has been able to grow its membership to over 900 players, with another 100 on the waiting list. Those numbers make it the largest pickleball club in the province.

For anyone who has some racquet experience, it’s an easy game to learn, and the skills quickly transfer.

“I think if people come to watch, they’ll be surprised by the athleticism, especially for the people over 60,” says Chambers.

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