The Brandon Pickleball Club’s Fall Grip It and Rip It Pickleball Tournament took place Saturday and Sunday.
Brandon Pickleball Club president and tournament organizer Jackie Jacobsen said it was exciting to be back competing together.
“We had no tournaments since 2018,” Jacobsen said. “We had a tournament planned for last year and the year before, and both of them got cancelled because of COVID.”
The competition marked the first outdoor pickleball tournament held in Brandon and saw 68 athletes take to the courts at Stanley Park, competing in men’s doubles, ladies’ doubles and mixed doubles over the weekend. Competitors faced off in four different categories, ranging from 2.5, a ranking for beginner players, to 4.0, more experienced players.
Jacobsen said it was her goal to get a tournament organized at the outdoor pickleball courts as soon as possible after resurfacing of the area was completed.
“We wanted to promote the sport and just see what the interest would be,” Jacobsen said.
The tournament successfully came together in about two weeks.
They were determined to hit the courts, and the first weekend of October proved to be the first time they were able to host a tournament and adhere to COVID-19 public health measures. Health protocols played a major role in planning for the tournament, Jacobsen added, because they were unable to have a large group gather until this weekend.
There was a push to host the tournament while public health measures allowed, she said, because there were concerns about when the next tournament would be possible if restrictions increased in the province.
Pickleball is a combination of sports using a badminton court, tennis net and ping-pong paddles for a game. During a game, players use a wiffle ball.
Jacobsen said pickleball is quickly becoming one of the most popular sports in North America.
“It’s growing by leaps and bounds,” Jacobsen said. “These courts, it doesn’t matter morning or evening, they’re full on a normal day. It is growing like crazy right now.”
The sport is geared toward seniors and serves as a great athletic option for those forced to quit sports they love. The pickleball court is a good place to come and play a game, she said, because the sport is easy on the body and a great chance to connect with new friends.
She added the Brandon Pickleball Club is hoping to see more youth playing the sport and is looking to host clinics and tournaments for young people.
Jacobsen is also president of Healthy Living Centre (HLC) Pickleball, she added, and the organization is continually working to help grow the sport, including the possibility of holding future tournaments.
Pickleball is available at the indoor HLC courts every morning and evening, but courts must be pre-booked for play.
The City of Brandon is hosting a series of Fresh Air Fitness Days to encourage residents to try out new activities — pickleball will be featured on Oct. 19. Jacobsen and three other organizers will be hosting a clinic.
The Brandon Pickleball Club had a great experience hosting a clinic in August and saw seven of the 12 people who participated continue to play the game.
“We supply the paddle, the ball and everything. All you have to do is bring your runners,” Jacobsen said with a grin. “It’s easy to pick up and it’s just a fun sport.”
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Chelsea Kemp, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun