Thanet saw an influx of National Pickleball Players arrive on the Isle ahead of the UK’s First Outdoor Pickleball Championships on Sunday 11 September. The tournament was hosted at Spencer Square Pavilion, Ramsgate which saw the venue transform its facility to offer 8 competition Pickleball courts.
US Open Silver Medal winner Sheena Maclean-Bell and Bonita Baker-Robins from Maidstone were crowned National Champions as they battled out in the final with aspiring talent Dane Court Grammar pupil 17 year old Harrison Wood and Jordan Norton-Mckenzie, the three set decider was closely fought with Maclean-Bell and Baker-Robins wining 11-9 11-9 in front of a full house of spectators.
London doubles Julie Mac and Faye Plummer won the Rally Challenge.
Over the last year Pickleball has boomed in popularity across Thanet, with regular weekly coaching sessions now taking place in a range of schools, leisure centres, right through to funded sessions delivered in partnership with Motiv8 Sport & Ageless Thanet’s 50+ programme.
August 2016 saw the only dedicated Pickleball facility in Europe open at the Memorial Recreation Ground in Broadstairs, this dedicated facility has been funded by Thanet District Council and offers 8 courts for community use and is regularly full with a line of people waiting to play.
35 players from Kent, 15 of those from Thanet head to Madrid this week to compete in the International Tournament where they will compete with players from all over the world.
The tournaments youngest player will be Thanet’s Harrison Wood, who at just 17 is being coached and sponsored by Motiv8 Sports under the “Aspiring Talent” Programme, Motiv8 Director Clare Maclean-Bell said, Having spent time in the USA over the last two years, the UK is considerably behind with the development of Pickleball due to its emergence here being pretty recent, we aim to develop young players to compete internationally offering a great level of skill on parity with the young talent we are seeing being developed in the USA and Canada. Harrison has shown amazing growth over the last several months, he has competed in Amsterdam in May this year as well as heading to Madrid.