Scotland to host first pickleball championship amid ‘unprecedented’ growth

The sport is a combination of tennis, badminton and table tennis with 10,000 registered players - including Judy Murray.

First pickleball championship planned amid ‘unprecedented’ growth in popularity PA Media

It is a sport hailing stars such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Matthew Perry, the Kardashians and even Bill and Melinda Gates as fans, and soon Scotland will hold its first ever national pickleball championships.

Invented in 1965, pickleball has exploded in popularity in the United States, with more than five million registered players.

The sport is a combination of tennis, badminton and table tennis and has 10,000 registered players in Scotland, including one famous face.

More commonly associated with tennis, Judy Murray became a fan of the sport after she first tried it during a visit to South Carolina.

She said: “The sport has exploded in America. I can see the same thing happening here because it’s so much more accessible than any other sport.

“As an older tennis player, I love the fact it’s on a smaller court, and it’s less frenetic. All the skills are easily adapted so it doesn’t need endless coaching.

“People can pick it up really quickly, regardless of their age or ability. The fun of sport is competing and people can play a game straight away. I loved it from the get-go and I want more Scots to try it.

“It can be played on a badminton court – which every school and community centre across the country has. Its growth is inevitable, and I reckon it’s only a matter of time before it becomes an Olympic and Paralympic sport.

“I hope sportscotland acts quickly and supports the growth of this fun, sociable, accessible, and very doable sport.”

Former Commonwealth Games table tennis players Corrina Whittaker and Lucy Elliott are hoping to become Scotland’s first ever pickleball champion at the Scottish nationals and masters being held in Milngavie, East Dunbartonshire, from June 2 to 4.

Elliott represented Scotland at the Birmingham Games last year.

She has type one diabetes and says pickleball is one of the most accessible sports.

“I want to lead the way and help take the sport to more people, because it’s such a wonderful sport for any age or ability,” she said.

“It will be a great event with everyone from all over Scotland coming together to play in this. Old habits die hard – I’m ambitious and competitive, ultimately I want to win.

“Sport is great for anyone’s physical and mental health, and pickleball is undoubtedly one of the most accessible sports, so I want more people to play.

“Hopefully we can raise the profile, push the sport forward, and maybe one day there will be a possibility of representing Great Britain at the Olympics.”

Mhairi Adam, chair of Pickleball Scotland, said: “I’ve never seen a sport become this popular, this quickly. It’s unprecedented. We hope that the event will further raise the profile of pickleball and encourage more people to take up the sport – we’re ambitious and we believe in the sport.

“The response to the championships and the enthusiasm shown by players from all over Scotland and beyond has been sensational. The age range goes from eight to 80 and we’re excited to see a number of wheelchair athletes compete.

“With the increasing popularity of pickleball and the success of these championships, it is clear that this inclusive, fun and friendly sport has a very bright future in Scotland.”

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