New players welcome on National Pickleball Day

Aug. 10 is National Pickleball Day, a time for pickleball clubs throughout Canada to invite new players to the game. Some clubs hold tournaments, others run guest events. In our community, the Sunshine Coast Pickleball Association (SCPA) has been adding players at an amazing rate since 2009 when a handful of locals gathered at Hackett Park to play the game for the first time. SCPA now boasts 200 active members and a further 150 are expected to join the club over the next three years. 

Members credit Davis Bay resident Karen Renfrew for bringing the fastest growing sport in the world to our community. Karen discovered the game and the inspiration to spread the word while on vacation in Palm Springs. Once home, she drew chalk lines on Hackett Park’s asphalt and called upon some friends to give it a try. 

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“The moment I saw the game played down there,” she said, “I knew it would be a success up here. To this day, nothing gives me more pleasure than sharing a few helpful hints with new players. I tell them to keep the ball low, don’t hit hard, and keep the ball in play. That’s about all you need to know to get started … and to become addicted.” 

A few years ago, former tennis player Peter Fisher followed Karen’s advice soon after he and wife JoAnne Bentley moved to the coast from Ontario. “Right away, we liked this game with the funny name,” he said. “We also liked the camaraderie that came with it. Our tennis skills allowed us to reach a level of play where we could compete and enjoy the game in a very short time.” 

Adds JoAnne, “We’ve played pickleball in many locations across the U.S., Canada and Mexico – convenient that paddles travel easily in a backpack. We both love watching top line tennis, but now prefer to play pickleball!” 

Ian Overend, another Ontario transplant, likes what the game does for his health and mobility, his social life in the community and his ability to learn a new skill. 

“The cost to play is very low, and the benefits are tremendous, especially the amount of fun I’m having,” he said. 

To celebrate National Pickleball Day, the Sunshine Coast Pickleball Association is inviting new players to give the game a try at the Sechelt arena between 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 10. The club will offer free coaching and have paddles (racquets) available for all novice players. SCRD entry fee is only $4.

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