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First national Pickleball competition set for Rotorua

17 August 2018

Pickleball players from throughout New Zealand are being invited to Rotorua in October to compete in the country’s first open tournament.

Born in the USA, Pickleball was introduced to New Zealanders first in Rotorua. A cross between tennis, badminton and table tennis, Pickleball is played using paddles and a plastic ball with holes in it and a net set at about tennis-height.

An estimated 2.5 million people play in the USA. Since being introduced to Rotorua in 2015 by returning Kiwis Claire Spackman and David McNamara and local Sharon Fleet, the sport has spread throughout New Zealand with at least 12 clubs and scores of club and casual players.

Pickleball Rotorua secretary Cathy Jackson says the tournament on the weekend of 6-7 October is open to anybody playing the sport in New Zealand. Rotorua Lakes Council is supporting the tournament and prizes will be available.

This first tournament will have a specially-fashioned prize dedicated to the memory of Minarapa (Mina) Mitai-Ngatai, one of the older players of the club who died this year. Mina, who was 84, come to the Badminton Hall to play Pickleball at least twice a week.

Cathy says Pickleball is great for older people who have played sports and want to stay active, but the club also attracts younger players who enjoy the fun, social side of weekly games played on Monday nights and on Thursdays.

The tournament is timed to give players and friends and families to also enjoy visiting Rotorua. Competition games are expected to extend over into Sunday morning, with friendly games possible afterwards if time allows.

The prizegiving is scheduled for 11.30 am, and the inaugural AGM is scheduled for 12.00pm. Those involved will put together a plan to create a formal Pickleball New Zealand sports body to help further grow and develop the sport.

The details are as follows:

Event: 2018 Rotorua Pickleball Open Tournament

Date: Saturday 6 (all day) and Sunday 7 October (midday);

Where: Rotorua Badminton Hall, 24 Tarewa Place, Rotorua

Who: Players invited from clubs throughout New Zealand

Tournament entry costs:?

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