Pickleball athletes hit the court at Silver Creek Elementary School. The inaugural Hope Pickleball Tournament debuts on Saturday (April 30) at the Hope Recreation Centre. (File photo)

Pickleball athletes hit the court at Silver Creek Elementary School. The inaugural Hope Pickleball Tournament debuts on Saturday (April 30) at the Hope Recreation Centre. (File photo)

Inaugural Hope Pickleball Tournament debuts on Saturday

Hope Recreation Centre hosting dozens of players for debut tournament

The inaugural Hope Pickleball Tournament debuts on Saturday (April 30) and it’s a sign that the game many call “the fastest growing sport in Canada” has arrived locally.

The event, presented by the Hope and District Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by Fraser Health, occurs inside the Hope Recreation Centre and will feature singles and doubles action.

It all gets underway at 9 a.m. with mixed doubles hitting the court. That portion of the tournament is expected to wrap up at around noon. Action resumes at 1 p.m. with men’s and women’s singles joining the fray.

Participants must pay a registration fee of $15 plus an additional $15 per event they enter. Players at level 3.5 or under are invited and USAPA approved paddles only can be used by players.

Coun. Victor Smith is one of the organizers of the event and he stated that he’s pleased to see the tournament come together.

“It’s all about people having fun, being a part of something new and making new friends and staying healthy,” he said. “We’re trying to do some more events at the HRC in the off season to get momentum going and get that good feeling with everyone.”

Smith said organizers leaned on players from Chilliwack for tips on how to put the tournament together. The Chilliwack club has grown substantially in the past five years, with 56 members in 2017 to now 360 in 2022. Smith said there are around 50 players in Hope, but the demand seems to be increasing.

“What they’ve been doing is bringing their friends to games so the rec centre has stepped up and is now hosting pickleball three times a week,” Smith said of the local demand.

He said in the summer there are talks to possibly convert one of Hope’s existing tennis courts into a pickleball dedicated court.

Pickleball initially arrived in Hope back in 2013, and the Standard reported at the time that it was brought by resident Jon Nigh. Games initially took place art the Silver Creek Elementary School gym. It quickly became a regular Monday night event at the school and has continued to grow in the years since.

The game’s growth in Chilliwack also sparked interest in the sport in the region.

RELATED: Upgraded Chilliwack pickleball courts open with new state-of-the-art surface

Chilliwack’s pickleball courts were originally built in 2018 at Kinsmen Park on Portage Avenue and featured three basic outdoor pickleball courts with asphalt surfacing. In 2020, the city extended the play area, thanks to funding from the Chilliwack Pickleball Club ($5,000), and upgraded the outdoor courts.

Then in 2021, the city upgraded the courts once more to install the new acrylic surface. This $20,000 project was funded by the City ($15,000) and the Chilliwack Pickleball Club ($5,000).

Over the years, the club also received two separate $4,000 grants from the city’s Grass Roots Grant Program, all of which has gone to the Kinsmen courts. In total, the club has put in $18,000 for the courts.

Smith said a number of players from Chilliwack and other Fraser Valley communities will be competing in the tournament. Prizes for the winners and gift bags will be handed out to all competitors. There are

He said he hopes this tournament becomes an annual event.

“We’d like to move it forward for next year and the future,” he said. “We’re trying to get more events and that’s why Fraser Health wanted to get involved – we both want more stuff out there for people to stay healthy and be active.”

For more details on the event, email info@hopechamber.ca.

With files from – Jenna Hauck and Patrick Penner, Black Press

RELATED: Pickleball is picking up fans in Hope

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