Pickleball players have to be among the most enthusiastic athletes you’ll find anywhere these days.
Their love of the sport can readily be seen in an event such as the Vancouver Island Pickleball Association’s 90-Minute Tournament Sunday at the Fuller Lake Park courts.
The 90-minute framework within each division kept players hopping and they couldn’t get enough of it. Some of them weren’t even content to keep it up for 90 minutes so they entered two events, turning it into a 180-minute or three-hour extravaganza.
“This tournament format proved once again to be extremely popular with the pickleball community,” noted VIPA president Ken Holman of Chemainus. “The events filled within minutes of the registration opening. The mixed doubles event overfilled and, rather than disappoint so many, we opened up a second event that also filled.”
The women’s doubles event got things going at 10 a.m. After several hotly-contested and fun-filled games, Mary Roberts of North Saanich and Denise Wheeldon from Victoria emerged as the winners.
The team of Melissa Ruel of Port Alberni and Ladysmith’s Barb Lawrie took second place, with Michelle Guidone and Alice Mather both of Nanaimo in third and Victoria’s Beverly DeHaitre and Wendy Lowe rounding out the top four.
In men’s doubles, Victoria’s Gerry Peng and Logan Labossiere captured top spot, with Nanaimo’s Thomas Hunt and Joshua Mitchell the runners-up. Victoria’s Roy Wheeldon and Gord Young were third followed by Crofton’s Scott Carruthers and Rob Macdonald of Shawnigan Lake in fourth.
The first of the two mixed doubles events ended with Port Alberni’s Melissa and Trevor Ruel claiming top honours. Second place went to LeeAnn and Joshua Mitchell of Nanaimo; Victoria’s Denise and Roy Wheeldon finished third; and Ladysmith’s Barb Lawrie joined forces with Rod Hamilton of Comox for fourth.
The championship of the second mixed doubles group was won by Dawn Dueck of Lantzville and Don Venn from Victoria. Second went to Janet Ruest of Chemainus and Rob Macdonald of Shawnigan Lake, third to Lindy Arnold of Victoria and Bob Fish from Youbou; and fourth to Alice Mather of Nanaimo and Crofton’s Scott Carruthers.
The tournament was also bittersweet, as the final one organized by Holman.
”After 10 years, it’s time for new blood,” he indicated. “I was delighted to welcome a number of teenage participants to the tournament. Although once perceived as a sport for seniors, it is now starting to attract a younger demographic. This bodes well for the future of the sport.”