Pickleball star from Berkhamsted praises 'friendly' fast-growing sport after claiming bronze in championships

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Pickleball has seen a meteoric rise in the UK

A pickleball star from Berkhamsted has praised the ‘friendly’ fast-growing sport – which combines elements of tennis, badminton and ping-pong – after claiming bronze in the national championships.

West Hertz Wizards’ Roy Eastwood and Tim Gill, played in the men’s 60+ 4.0 doubles division, during the 2023 English Nationals at the Bolton Arena at the weekend.

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The duo – who took gold at the English Open in August ­– sailed through the group stage but came unstuck in the semi-final, losing to eventual champions Stuart Foster and Richard Millman.

Roy Eastwood (second from right) at The Skechers Pickleball English Nationals.Roy Eastwood (second from right) at The Skechers Pickleball English Nationals.
Roy Eastwood (second from right) at The Skechers Pickleball English Nationals.

However, Roy said he was delighted with their efforts after making the step up in competition following their tournament win in August.

The 63-year-old added: “It’s fantastic, we played together at Telford [in the English Open] and as a result of winning that we got moved up a level.

“It’s clearly a higher level so to still be coming away with a bronze medal shows some really great progress on our part. We’ve exceeded our expectations.

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“To get a bronze at our age group when we’ve only been playing for seven months is fantastic. Neither of us had even heard of pickleball this time last year.”

Over the past year, pickleball has seen a meteoric rise in the UK due to its inclusive and accessible nature, with an estimated 12,000 regular players and over 450 venues offering the sport across the country. The sport involves a paddle and a plastic ball with holes.

Some 700 athletes attended the National Championships at the Bolton Arena – up from 430 at the 2022 event.

And the tennis coach believes his other sporting love should take note of the reasons behind pickleball’s surge in popularity.

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“It’s a very friendly sport, everyone talks to everyone, everyone watches each other, everyone’s happy for everyone else and the organisation is top notch.

“Tennis can learn a lot from how friendly it is and how well run it is.

“It also gives us that competitive edge and we’ve really enjoyed it, it’s taken over our life.

“We’ve improved this weekend through playing people who are better than us and we want to be the best we can be as we’re both really competitive.”

Head to the Pickle Ball England website to find out more.

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