Even smoke can’t keep seniors from competing in West Kelowna pickleball tournament

Click to play video: 'Despite smoky conditions, hundreds of seniors compete at pickleball tournament in West Kelowna'
Despite smoky conditions, hundreds of seniors compete at pickleball tournament in West Kelowna
WATCH ABOVE: The first Super Senior Pickleball Tournament, hosted by the West Kelowna Pickleball Club, takes place August 23 to 26 at Mount Boucherie Racquet Centre with 300 seniors, 60 years old and over, competing – Aug 24, 2018

At this time last year, West Kelowna did not have a pickleball club.

Fast forward several month later, and about 300 members of the new West Kelowna Pickleball Club are competing in the first Super Seniors Tournament, August 23 to 26.

Seniors over 60 years of age from all over British Columbia, as well as some out-of-province and out-of-country players, are gathering in West Kelowna for the three-day event.

Men’s doubles takes place on Thursday, women’s doubles are hosted on Friday, and mixed doubles finishes off the tournament on Saturday.

There are two age divisions for the tournament: 60 to 64 years old and 65 plus.

Sue McVeigh is a court host for the West Kelowna Pickleball Club. She hurt her shoulder playing tennis and needed a new sport to help keep her in shape and socially active. Pickleball was her answer.

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“You’re always meeting new people and everybody just loves it so much,” McVeigh said. “It’s a happy sport.”

Louis Lalonde is a competitor at the tournament. He says he plays pickelball for the extended family he’s adopted since starting the sport.

“I actually gained a son-in-law. I started playing and introduced my daughter to the game,” Lalonde said. “And she met her husband by playing pickleball so truly, for me, it is an extended family that I got out of it.”

Hank Bryce is the vice president of the West Kelowna Pickleball Club and he encourages anyone interested to try it out.

“People don’t have to have partners. They come in and show up and it’s a drop-in,” Bryce said. “You rotate, you play with different people. You will always hear people laughing when they play pickleball and, of course, it’s great fitness.”

The smoke blanketing the Okanagan was a concern to the club with discussions taking place about whether the event should be cancelled.

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“But we saw that there were still people that came out when it was 10+ air quality and they were still playing,” Bryce said. “A lot of people travelled from a long way away and, if they want to play, we want to make it possible for them.”

For those interested in trying the sport, the West Kelowna Pickleball Club has free weekly drop-in sessions on Wednesday. Visitors will be provided with paddles, taught the game and invited to join in the fun.



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