Husband-and-wife pickleball team Keith and Lynne Miller from Stockport, England, admitted to having the surprise of their lives after they beat all-comers to snag the title of Over-65 National Mixed Doubles Champions at the 2023 English Nationals in Bolton at their first attempt last week.
The Millers, who split their playing time between Stockport and the picturesque North Wales island of Anglesey, had zero expectation of any success when they arrived at the Bolton Area. Indeed, they only found out they had won when they heard it from somebody else!
Keith spoke to James Read of Largs And Millport Daily News and revealed their low expectations: “We just thought we would come and enjoy it. We thought we would be home by 12pm because we would have been beaten.
“We didn’t know it was the final. It was only when we won it that they told us that we won the gold. I think the lack of pressure definitely helped.”
Lynne added, “This is our debut – not bad, is it? We are a bit shocked, we can’t believe it. We didn’t expect to win at all.”
A Meteoric Rise
In common with the U.S. and, indeed, the rest of the world, pickleball has seen a meteoric rise in the UK, especially in the last year. Estimates of 12,000 regular players and more than 450 venues stand as a testament to the boom the sport is enjoying at the moment.
Competitor numbers at the National Championship also back this trend, with 682 participating this year in comparison to 430 at last year’s event.
The Millers are simply yet another example of the droves of pickleball converts the sport has witnessed over the last couple of years.
Keith expanded a little on the background of their participation in the tournament: “We play a little bit in Stockport, but we go to Anglesey a lot, and we got involved with a club there. They have been so good, and that is how we have improved.
“There’s great camaraderie, you meet some lovely people, and it’s such a fun sport.”
Most pickleballers turn to the sport when they can no longer keep up with more high-impact racket sports such as tennis or squash. However, the Millers were proponents of padel, a sport similar to pickleball but still relatively unknown in the U.K., although it is popular in countries such as Spain.
“We Are Completely Addicted”
In fact, that is where Keith and Lynne first experienced the sport when they returned to the U.K. after living abroad for a while.
As Lynne explains, “We played padel in Spain, but when Brexit and Covid came, we started to play this, and we love it. We are completely addicted!”
The 2023 English Nationals took place at Bolton Arena from Thursday, October 26th to Sunday, October 29th. This year’s English Nationals were sponsored by Skechers, Franklin, Scan and UK Pickleball Shop,
Go to pickleballengland.org to find out more or to find the nearest place to play in the U.K.
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