Nearly 60 years on from its invention back in 1965 on Bainbridge Island, WA, pickleball is one of the fastest-growing sports in Europe and boasts a thriving community in Cumbria in the northwest of England.
Eden Valley Pickleball
Richard Wise runs Eden Valley Pickleball and organizes approximately 80 hours of pickleball a week for the club’s 150 members. He claims Eden Valley is one of the busiest clubs in the country.
“I don’t think there will be a more active club in the UK, but it is growing all the time. It would not surprise me if we were one of the busiest clubs in the country.”Richard Wise, Eden Valley Pickleball
Since the creation of the club in 2017, Richard has seen the local pickleball community grow and grow.
“I am phenomenally proud. In recent years it has become much more about nurturing this amazing group of growing players. We have got players of all ages, from about 13 years old to about 80-odd. We have got players with Parkinson’s and are pretty much the only wheelchair group in the country which is utterly amazing.”Richard Wise, Eden Valley Pickleball
For Richard, pickleball success is a family affair: daughter Maisie is one of the top female players in the country. Indeed, Eden Valley dominated the recent Scottish Open, winning five out of the available six medals, with Richard’s daughter Maisie capturing gold!
“She is an export from Cumbria if you like, and she is doing incredibly well,” gushed her proud dad.
Gold At The English Open
Richard is no slouch on the court either, winning gold at the English Open in Southampton last year in over 50s mixed doubles. However, he wasn’t satisfied with that, taking first prize again under the baking Spanish sun at the International Open.
Last year, club member Luke Whitfield won the national under-25s tournament in Milton Keynes with a “spectacular” performance. Maisie placed as the second-highest woman in the same event, also taking gold in the over-19s championship in Southampton.
Maisie and Trevor Robinson from nearby Carlisle won silver at the national team championships in Cambridge.
The Cumbrian Pickleball Scene
As pickleball hubs go, Cumbria is a rather curious one due to its relatively remote location (in terms of UK distances, anyway!). Eden Valley Pickleball has well over 100 members, and the county also has thriving clubs in Kendal, Barrow, and Workington.
Its amazing popularity is evident in the way tickets have sold out for the regional North West Pickleball Festival. It took two hours in 2021 and, incredibly, just 30 minutes last year!
Richard is the driving force behind its success and has recently lent his support to other groups that have sprung up in nearby towns, with more areas set to follow suit shortly.
The way that pickleball is also sweeping across the United Kingdom is also featured in these articles.
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