Chris Mitchell, a member of the Bexhill Pickleball club has just become World Champion in Florida USA.
Hundreds of professional and amateur players competed in the inaugural World Pickleball Open. Chris won a gold medal in his age category of 60 years and over.
This came just two days after taking bronze in the mixed doubles. Chris had achieved success in tournaments across Europe in 2019 but to win in America, the home of Pickleball without dropping a game, was a remarkable achievement.
Recently featured on BBC South East, Pickleball is said to be the fastest growing sport in this country and is played twice weekly at Bexhill Leisure centre.
What is Pickleball?
Pickleball is a paddle sport which combines elements of Tennis, Badminton and table tennis. It can be played both indoors and outdoors on a badminton sized court with markings very similar to a tennis court. The rules are very similar to tennis however one big difference is that all serves must be underhand.
The paddles which are used are similar to the ones used in table tennis however they have a rectangular shape rather than a circle. The ball is slightly larger than a tennis ball however it is made out of plastic has a large number of holes in the ball to allow the ball to move in a true line when hit.
Pickleball originated in the USA and was invented in 1965 by a US Congressman. 11 years later the first ever official Pickleball tournament was held in Washington DC. In 1984 the paddles where adapted from wooden paddles to composite paddles to allow more bounce when hitting the ball. In 2001 it was even included in the Arizona Senior Olympics.