You can eat a pickle. You can get stuck in a pickle. Turns out you can also play with one.
You must be thinking:
We get you. Same exact reaction. We’ve since found out that pickleball is a real sport and it has just arrived in Malta. Part-badminton, part-traditional tennis meets table tennis, pickleball is played on a badminton-sized court by 2 or 4 players using solid paddles made of wood or composite materials to hit a perforated polymer ball over a net that’s slightly lower than a tennis net.
Who can play?
Anyone from school-aged children to elderly retirees. As the court is smaller than a tennis court, play is more compact and less strenuous, so you won’t even notice you are exercising!
Some Pickleball Mumbo Jumbo
Each set is played to 11 points, and the winner is the best of 3 sets. Unlike tennis, the serve is underhand, not overhead. However, there is no second chance on the serve like in tennis. If it’s a doubles game, each player gets to serve points until the team loses the point.
The woman behind pickleball in Malta
In August 2018, former local top tennis player Steffi Pace brought Pickleball to Malta. Having participated in numerous European and international tournaments, such as the Federation Cup, and Games of The Small States of Europe, she won various gold and bronze medals along the way. In the last ten years, she completed international tennis coaching courses and has earned a Masters degree in Sport Coaching from the prestigious Loughborough University in the UK.
A brief history of the sport
Although Pickleball started in 1965 in North America, it wasn’t until 2012 that it reached Europe through Spain. Mike Hess, an American who has lived in Spain for many years, was so amazed with the growth of the sport in the US that he founded the Spanish Pickleball Association in 2012. It has since started to spread around Europe, with international tournaments having been hosted in Spain, Finland, the Netherlands, England and Ukraine.
The only Pickleball court in Malta is at Pembroke Rackets Tennis Club, where Steffi is head coach. She is planning to organise local tournaments in the coming months and looks forward to leading a local Pickleball team to represent Malta internationally.