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  • UK Universities Host Inaugural Pickleball Varsity Match | Are Pickleball Paddles Getting Too Powerful? | Launch of the Canadian Pickleball Association 2024 Pro Tour

UK Universities Host Inaugural Pickleball Varsity Match | Are Pickleball Paddles Getting Too Powerful? | Launch of the Canadian Pickleball Association 2024 Pro Tour

20% off everything in the Pickleball Addiction store | Mastering the Backhand Dink with Ben John’s | Upcoming UK Pickleball Events and Festivals

UK Universities Host Inaugural Pickleball Varsity Match

In a landmark event, students from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) and Newcastle University participated in the UK's first-ever varsity pickleball match, marking a significant milestone in university sports. The historic match featured participants from both institutions in a spirited competition.

Establishment of UCLan Pickleball Club

The UCLan Pickleball Club was founded in June 2023 by Ewan Fagan, a student who has been instrumental in promoting pickleball on campus. Since its inception, the club has attracted over 100 participants, with activities organised three times a week.

Fagan expressed his enthusiasm for the sport's growth, noting the club's ongoing efforts to engage students, "We've hosted several tournaments for our members, though I was keen on competing against other universities. Until now, we were waiting for more university clubs to form."

Collaboration Leads to Historic Match

The idea for the varsity match took shape when Fagan met Sam Basford at an IPTPA coaching course and subsequently connected with Riah Harris from Newcastle University. Together with Aleks Frost, Harris had been pivotal in establishing Newcastle's pickleball club.

Originally planned to be held in Preston, the venue shifted to Newcastle due to logistical challenges. Despite it being exam season, UCLan managed to send five players to compete. The event, organised by Frost and Harris, adopted a festival-style format where sixteen participants played a series of games over three hours.

Competition Results and Unique Awards

Ewan Fagan emerged victorious, leading the individual rankings as the undefeated champion, with Riah Harris and Adam Biggin from Newcastle completing the top three.

Although Newcastle University clinched the overall team score, Fagan noted the scoring system might need revising to enhance fairness in future matches.

The event also included lighthearted awards such as the "Oldest Player," who received a tin of beans, and the "Doughnut of the Day," awarded a packet of quavers. These humorous prizes highlighted the fun and camaraderie typical of university sports.

Reflecting on the Event's Success

As his approaches graduation, Fagan expressed gratitude towards Harris, Frost, and the Newcastle team for their efforts in organising the match, as well as the UCLan players who traveled for the competition.

Looking forward, Fagan is optimistic about the future of university pickleball. This inaugural varsity pickleball match not only sets a precedent for future university-level competitions but also celebrates the expanding community of pickleball players across the UK.

Follow Newcastle Univerity Pickleball Club on Instagram
Learn more about Newcastle University Pickleball Club here.

Follow UCLan Pickleball Club on Instagram
Learn more about UCLan Pickleball Club here.

Are Pickleball Paddles Getting Too Powerful?

Source: Pickleball England

In recent developments within the pickleball community, the increased use of foam in paddle cores has sparked significant debate. Manufacturers have integrated additional foam around the edges and throughout the cores of these paddles, enhancing stability and enlarging the sweet spot.

This new construction technique has been embraced not only by professional players but also by consumers, raising concerns about its impact on the game.

Enhanced Performance Raises Concerns

The inclusion of foam throughout the paddle core generates a "trampoline effect," substantially boosting the power of each hit. This enhancement can lead to paddles gaining power over the course of a single game, even if they initially meet standard inspection criteria.

Critics argue that these modifications not only transform the traditional gameplay of pickleball but also accelerate the ball speed to potentially dangerous levels.

Regulatory Challenges

Despite the transformative capabilities of these paddles, they have successfully passed the testing standards set by both USA Pickleball and the PPA Tour.

However, the pickleball community, including both amateur and professional players, remains skeptical. Reports indicate that the power of the paddles may have increased by up to 50%, prompting widespread concern across various skill levels.

The advancement in paddle technology seems to have outpaced current regulations. Prominent figures in the sport, such as Ben Johns, have advocated for the introduction of an exit velocity test to establish a definitive power limit for paddles.

This suggestion highlights the challenges regulators face in adapting to rapid technological changes within the sport.

The Irreversible Path Forward

Once these powerful paddles have been approved and introduced to the market, reversing their acceptance poses significant logistical and financial challenges.

As the paddles continue to circulate among players, any retroactive changes to their legality could have profound economic impacts on manufacturers and players alike.

As the sport of pickleball continues to evolve, the ongoing discussion about paddle power and safety underscores the need for a balance between innovation and tradition, ensuring the game remains enjoyable and safe for everyone involved.

Watch the latest PicklePod episode where they discuss this issue in detail here.

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Coaching Corner

Mastering the Backhand Dink with Ben John’s

Following on from last weeks coaching corner in which we covered the backhand dink, I thought I’d also share this short video that came out from The Pickleball Clinic in the last few days featuring Ben Johns who gives a couple of very simple tips.

The Importance of Wrist Position

The wrist plays a pivotal role in executing a successful backhand dink. To maintain control and timing, it’s vital to avoid flicking the wrist during the shot.

This common mistake can lead to a loss of control, making it harder to place the ball accurately. Instead, the wrist should be kept stable and locked, ensuring that it does not move excessively as you hit the ball.

Correct Wrist Angling

Proper wrist angling is another critical factor. A neutral wrist position, where the wrist isn’t tilted up or down, is often inadequate for effective backhand dinks.

Instead, adopting a 'cocked' wrist position, where the wrist is tilted upwards slightly, is beneficial. This positioning helps keep the paddle face open, allowing for better under-the-ball contact and a favorable trajectory.

Execution and Strategy

When striking the ball, ensure your wrist is cocked and stable. This helps you to get around the outside of the ball and underneath it, optimising the angle and placement of your dink.

This technique minimises erratic movements and enhances your ability to guide the ball precisely across the net into the opponent's court.

By focusing on a firm, properly angled wrist, you can significantly improve your backhand dink, making it a powerful tool in your game.

Launch of the Canadian Pickleball Association 2024 Pro Tour

The Canadian Pickleball Association (CPA) is set to introduce a professional pickleball tour in Canada starting in 2024. This announcement marks a significant development in the sport's presence within the country.

Overview of the CPA Pro Tour

The CPA Pro Tour will feature 24 professional players who will enter into exclusive contracts with the tour. The competition format will be a double elimination tournament, likely including singles, gender-specific doubles, and mixed doubles categories. Throughout 2024, there will be four events, each offering a prize pool of $15,000.

Initial Professional Signings

The CPA has confirmed the first group of professionals to sign with the tour. These athletes include Ernesto Fuardo, Kim Layton, Brad Chapman, and Haddow Thul, all of whom will compete in the upcoming events.

Amateur Events at CPA Tour Stops

Each stop on the CPA Pro Tour will also host amateur competitions, a common practice seen in similar tours in the United States like the PPA and APP events.

These amateur matches will feature singles, gender doubles, and mixed doubles across four age categories: 19+, 35+, 50+, and 60+. The inclusion of amateur players is expected to enhance the revenue of the events, attract more spectators, and contribute to a festival-like atmosphere at each location.

Sponsorship and Support

For its inaugural year, the CPA Pro Tour has secured sponsorship from several notable companies, including Tim Horton's, Joola, Head, TSS Pickleball, Hisports, and Heali. These partnerships are crucial for the financial backing and overall success of the tour.

With these plans in place, the CPA is poised to elevate the profile of pickleball in Canada, providing both professional and amateur players with valuable opportunities to compete and develop in the sport.

Upcoming Tournaments & Festivals


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