Some of the best pickleball players in Canada will show off their skills this summer in Red Deer.
On Friday, the Red Deer Pickleball Club said the Pickleball Canada National Championship 2021 will be held in Red Deer at the Motorworks Field pickleball courts in the north end of town.
Red Deer was originally selected as the host for the event last summer, which will now take place from Aug. 10-15.
The club, along with Pickleball Canada had some concern over the past several months about whether they would be able to host the event in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even in May, the club was skeptical that they could move forward but when the province released its Open for Summer plan late last month, the atmosphere around hosting the tournament changed.
“We are very excited to see restrictions lifted, and the enthusiasm for pickleball is lining up to be a tremendous turnout,” said tournament chair Dick Feser.
“Barring any changes from (Alberta Health Services), we will be wide open and enjoy a top-notch event.”
Red Deer is one of the few places in Canada that has 20 fully dedicated pickleball courts, all in one place. The courts opened in June 2019, on the northeast side of town, and the club noted that’s one major reason why they were selected as the host of the national event.
Overall, 904 competitors are registered for the event and 48 on the waitlist. Eighty players from the Red Deer club will also play in the event.
More than 500 of the players are from Alberta, 133 from B.C., 83 from Saskatchewan and Manitoba, 74 from Ontario and 34 from Quebec.
“This is by far the largest Red Deer or Alberta has hosted for a Pickles tournament,” said tournament director Gene Vollmin.
The youngest competitor registered is 14 years old and there is a 13-year-old player on the waitlist for the Junior Double (10-16) Category. The oldest player registered is 81.
The majority of players are in what is often referred to as “masters” age categories, in the 50-60 age range.
The tournament will showcase Doubles, Mixed Doubles, and Singles Pickleball events in a wide range of skill and age divisions. There will be a para pickleball demonstration.
Clinics will also be held by professional pickleball players for those interested throughout the event, starting on Aug. 10.
Spectators are welcome to attend the tournament and watch the action free of charge.