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Byron Shire
February 5, 2023

Medal storm for locals at pickleball tournament

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Northern Rivers pickleballers in action at the BISC earlier this year. Photo supplied

Thirty Northern Rivers pickleball players won medals in the first ever NSW regional doubles tournament last weekend in Ballina.

The local club secured nine gold, seven silver and six bronze medals across 16 events ranging in skill levels from 2.5 to Opens and age divisions from Open (18+) to Over 70s.

Outstanding female player, Kim Pickering, won three gold medals, partnering with Roberta O’Brien in the Women’s Open Doubles and in the U/64s (intermediate 3.5 division) as well as with Brian Alston in the Mixed Doubles Under 64s (intermediate 3.5).

Kim also partnered her son, Toby Pickering, in the Mixed Doubles Open Age group and won bronze.

Roberta added a silver medal to her tally with Mark Roberts in the Mixed Doubles (U/64). 

Paul Martinovich and Brian Alston paired up against Ron Gatliff and Vince Lofaro from Noosa to dominate an exciting and tightly-fought three-set game in the Men’s Doubles Open Age (Over 18s).

Paul continued his good form partnering Sydney player, Donna Jay, to win the Mixed Doubles Open Age (Over 18s).

Twenty-one additional Northern Rivers pickleball players, some who had never competed before, came away with medals: including Naomi Doncaster (two golds), Ellen McGirr (gold and silver), Keryn Noach (gold and silver), Grant Anderson (gold and bronze), Marina Schreiber (silver and bronze), Phil Wilk (silver and bronze).  New competitors Bernie Bligh, Steve Prince and Michael Dow each came away with gold medals.

Growing sport

‘The results demonstrate just how far the sport of pickleball has developed in just over two years in the local region.  With regular sessions at the Ballina Indoor Sports Centre on Mondays and Fridays, and now at the Goonellabah Sports and Aquatic Centre on Wednesdays and Saturdays, pickleball has really taking off on the North Coast,’ NRP president Rik Dillon said.

Halliday’s Point, the next most successful club, was well represented with 21 members travelling to Ballina for the weekend.  They took home four gold, four silver and seven bronze medals from the high standard and competitive matches across all the skill levels.

Pickleball combines elements of badminton, tennis, and table tennis.

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