No sour faces for pickleball tourney

Southern Slam Pickleball Tournament director Dan Winkel holds a paddle and ball as he prepares...
Southern Slam Pickleball Tournament director Dan Winkel holds a paddle and ball as he prepares for the tournament this weekend. PHOTO: EVELYN THORN
Pickleball’s growing national popularity has been a love-love relationship for Gore’s annual tournament and its organisers.

The growth has allowed for an expansion of the now annual Southern Slam Pickleball Tournament, with two extra days added this year.

The inaugural tournament was held in November last year and featured 16 pairs who travelled from Timaru south to attend the one-day tournament.

Tournament director Dan Winkel hailed it as a success

"It went really well.

"So we decided to do it a little bit differently this time."

It was decided to move the tournament to winter to accommodate the expansion.

Once a spot in the calendar was found, the tournament was organised, he said.

"Right now there’s tournaments all over the place ... They’re starting to get more and more frequent and closer together."

Having such a busy calendar was "good to see".

"We just want to keep growing and growing."

Held at the Gore Multisports Complex, the competition will begin on Friday with the singles competition, continuing on Saturday with the doubles competition and concluding on Sunday with the mixed doubles competition and the finals.

Competitors were set to travel to Gore from Christchurch, Rangiora, Timaru, Dunedin, Queenstown, Wānaka and Invercargill.

"It’s growing all over the country."

This sentiment is echoed in Gore, as weekly pickleball games and trainings are held.

A league night is held weekly on Monday and drop-in sessions on Thursday.

"I like pickleballers.

"They’re such a great group of people," Mr Winkel said.

Attendance at the tournament is free for spectators.