Hundreds of pickleball players flooded the Pitt Meadows Athletic Park courts last weekend as the Golden Ears Pickleball Club held its inaugural summer tournament.
Club president Chris Ellis said that the turnout for the tournament far exceeded his wildest dreams, with even the amount of local sponsors interested in supporting the tournament surpassing his expectations.
“My goal was 150 people and we signed up 175,” said Ellis. “We sold out all of our courts and still had people and businesses coming to us and asking to give us money.”
The success of this inaugural tournament will help the Golden Ears Pickleball Club continue to offer their record-low membership fees, explained Ellis.
“Just from registrations alone, we raised $14,000,” he said. “The money from this will go to paying for fall and winter memberships. I really wanted to make this tournament come to fruition because I don’t want to raise our fees. We have the lowest fees around at only $15 a year.”
But Ellis is aware that maintaining such low fees is not sustainable in the long-term even with the help of the fees from the summer tournament.
“We are going to have to raise our fees eventually, it’s inevitable. So we are looking at an increase, but we’re also looking at discounts. We want to give seniors, first responders, and veterans a discount. We want to offer some discounts and keep it competitive with other clubs.”
Even right now, there are discounts to be had with a membership to the Golden Ears Pickleball Club. According to Ellis, the club has a system set up with several local businesses where club members can get a discount of up to 20 per cent.
In addition to helping raise funds and keep membership fees low, Ellis said the inaugural tournament was also created as a way to help honour the accomplishments of professional pickleball player and Pitt Meadows resident Steve Deakin.
On the first day of the tournament, Deakin was given a formal ceremony where he was presented with a lifetime membership to the Golden Ears Pickleball Club.
Deakin then entertained the crowd on Sunday with a thrilling exhibition game that included several other professional and up-and-coming pickleball players.
First, second, and third-place medals were also awarded across the various skill levels for women’s doubles, men’s doubles, and mixed doubles events.
Ellis is thrilled with the success of the event, but is already thinking about how to improve next year’s tournament. He is even considering the idea of adding a single’s category next year and extending the tournament to a three-day event.
More information about the Golden Ears Pickleball Club is available at www.goldenearspickleballclub.ca.
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