Steve Deakin said the pandemic has affected the way he makes a living, but the sport he plays professionally is still skyrocketing in popularity.
“A lot of pickleball supply companies ran out of stock of things like pickleball nets, and balls and paddles, because people were clearing them out and setting up nets in their driveway,” he said.
“In fact, I feel the pandemic, has made it a bit more popular, because there weren’t too many things that people could do to stay active, while we were in lockdown.”
While Deakin calls Pitt Meadows home, he has been spending a lot of time south of the border.
“The U.S. has opened right up, and are holding events full time now,” he said.
While the local pro was apprehensive about travelling to the United States last summer, playing in tournaments is what he does for a living, so he made the decision to continue to earn money.
“The income I earn in Canada has been clipped by 90 per cent since COVID hit,” he said. Deakin was used to hosting clinics, as well as running training sessions.
“I have to go down to the States to compete and get the exposure. I’m a sponsored player by some companies, so if I don’t play, I don’t get paid.”
There have been no tournaments for the sport in Canada since March of 2020, he added.
Right now, Deakin is back in Pitt Meadows rehabbing an injury to his wrist, but the top-10 ranked doubles player hopes to make it down to the U.S. again next month.
“I’m heading down to San Diego on the 17th, and then I’ll be on a tour down there until the end of September,” he said.
Pickleball Canada National Championships are scheduled to take place in Red Deer in August, but Deakin is not holding his breath.
“I really hope the tournament runs, but if things don’t change, and people don’t get vaccinated, and our government doesn’t allow group sports, I can’t see it happening this summer,” he said.
While the professional side of the sport is stalled nationally, Deakin reiterates the pastime is still gaining popularity.
“Pickleball is a great sport for families to play together,” he said.
“Four generations of families can be on the same court, running around, and having fun.”
Since it is a lot less technical than tennis, Deakin noted a beginner can have immediate success in the sport.
“I can get four beginners on a court, and have them playing, and laughing within five minutes.”
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