It is a proven fact that Pickleball is less strenuous from other physical activities. Players have to cover a smaller court with little running and lesser strength compared to other racket sports. This is highly advantageous for all age group of people especially women. But its true impact lies in not only being a physical exercise but being a highly social sport where every woman can find a piece of herself to motivate their self confidence.
Thailand Open Pickleball Tournament 2020
It was in the last week of February that True Arena of Hua Hin was lit up with flying spirits, high fives, pats and a unique sound of ‘tuck’. With every Pickleball shot, the Thailand Open proclaimed that Pickleball has really arrived and its popularity is increasing with each passing day.
This year’s Thailand Open Pickleball Tournament had more than 150 participants from across 20 countries. The fear of Corona Virus loomed large on the tournament, still players travelled to play in it. And what was most fascinating was the commendable participation of women players in the tournament.
Hong Kong’s former No 1 Tennis player, Venise Chan played her first Pickleball event in Hua Hin. The 30-year started playing Pickleball just four months back when she was introduced to Pickleball by her university Tennis coach. Her Tennis experience helped her to pick up the sport easily and that transmitted in her game at Hua Hin.
In her social media account, Venise wrote, “Today I did something crazy. I challenged the international Pickleball Men’s Singles Open……….. It was challenging both physically and mentally but I’m glad I get to prove to be of similar level with them! Just reminds me that in life, never underestimate your opponent and never think less of yourself.” Venise won gold in women’s singles, silver in the women’s doubles and to everyone’s surprise challenged men players in their singles category and even won one match.
Indian Pickleball player Kasturi Vighne was at Hua Hin to play in the Thailand Open 2020 where she found that women players from the West are generally 50+ but they do not feel the pressure of playing alongside much younger players.
50+ women are the real inspirations
As Pickleball’s distinctive feature is that a player need not be the world’s most gifted athlete to play it, therefore it has helped women of all age, shape and athletic ability to pursue this sport. Coupled with this is the optimistic attitude of those women that acts as the greatest asset while playing the sport.
Alison Fulton formerly played Badminton and was an acclaimed player in Scotland. After retiring from competitive Badminton, she relaxed for some days. But soon Fulton found out Pickleball as a way to lead her retired life. It was Pickleball through which she remained involved in sport but at the same time did not have to bother much about stressful games and torn muscles, tendons or joints.
Alison Fulton is now 60 and often participates in competitive Pickleball tournaments. She is a real treat to watch on courts as her skill and control are unparalleled. Fulton has definitely inspired many players of her age and also younger and older, of whom Elaine Shallcross is one.
“Alison was an ex-international Badminton player for Scotland. I had also played Badminton at quite a high level, so the conversation was all about Badminton. I asked if she still played and she told me ‘not any more but I play this other great game now Pickleball when in the USA’. I couldn’t believe that I had worked for so many years in the sports field but had never heard of Pickleball,” Elaine Shallcross revealed about her introduction to Pickleball.
It was her start and now Elaine Shallcross is Pickleball England Regional Director and also a World Ambassador for Pickleball. She promotes and tries to grow the sport of Pickleball wherever she travels. Elaine recently had surgery for breast cancer and is undergoing some extensive rounds of chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments. But neither her health nor her age has posed any hindrance to her Pickleball dreams.
Elaine Shallcross and Alison Fulton have played a major part in organising Thailand Open for the last couple of years. Shallcross spends time in both England and Thailand to play Pickleball and also to coach players of all ages. She has really motivated a lot of other players to play the sport with ease and brush their shoulders with much younger girls.
Teresa Thornton was the treasurer of Thailand Open who played in the 19+ women’s doubles category. Pickleball, to this 60-year old lady, gives lots of energy and fun that are some of the key elements for socialising. “Just go out there and have fun with your friends as it’s a great game,” Teresa conveyed this to all 50+ ladies.
Pickleball court being small, increases the camaraderie among players. Though competitive enough, Pickleball provides much space to players to talk, crack jokes or just share thoughts about life and sport.
In India, there has been a tremendous growth of Pickleball and what is most laudable is that women, ranging from young girls, office goers as well as housewives are playing this sport. The housewives are definitely a bit shy in the beginning, but once they start playing Pickleball they find another comfort zone away from their own home comfort.
But they still hesitate a bit to play against or alongside young girls as they have in their mind that they lag behind them in strength and energy. But to all of them, who are uncertain whether they can match the ability of younger players, here is a message from Erika Goodman –I started playing Pickleball when I was 50 years old and now I am 53. The younger you are, stronger and faster you are. But normally the older you are, you think. So as Pickleball is a strategic game, its an advantage for players like me who think a little more than the younger lot.”
Elsabie De Beer is almost 63 years now and she dared to partner an 80-year old in mixed doubles in Thailand Open. She feels that if older people can capture the speed with their strategy then it is very easy to be a winner. Both Erika and Elsabie think that every woman should make a favour to their future by playing Pickleball. They had some golden words for all ladies, “Live longer, live stronger and live golder.”