“Pickleball brings a positive outlook to life. It refreshes the mind, relieves any stress or pent up emotions and helps in developing a positive and fresh outlook everytime I play……”
DOB: 10th July 1955
Place of Birth: Manchester England
Residence: Longridge Lancashire
First Club: Hua Hin International Pickleball Club, Thailand
Pickleball has become a huge part of her life over the last 5 years. It was a coffee morning and Elaine Shallcross was lucky enough to meet a lady at Hua Hin in Thailand who let her know about Pickleball.
“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.”
As a junior, Elaine Shallcross was involved in competitive Swimming and then she moved into Badminton and Netball. She played both sports at school, district and regional level. After leaving school, she continued with these sports and also started long-distance Swimming. Along with that she loved to play Cricket. But Pickleball was unheard to her. So when Alison promised to bring in Pickleball paddles on her next annual visit to Thailand, Elaine eagerly waited for a whole year to get a chance to play Pickleball.
As promised Alison brought in Pickleball paddles and offered the sport to Elaine. And she loved it from the very first hit and that is how the Pickleball journey of Elaine Shallcross started.
“I was looking to be a bit more active. I was retired and had time to spare. I had always been sporty and missed the exercise, the camaraderie of being in a sports setting, the fun, the banter, the belonging to a team etc. So starting a Pickleball group, which latterly grew into a club, was an ideal investment for me and my time.”
Elaine brought the sport to the North West of England where she took numerous Pickleball sessions and established many clubs. She prefers to stay positive about all the clubs in her region as the development of each and every club in her region contributes to the overall progress of the region.
“For me, apart from the usual heath benefits of being physically active, Pickleball is a challenge of constant change. I have always believe that spending energy makes more energy that rejuvenates you. It keeps you young out there on the courts, having fun, making new friends … and simply having a great time. I have been fortunate enough to play in a few countries and this has brought me friendship from around the world.”
Elaine Shallcross spends time in two countries- England and Thailand that are located in two different continents. She plays Pickleball and coaches people in both the continents but has found no difference in the way the sport is received.
“There is such vibrancy around Pickleball wherever I play. There is certainly a difference in the atmosphere at tournaments though, but its fun and adds to the experience. In Asia some players get a bit more vocal on court and there is a lot of cheering and chanting from the crowd. I think the Europeans and North Americans are a bit more conservative, and that takes a bit of getting used to; but it is great fun to experience all.”
And she laments missing this fun in the upcoming Indian Open to be held at Jaipur. She wanted to visit Rajasthan and explore the beauty of the region apart from playing Pickleball. But some serious health issue stopped her from travelling.
“Pickleball is a great opportunity to learn about other countries and cultures as one travels. Pickleball can be a great educator outside the game itself. I recently had surgery for breast cancer. The surgical part has gone well and I am recovering from that. I will shortly go through some extensive rounds of chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment, which will take me until around the end of June 2020. It has unfortunately prevented me coming to Rajasthan for the Indian Open. But since my diagnosis, Pickleball has been a very welcome distraction. The messages and cards that I have received from players around the world has been an enormous support and comfort to me, at a time when I needed it most.”
Recovering quickly, Elaine wants to get back to work. She is Pickleball England Regional Director and most importantly a World Ambassador for Pickleball. She wants to lead by example, upholding a strong sense of fun, fairness, good sportsmanship and encouragement.
“Certainly my main responsibility as a world ambassador is to promote and grow the sport of Pickleball, where ever I travel. I am very heavily involved in teaching and coaching and I just want to become the very best coach I can be. I am a coach who is always learning and trying to put into practice new ideas and thinking. I am also very interested in Sports Coach Education, the skills that underpin a coaches knowledge, that help them connect with their student, understand their individual needs and help them thrive and progress. I already arrange,classes and workshop to introduce Pickleball to beginners and to more intermediate players to improve their skills and abilities. I organise tournaments and pickleball festivals in the UK and Asia, and I am very keen to see the competetive side of the game to grow alongside the social recreational opportunities. Wherever I go I am looking to sniff out new opportunities for Pickleball, however unlikely, and I am a huge believer in good partnership while working. When I travel, my paddle and a couple of spares always go into my bag, in the hope that we can start something off somewhere new, and I encourage other to do the same.”
Pickleball, to Elaine Shallcross, is certainly for friendship and support. Anyone who is brave enough to step on court to try a game will get a warm welcome. But she is really concerned about the little infrastructure in place in many countries where Pickleball is played.
“The game has captured the imagination; from a basic introduction, people can very quickly start playing and achieving. It is very satisfying to be able to learn so quickly and simply. It soon becomes addictive and the word Pickleball soon starts to spread. But to service the huge demand, all aspects of Pickleball are now under scrutiny. With national governing bodies, international associations, coaching qualifications, tournament rules, tournament programmes- it is all evolving. We are a long way behind other established sports but certainly heading in the right direction. One thing that is of concern is the rivalry between some organisations. In the long term interests of the sport, it would be better if everyone pulls together in the same direction.”
So Elaine is always hopeful about the growth of the sport and finds this time as an exciting one for the evolution of Pickleball.
“Oh! Without a doubt, Pickleball is now being recognised on its own merits. The growth will continue and gain further recognition as more structure is added and more resources become available. So many people are now being captured by what Pickleball has to offer them. I think there are a whole host of new opportunities arising via the growth of the game like mass participation, new club establishment, professional players, a pro circuit, new tournaments, venues, clinics, Pickleball tourism, new equipment and apparel manufacturers. It may well have taken its time to get off the ground but I do believe Pickleball will skyrocket over the next 3 years.”