WESTLOCK – A pair of pickleballers served up silver at the 2021 Alberta Pickleball Provincial Championship.
Dapp’s Michelle Rottier and Wendi Nakonechny, from Westlock, only recently picked up pickleball, a tennis-like sport that has been rising in popularity over the past decade, and decided to take their game to the next level at provincials in Spruce Grove Aug. 5-8.
Rottier entered in the 3.5 bracket, the third-highest challenge bracket. Brackets begin at 2.0 and increase in intervals of 0.5 to 4.5, with 2.0 being new players and 4.5 being professionals.
Rottier and Nakonechny compete in several sports together including volleyball, hockey, softball, and now pickleball.
“We thought it would be fun to enter a tournament together,” said Rottier.
Rottier began playing pickleball in 2017 and has since fallen in love with the sport that has seen rising popularity over the past decade in Canada. The sport was first invented in the United States but made its way to Canada. Pickleball is popular across all age groups thanks to its low learning curve and accessibility.
“I started playing about four years ago, but we had to take a break with COVID because we couldn’t really play together. I really like sports. I really like playing sports like fastball. I just enjoy getting better at sports and playing on a team and pickleball lets you play with two people.”
Rottier says that earlier this year pickleball nationals were held in Red Deer but she was unable to attend.
“I would have gone to nationals but we’re farmers so we were on the combines at the time,” said Rottier.
Meanwhile another local pickleballer Tim Bennett, brought home bronze in the 3.5 men’s doubles bracket at nationals which took place Aug. 10-15. Bennett normally plays as Rottier's partner in mixed doubles, however she was unable to attend the tournament.
With pickleball steadily rising in popularity over the past years, Rottier hopes that more residents will pick up the sport.
“It would be nice for some younger people to be playing pickleball. There’s quite a few people who play … it’s quite fun really,” said Rottier.