International Kamloops Open pickleball tournament sees record number of players

Players flock to tournament

A record number of pickleball players made their way to the courts at Riverside Park this weekend for the 2024 International Kamloops Open pickleball tournament.

Both professional and amateur players flocked to the Tournament Capital from across the province. Some came from as far as Ontario and the United States.

Christine Banford, tournament co-director, said this year’s tournament saw more than 360 players attend, the "highest number so far."

"We’ve been doing this for 10 years, and 364 is the most. Last year we had 324, so every year we keep growing,” Banford said.

The tournament directors said the Kamloops Pickleball Club has around 600 members and a similar number of drop-in players.

They said the tournament’s growth in size highlights the need for more spaces to accommodate the number of players seeking a court.

“We're kind of limited by the size, by the number of courts that we have. We're really, really needing a larger facility and an indoor facility to accommodate the exponential growth,” said Wilma Steinke, tournament co-director.

“I know the city's working hard to try to make that happen, but it never comes fast enough for those of us that have to wait to play.”

The co-directors credited the popularity of the growing sport to its accessibility to new players and the comaraderie between players.

“Pickleball is such a social sport, but then you can also get that competitive side going and it's just a great mix,” Steinke said.

“That's why it's growing so fast, and a lot of cities can't keep up with the demand.”

The tournament directors said players from the Canadian National Pickleball League and the Professional Pickleball Association attended the event.

The tournament include 45 events categorized by five ability and three age categories. Players ranged in age from 14 to 79 years old.

The tournament ran from Friday to Sunday with games running from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day.

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