The Edgbaston Priory Club – Paving the way for the introduction of Pickleball to Tennis Clubs in the UK
On Saturday 15th August 2020 I was lucky enough to be invited to The Edgbaston Priory Club in Birmingham to help out with a pickleball taster day they were hosting. Having worked as the event assistant for the Aegon Classic, WTA International grass court tennis event that was held at the club in 2016, I have a long standing friendship with the incredible team of Groundstaff there. In July I received a message from Dave Lawrence, Grounds Manager, saying he’d seen some pickleball videos I’d posted on Facebook and the club were looking for new ideas and initiatives to introduce and he thought pickleball would be perfect for their members.
Arriving at the club, it was inspiring to see the different ways Dave, his wife Sue, son John and groundsman Steven had created pickleball courts for their members. It showed their forward thinking and proved just how easy it is to create pickleball courts with whatever space a club has.
When lockdown restrictions started to ease in July, Dave bought some basic paddles and balls from Amazon and his team marked out a pickleball court on tarmacadam in an unused area of the car park, a trial court to see if members would be interested in the game. A mini tennis net makes the perfect pickleball net so they added this to their trial court and were ready to play. The Groundstaff were immediately hooked and members, seeing them play, soon started to want to have a go themselves. Due to the popularity and interest from members, the club then agreed to tape four pickleball courts on one of their indoor acrylic tennis courts. They didn’t stop there! An additional two outdoor pickleball courts were painted on another area of outside tarmacadam as well as two more marked out on an outdoor tennis court.
Everyone who attended the taster day, organised by the EPC team of Julie, Abbey, Leyla, Rob and Dave, quickly learnt the rules of pickleball and became engrossed in competitive, fun games. They all left the day asking when they could play again, how they could book pickleball courts and what pickleball events would be happening in the future. Five members even bought brand new paddles from the UK’s leading pickleball brand Dropshot. A great day was had by all!
It would be great to see other tennis clubs in the UK following The Edgbaston Priory Club’s lead and finding ways to introduce pickleball to their members. Watch this space for some new pickleball champions coming out of Edgbaston in the future!
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