Professional Pickleball Takes Canada by Storm: A New Era for the Game

Professional pickleball is making its way to Canada, and the excitement is palpable. With the announcement of the inaugural pro tour hosted by the Canadian Pickleball Association, players are reconsidering their day jobs and setting their sights on a career in this rapidly growing sport. The tour, set to take place at the Hisports Pickleball grounds in Oshawa, promises sizable prize money and aims to establish itself as the equivalent of the successful PPA Tour in the United States.

The rise of pickleball in Canada can be attributed to its accessibility and ease of play. When COVID-19 restrictions prevented large social gatherings in 2020, many individuals, like Christina Chin from Richmond Hill, turned to pickleball as a way to satisfy their sports cravings.

Unlike hockey, which requires a minimum of 10 players, a rink, and expensive equipment, pickleball only requires a paddle, a ball, and one other person to play. Chin quickly fell in love with the game, finding it easy to learn and accessible to anyone with coordination.

“This game is just so easy to go out and play,” Chin explains. “And it’s also not tiring. The past three days I played 30 pickleball matches, but in hockey, I can’t play more than six games in that span, and even then I’d be dead.”

Many elite players see the potential for pickleball to become a lucrative career. With sponsors and endorsements pouring in, along with the possibility of more competitive opportunities, the winner of the pro tour in Oshawa stands to take home a substantial $15,000 prize.

“Honestly, pickleball can beat my salary if I do well in it,” Chin reveals. As a self-proclaimed “pickleball influencer” on social media, Chin has witnessed the game’s growth firsthand. “It’s really grown in the past few years, with so many new people joining, so many clinics happening, people learning and telling their friends about it.”

Ernesto Fajardo, another pro player from Montreal, shares Chin’s enthusiasm for the sport. Fajardo, who started playing pickleball in 2016 after years of tennis, quickly became hooked. He now teaches the game across Quebec and Ontario while competing whenever he gets the opportunity. Fajardo believes that the pro tour will bring more visibility to pickleball and showcase the sport’s professional level.

“I feel like most people know that pickleball is a game that is easy to learn but hard to master,” Fajardo explains. “I think this tour will bring more visibility and show people how this sport can be played at a professional level.”

The Canadian Pickleball Association’s pro tour aims to provide greater exposure for the sport. In addition to the professional competitions, there will be regular amateur tournaments in various formats, including men’s and women’s doubles, mixed doubles, and singles.

Social events and clinics for all ages and skill levels will also be part of the tour, ensuring that pickleball remains accessible to everyone.

After the Oshawa stop, the CPA Pro Tour plans to continue its journey with stops and competitions in Montreal, Calgary, and Vancouver through 2025. The goal is to identify talent and provide a launching pad for Canadians to pursue a career in pickleball.

“Anybody can play pickleball, really, from seven to 97,” says pickleball coach and CPA Pro Tour CEO Alex Stojkov. The tour aims to make pickleball a national event and help players showcase their talents on a wider global stage.

With the arrival of the professional pickleball tour in Canada, the game is set to reach new heights. As players like Christina Chin and Ernesto Fajardo dedicate themselves to the sport, the future looks bright for pickleball in the Great White North. So grab your paddle, find a partner, and join in on the excitement of this thrilling and rapidly growing sport.

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Written by Billy Pickles

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