Pickleball players from throughout New Zealand have been invited to Rotorua next month to compete in the country's first open tournament.

Born in the US, pickleball was first introduced to New Zealanders in Rotorua.

A cross between tennis, badminton and table tennis, it is played using paddles
and a plastic ball with holes in it and a net set at about tennis-height.

An estimated 2.5 million people play in the USA. Since being introduced to Rotorua
in 2015 by returning Kiwis Claire Spackman and David McNamara and local Sharon
Fleet, the sport has spread throughout New Zealand with at least 12 clubs now set up.

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Pickleball Rotorua secretary Cathy Jackson said the tournament, on the weekend of
October 6-7, was open to anybody playing the sport in New Zealand.

Rotorua Lakes Council is supporting the tournament and prizes will be available.

Rotorua Pickleball Club member Alan Hooper plays a shot. Photo / Supplied
Rotorua Pickleball Club member Alan Hooper plays a shot. Photo / Supplied

This first tournament will have a specially-fashioned prize dedicated to the memory of Minarapa (Mina) Mitai-Ngatai, one of the older players of the club who died this year.

Mina, who was 84, played pickleball at least twice a week.

Jackson said pickleball was great for older people who had played sports and wanted to stay active, but also attracted younger players who enjoyed the fun, social side of weekly games played on Mondays and Thursdays.

The tournament is timed to give players, friends and families time to also enjoy visiting Rotorua.

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Competition games are expected to extend into the Sunday morning, with friendly games possible afterwards if time allows.

The prizegiving is scheduled for 11.30am on the Sunday, and the inaugural AGM at 12pm.

Those involved will put together a plan to create a formal Pickleball New Zealand sports body to help further grow and develop the sport.

2018 Rotorua Pickleball Open Tournament
When: Saturday October 6 (all day) and Sunday October 7 (to midday)
Where: Rotorua Badminton Hall, 24 Tarewa Pl