The success of its first national championships has led New Zealand Pickleball to establish a new body to foster the sport in this country.

Rotorua players took out the main prizes at the event, held in Rotorua at the weekend, which attracted 64 competitors.

Already played by more than two million people in North America and Europe, pickleball has grown rapidly since first established in New Zealand three years ago.

With clubs now in Auckland and throughout New Zealand, as far afield as Whangarei, Gore and New Plymouth, the Rotorua-hosted national championships provided an opportunity to move towards formally establishing a national body for the sport.

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The strength of the sport in Rotorua was reflected in local players taking out top prizes at the tournament in closely contested games. Pickleball combines tennis, badminton and table tennis in a sport initially established for 40-plus-year-old players but today caters for all ages.

Rotorua Pickleball's Cathy Jackson said the organisers were thrilled with the turn out for the championships and the "feeling of fun and enjoyment" throughout the weekend.

Rotorua's Ramari Raueti was on the winning teams in the women's and mixed doubles at the National Pickleball Championships. Photo / Ben Fraser
Rotorua's Ramari Raueti was on the winning teams in the women's and mixed doubles at the National Pickleball Championships. Photo / Ben Fraser

Twenty-eight of the 64 players at the event came from Rotorua, with the large number from other centres providing a good mix of players.

"Everybody was able to have at least four or five games in the doubles competitions, so there was a lot of pickleball played, with over 100 matches being played during the weekend."

Jackson said the standard of play was very good and it was great for Rotorua players to have had the opportunity to test their skills against others.

"In the mixed doubles, for example, there were some very competitive pairs and we had some good matches."

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Rotorua players took out the men's and women's doubles and the mixed doubles, so the club was thrilled with the outcome, which she partly put down to the city being the home of the sport since it was introduced here.

Rotorua's Ian Jackson plays a shot during the National Pickleball Championships. Photo / Ben Fraser
Rotorua's Ian Jackson plays a shot during the National Pickleball Championships. Photo / Ben Fraser

After the competition, an official Pickleball New Zealand organisation and committee was established to take the sport to an official level. Rotorua's Sharon Fleet was appointed the inaugural chairperson, with other members including Jeff Parke, Jason Smith, Joy Tawhiao and Bill Woods from the Auckland area and Steve and Jill Norman from Hastings.

New Zealand Pickleball Championships winners
Mixed doubles: Joseph Marsters and Ramari Raureti
Women's doubles: Ramari Raureti and Elaine Hargreaves
Men's doubles: Joseph Marsters and Ian Jackson