In an emerging sport, five players from Noida were representing Uttar Pradesh for the 7th National Pickleball Championship held in Telangana on 24-26 June 2022. Making their family and city proud, Team Uttar Pradesh has won two bronze medals right in its first-time entry.
Pradeep Saxena, 65, President, UP State Pickleball Association (UPSPA) from Noida won the Bronze Medal in the National Tournament in the 60+ Men's Doubles category, playing alongside Dr Rajeev Sood who also won a bronze medal in the 60+ Singles category.
Along with the winners, the other participants of the squad participated enthusiastically and learned a lot during the tournament. The team from Uttar Pradesh State was made up of players in all formats and age categories such as U-14, U-19, open category, 40+ and 60+.
Pradeep Saxena, a resident of Prateek Laurel society, and President of UP State Pickleball Association (UPSPA), says, "Our team participated in the championship under different categories. Uttar Pradesh State Pickleball Association and the team not only got the opportunity to participate but bagged two bronze Medals in the 60+ category. This is a great achievement in our maiden attempt, thus building a foundation of a bright future for this sport in Uttar Pradesh."
Saxena says that Pickleball is a US-based and fastest-growing sport in the world today. He continues, "The credit for this goes to Sunil Valavalker who brought the game to India in 2006. He is the founder and president of the All Indian Pickleball Association. With his dedication, it has spread its wings in 16 states and progressing fast. The UP team started under his guidance in 2021, a versatile game that can be played in the age group 8-80 years."
During the tournament, the team’s General Secretary – Aman Grover from Noida had the good fortune of meeting and discussing the future of Pickleball in India with the likes of Ravula Sridhar Reddy, Chairman - of Telangana State Education & Welfare Infrastructure Development Corporation who has been instrumental in promoting the game.
While talking about his experience of the national tournament. Aman says, "Right from team selection, until the gameplay, my focus has been towards winning for our State of Uttar Pradesh. We even took 2 young players from Lucknow to play alongside and they came back with a lot of learning. I am myself a TT player and have been enjoying this new sport, for the last couple of months. We aim to build an army of 200+ players this year from UP."
He further informed us that they are planning for boot camps, coachings and tournaments within the State and are also collaborating with Delhi / Gurgaon for well-coordinated gameplay.
As gathered, their team now looks forward to taking Uttar Pradesh Pickleball to even greater heights in near future. With the motto of Fitness First, Team Uttar Pradesh is aiming to build an army of players in the age group of 10 to 80 years and looks forward to taking on other championships.