Pickleball Magazine 1-3 | Page 18

AROUND THE WORLD ESPAÑA (SPAIN) HAS CAUGHT PICKLEBALL FEVER I n September 2016, Spain will host the 2nd Annual International Pickleball Tournament in Madrid. Players from over 12 countries and four continents are expected to participate. We recently caught up with Mike Hess, President of the Spanish Pickleball Association and Vice President of the International Federation of Pickleball (IFP), to learn more about the upcoming tournament and the evolution of the sport in Spain and Europe. tournaments earlier this year so that I’d be prepared to train European officials. I learned a lot from Lynn and Linda Laymon (USAPA Training Chairs) in Arizona this year at the Grand Canyon State Games. Organizing sanctioned tournaments is essential to establishing the sport in Europe, so our plan is to eventually implement the USAPA referee certification program. Tell us about the 2nd Annual International Pickleball Tournament. Hess: We’re gearing up for another great event this year. At last year’s international tournament 130 players participated, and this year we expect a larger turnout with even more countries joining us for the second annual competition. It’s very rewarding to host an event that brings so many different nationalities together to compete at all playing levels. The tournament is scheduled for September 16 - 18, 2016, and will be held at an attractive outdoor venue (the Retiro Park) in the heart of Madrid and within walking distance to many historic sites such as the Royal Palace. Registration for the tournament is open at PickleballTournaments.com. How did pickleball get started in Spain? Hess: I learned about pickleball through the National Senior Games Association (NSGA) in 2009 where I served as the National Director of Basketball. I immediately fell in love with the sport and was so amazed with the growth I witnessed on my visits home to California that I decided to help spread the sport to Europe by setting up the associa tion. I’ve been living in Spain for the past 18 years and I founded the Spanish Pickleball Association in 2012. My founding partners are Spaniards who I’ve introduced to the sport. We call the association “Pickleball Spain” to emphasize the American roots of pickleball. Since launching Europe’s first pickleball association in Spain I’ve enjoyed collaborating with a number of other European countries to help them follow suit. Will there be any changes in this year’s tournament? Hess: The biggest change is that we’ll have referees for all games in order to make it an IFP-sanctioned event. I gained hands-on experience refereeing at a number of U.S. How is the sport evolving in Spain and Europe? Hess: Pickleball is definitely gaining momentum throughout Europe. At last year’s tournament dinner in Spain, David Jordan (IFP and USAPA Board President) officially welcomed 16 TO SUBSCRIBE CALL 724.942.0940 OR GO TO THEPICKLEBALLMAG.COM