AROUND THE WORLD
ESPAÑA (SPAIN) HAS CAUGHT
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
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
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
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