Sports Other Sports

Morden pickleballer promoting sport

Lauren MacGill

Pickleball player Rose Sawatzky is bringing awareness to the sport.

Pickleball player Rose Sawatzky is bringing awareness to the sport.

A local pickleball player is bringing awareness to the sport through workshops this week.

Rose Sawatzky has been playing pickleball for two years now. “I was in Arizona two years ago and the weather wasn’t exactly nice so I joined the gym,” she said. “I did a lot of indoor activities and one of the people I was playing volleyball with asked me if I would like to play pickleball.”

When she got home, Sawatzky looked into the sport and found that it was already being played in the Winkler/Morden area. She decided to give it a try and has been playing since.

“There’s nothing more fun than getting on the court and playing with players of similar ability,” Sawatzky said. “Often you hear, ‘This is going to be my last game,’ but you hear that five games later because people are so addicted to the sport.”

“Because it’s such a fast paced sport depending on the skill level, it’s easy to put a few games in instead of going for a few hours for a tournament,” she added.

Sawatzky has played in around 10 sanctioned tournaments throughout the prairie provinces and North Dakota. She is planning on travelling to British Columbia in July to play.

Sawatzky holds a 4.0 ranking, one of the highest that can be achieved.

“There’s different skills you have to acquire for every different level of pickleball,” Sawatzky explained. “Pickleball starts at a 2.0. If you demonstrate certain skills and master them then you move on to the next rating, which goes up by 0.5.”

“Only qualified individuals can give you your skill rating,” she added. “At a tournament they’ll have someone sit by the sidelines and rate individuals by their success.”

When Sawatzky was playing in Beausejour, she had self-rated as a 3.5 After the tournament, she was told that she actually needed to go up a level.

The highest level a pickleball player can achieve is a 5.0.

Sawatzky is currently in the process of becoming a certified pickleball instructor, and will be going to Arizona at the end of January to complete her courses.

Sawatzky said pickleball is a sport that can be played by anyone, regardless of age or skill level.

To help promote the sport, Sawatzky is holding workshops to introduce players to pickleball and teach them some basic skills and shots.

Sawatzky held one workshop on Jan. 9 and the second takes place Jan. 11 at 6:00 p.m. at Emerado School. She hopes to hold more workshops in the future, including some for more advanced players.

“Pickleball is such a social, family-oriented sport for any age,” she said. “It’s easy on the joints, it’s one of the easiest sports to learn. I like to see people get active and come out and have fun on the court.”

Sawatzky is also hoping that, with the sport growing at such a rapid pace, she can convince city council to invest in some pickleball infrastructure. “It’s not only for pickleball,” she said. “People can use it for tennis, they can play badminton.”

“[Part of] the reason pickleball is so popular is because the equipment you need is very inexpensive,” she added. “All you need is a paddle and a ball.”

Anyone interested in the sport or wanting more information can contact Rose at r-sawatzky@hotmail.com or at (204) 822-9561. Winkler and Morden also have a list of facilities available on their websites.

Anyone looking for equipment can also go through Rose, as she can help them pick which paddle is best suited for them. “Just buying a paddle off the shelf isn’t that great,” she explained.