Junior World Tennis Tour and Canadian Pickleball Series featured in Burnaby

The courts of the Burnaby Tennis Club are busy in June with more than 200 players, coaches and family members attending two competitions.

For the first time, top junior players from Canada and around the world are taking part in the Burnaby J30 ITF – an event sanctioned by the International Tennis Federation and Tennis Canada.

More than 50 per cent of the tennis players are from B.C., 30 per cent are from the rest of the Canada with the remainder of participants coming from Brazil, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Mexico, Panama, Ukraine and the United States.

Tournament Director Andrei Alexe says the Burnaby Tennis Club offers great facilities in a central location. “These facilities are exceptional,” he says. “We’re playing on five match courts and two practice courts. Players are fortunate to have enough practice courts and a good schedule. It’s a beautiful complex.”

As for the competition, Alexe says this junior tour is an opportunity for future stars of the sport. “Some of the players are already competing at a high level, but there’s also a good opportunity for local kids  to get involved. This is where you start.”

One of those young players looking to move up the junior tennis tour rankings is 15-year-old Taylor Yarnell of Seattle. This is his first time competing at the Burnaby Tennis Club. “It’s very close to where we are staying. The courts are nice and fast. We are meeting kids from different countries.”  His goal is to continue with the sport that he’s been playing since the age of three. The Burnaby J30 ITF runs until June 10.

On the other side of the Club, the Burnaby Cup, part of the Canadian Pickleball Series featured 45 players of all ages and skill levels.

A hybrid of tennis, badminton and table tennis, pickleball is quickly growing in popularity. “It really is,” says Kitt Hanley, tournament director for the series. “Initially, it was mostly seniors playing it. Now, the trending demographic is an average age of mid to late twenties. It’s a sport that appeals to all ages and they can all compete. It’s a very social sport as well.”

Christina Hall of West Vancouver tried pickleball once and says she never stopped. “It’s a very fun sport. You meet a lot of friends and the competition is good.”

Summing up the experience in Burnaby, Alexe appreciates the support from the City and Sport Burnaby. “We are really happy with everyone involved. We hope to be back next year.”

Photos courtesy of Sam Corea