Mixed doubles teams compete at the Lake Cowichan pickleball courts on the second day of the Island championships last weekend. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Mixed doubles teams compete at the Lake Cowichan pickleball courts on the second day of the Island championships last weekend. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Pickleballers pack Lake Cowichan for successful Island championships

Well-received event shows off Lake Cowichan’s courts

More than 100 avid pickleball players from across Vancouver Island gathered in Lake Cowichan last weekend for the 2018 Island championships.

Weather tried to play havoc with the tournament, but organizers managed to beat the conditions at every turn. There were two rain delays on Saturday, and the men’s doubles division wrapped up on Sunday morning instead of Saturday afternoon, but in the end, every game was played, and the tournament ended just an hour later than planned.

“Every contingency plan we developed for the tournament, we used,” said Dennis Peters, the president of the Cowichan Lake Pickleball Club, who envisioned bringing the Island championships to Lake Cowichan in the first place.

Of the more than 100 participants, some played in three events (mixed doubles, either men’s or women’s singles, and either men’s or women’s doubles). Peters was aware of one man who played 17 games on Sunday as he competed in men’s doubles, mixed doubles, and men’s singles. The field also included Damaris and Peter Brix of Victoria, who won the national mixed doubles title in Kelowna last month. Although they finished third in the mixed doubles event at Lake Cowichan — won by Youbou’s Bob Fish and Victoria’s Lindy Arnold — the Brixes did take home their respective singles titles.

According to Bee Greenway, who handles media relations for the Cowichan Lake Pickleball Club, everyone she spoke to enjoyed competing in Lake Cowichan.

“I played in it on Saturday, and I found it to be a marvelous experience,” she said. “That seems to be the feeling of all the competitors there.”

The club has a lot of relatively new players — Peters estimates that the majority have played for less than a year — and that was part of Peters’s reasoning for bringing the Island championships to Lake Cowichan.

“I had two goals in mind,” he said. “One was to expose our club members to a high level of pickleball. The second was to display to the pickleball world on Vancouver Island what we have in Lake Cowichan. Lake Cowichan has some of the best outdoor courts on the Island.”

The Cowichan Lake Pickleball Club started in February 2017 with 21 members. As of the final day of the tournament, that number had grown to 101. More than 10 members took part in the Island championships, Peters said: about six or seven permanent residents of the area, and about three or four seasonal residents.

Vancouver Island Pickleball Championships results

Women’s doubles • A flight

First: Damaris Brix and Carolyn O’Brien (Victoria), Second: Elizabeth Peckham and Kerry Savory (Victoria), Third: Colleen Crowder and Lissy Rauber (Black Creek)

• B flight

First: Evelyn Kaatz and Jen Hlannon (Ladysmith and Crofton), Second: Sally Morten and Elaine Levell (Nanaimo), Third: Cindy Bruster and Jill Nelson (Apache Junction, Ariz. and Comox)

Men’s doubles

• A flight

First: Wayne Russell and Scott Davis (Victoria), Second: Randy Oben and Peter Brix (Victoria), Third: Thomas Rauber and Clay Toresdahl (Black Creek and Comox)

• B flight

First: John Handy and Sean Kennedy (Sooke and Nanaimo), Second: Mark Lucier and Clemens Smienk (Duncan and Maple Bay), Third: Tom Sharpe and Ray Bradford (Saltair)

Mixed doubles

• A flight

First: Lindy Arnold and Bob Fish (Victoria and Youbou), Second: Lissy and Thomas Rauber (Black Creek), Third: Damaris and Peter Brix (Victoria)

• B flight

First: Anna Edgar and Peter Korvin (Nanaimo), Second: Debbie Simpson and Wayne Russell (Victoria), Third: Jen Hlannon and Neil Martin (Crofton and Comox)

Women’s singles

First: Damaris Brix (Victoria), Second: Barb Lawrie (Ladysmith), Third: Teri Kielbiski (Victoria)

Men’s singles

First: Peter Brix (Victoria), Second: Clay Toresdahl (Comox), Third: Bill McKay (North Saanich)