While Pickleball – a paddle sport that combines elements of tennis, table tennis, and badminton – is one of the latest disciplines to be introduced to our shores, the sport has formed its very first Malta national team.
What’s more, is the fact that the team is heading to Madrid on Thursday for the Spanish Open from September 2-5.
Speaking to the Times of Malta, Steffi Pace – who brought the sport to Malta in 2018 and who will be leading the team at the tournament – was modest about the team’s aims would be.
“Being our very first international tournament, we do not have very high expectations. We hope to perform well and give all our opponents a good game,” Pace said.
Malta will be represented in the women, men and mixed doubles in a team made up of six players.
Asked about how the sport came about here in Malta, Pace explained how she had heard about it on holiday.
“There were Americans who got chatting to me and asked what I do for a living. When I said I was a tennis coach they mentioned pickleball and said it was the fastest-growing sport in America. It originated there also,” she said.
“I did a sports coaching masters in Loughborough in the UK six years earlier and I absolutely love coaching. So I started coaching pickleball too besides tennis. They are similar in many ways.
“Pickleball is a paddle sport which is played on a badminton-sized court over a net. The paddles are way smaller than tennis rackets and the balls are made of plastic, not like tennis balls which are made of rubber.”
The Malta Pickleball Association was eventually set up with the association hosting its first competition in 2020. This year, another two competitions have taken place to determine national team selection.
Malta National Team
Women’s doubles: Steffi Pace and Roberta Girard
Men’s doubles: Mark Anastasi and Tony Thompson; Joseph Borg and Malcolm Falzon
Mixed Doubles: Steffi Pace and Malcolm Falzon; Roberta Girard and Tony Thompson