A BANGOR-BORN pickleball player has won a national title just a year after taking up the sport.

John Lloyd-Jones, who now lives in Liverpool, stumbled upon the sport, which sees players hit a hollow, perforated ball with paddles over a net, after initially signing up to play badminton and table tennis.

But the 72-year-old, who only joined his club Leigh three months ago, took gold in the men’s 70+ doubles alongside Frank Coldwell at the English Nationals in Bolton.

The pair had never met before but were thrown together after both needed a doubles partner, and immediately hit it off to sweep to the title after bouncing back from defeat in their opening game.

“I needed a partner for the men’s and there is a system where you can send an email to someone also looking for a partner and ask them if they fancy it,” said Lloyd-Jones.

“That’s what I did, I didn’t know Frank, he said he’d be delighted.


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“It’s my first tournament, it’s quite extraordinary. I have had two total hip replacements and have issues with my spine.”

Over the past year, pickleball has seen a meteoric rise in the UK, with an estimated 12,000 regular players and more than 450 venues offering the sport across the country.

682 people competed at the National Championships this year, up from 430 at the 2022 event.

Lloyd-Jones is one of those who have recently taken up the sport, revealing it was the welcoming nature of the players that struck him most.

He added: “I am just getting to know the pickleball community as I am brand new to it.”

“You can see from Leigh Pickleball Club, it is very active and lively and there is great camaraderie.”

The 2023 English Nationals took place at Bolton Arena from October 26-29.

This year’s event was sponsored by Skechers, Franklin, Scan and UK Pickleball Shop.

Head to https://www.pickleballengland.org/ to find out more or to find your nearest place to play.