As the region’s love of pickleball grows Bundaberg tennis legend Brian Doughty’s trip to gain coaching credentials saw him battle it out against one of the best.
Tennis Bundaberg already has one dedicated pickleball courts but with its popularity booming work is underway to add another four courts.
Born in the region, Brian recalls first playing tennis as a 12-year-old.
Now more than half a century later his passion for the sport is as strong as ever.
A retired farmer, Brian is known to spend his time volunteering for Tennis Bundaberg, with other members describing him as a “club legend”.
“I’ve been on the committee for about 20 years, I have a life membership, but I only do it because I enjoy it,” Brian said.
“I have been secretary for 12 or so years, and president for about six.”
As the secretary Brian is currently busy overseeing the redevelopment at Tennis Bundaberg, adding an additional four pickleball courts to the facility, which will allow a capacity increase to 300 pickleball members.
Although relatively new in Bundaberg, pickleball is similar to tennis and is becoming one of the fastest growing sports in the country.
Two or four players use a paddle to hit a perforated hollow polymer ball over a 36-inch-high net.
The appearance of a pickleball court, and the manner of play, resemble tennis, but the court is the size of a doubles badminton court, less than a third the size of a tennis court.
To cater to the expected increase in player numbers 67-year-old Brian travelled to Yeppoon to take part in a pickleball coaching clinic.
Last-minute pickleball entry secures Brian silver medal
It was there he made a last-minute decision to enter the Queensland Pickleball Tour where he secured a silver medal, pipped at the post by Mike Newell, described as one of the best pickleball educators in the world.
Brian said he was astounded by his surprise triumph over the experienced pickleball competitor and coach.
“I went up to do a coaching course and on the Thursday night we did a skills training to learn how to play the game properly,” Brian said.
“The coaching course was on the Friday and then a bit of a serious tournament on the Saturday and Sunday.
“I was late entering, as usual, and all I got into was the Men's Over 50s Singles.
“Then I came home with a silver, the only person to beat me was the coach and he was only 54 (years old), so I reckon I should have had a 10-point start!”
Brian said he hadn’t played much pickleball in the past as his main focus was tennis, but this was slowly changing.
“I only went up to Yeppoon to learn how to be a pickleball coach – from the man who actually beat me,” he said.
“I am hoping the competition will give me a grading now – it should give me a good grading as I was beaten by one of the best.”
Nine competitors entered the Men's Over 50s Singles competition.
Brian went down against Mike in two sets: 11-0, 11-5.
But Brian was happy with that result saying Mike was a pickleball pro after transitioning to the sport following 29 years of coaching tennis in 41 different countries and running the Pat Cash Tennis Academy.
Pickleball gains advantage among tennis fans
Tennis Bundaberg committee member Barry Franklin said once complete there would be five stand-alone pickleball courts in Bundaberg.
“It’s pretty big for us and Bundaberg as we will have one of only two purpose-built pickleball courts in Queensland – the other is in Yeppoon,” Barry said.
“Our membership has grown significantly over the last few years, pickleball and tennis go hand-in-hand.
“There’s a huge social aspect for older players and then when you see players like Brian bring home a medal – it’s fantastic.
“Brian is inspiring to our club; he never stops and is known as a real legend around here.”