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Alvaro Triana and Tom Mills produce pulsating final at Deloitte Pickleball Open

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Entertainers: Thomas Mills, left, and Alvaro Triana (Photograph by Mehluli Sibanda)

Alvaro Triana and Thomas Mills brought the house down during a captivating battle in the men’s singles final at the Deloitte Pickleball Open on Tuesday.

A sizeable crowd at Pomander Gate Tennis & Pickleball Club witnessed the two men try to outfox each other on court, with 35-year-old Spaniard Triana, a former padel player, prevailing 11-2, 9-11, 11-6, to defend the title he won last year.

“I’m really happy to win this tournament,” Triana said.

“The level keeps getting harder every year, so it’s going to be hard to keep on winning. The final was really good, Tom is a brilliant player. He pushed me to my limits and I had to play my best shots to win the match.

“It was a great atmosphere and pickleball is a growing sport on the island. We saw that with more people coming to watch.

“I used to be a padel player in Spain and that really helps a lot for pickleball singles. I think padel is the perfect background if you want to succeed in pickleball.

“I also used to play tennis until I got a rotator cuff injury. That doesn't allow me to serve properly in tennis, so that’s why I switched to pickleball.”

Mills, 41, who finished fifth in the Bermuda Half-Marathon Derby, was pleased with his effort in the final.

“It was a really tough match and at least I salvaged one set and avoided being whitewashed,’’ he said.

“That was a relief. Alvaro has won most of the singles tournaments at Pomander Gate, so I’m glad I gave him a little bit of a game.

“When I won the second set, I thought I’m in with a chance and I was hoping that he makes a few mistakes, but sadly he didn't.

“It was great fun and a great tournament that Pomander Gate put together. I've been playing pickleball for 18 months and it’s a great community that Bermuda is building up, with a lot of work being done behind the scenes to grow the sport.”

Benjamin Jones, left, and Michael Way (Photograph by Mehluli Sibanda)

Benjamin Jones, a former Bermuda junior tennis player, combined with Michael Way to overcome Ryan Matcham and Stuart Smith 11-3, 11-1, in the men’s doubles 4.0 & above.

“It feels really nice to be a champion,’’ Jones said.

“In the final I felt like I was on top of my game. My partner was really steady, played really well and helped me to stay focused mentally.

“The score may make it look easy, but we really punished their mistakes. We were patient and just got the job done.”

Way, 58, saw an improvement in the way they played as the tournament progressed.

“We played much better than we did we on Saturday,’’ he said.

“We played pretty well in the semi-finals, then we played our best match in the final. It was one-sided but in pickleball, you've stay on top of the opponents because things can change very quickly.”

Melisa Judd, left, and Neal Towlson (Photograph by Mehluli Sibanda)

Neal Towlson teamed up with Melisa Judd to taste success the mixed doubles 4.0 & above, winning 11-7, 11-3, against Sarah Fox and Courtland Boyle.

Judd, a former Bermuda volleyball player, was also a runner-up in the women’s doubles 3.5 & above, when she teamed up with Val Stevenson in the defeat to Elin Daniels and Lily Hallett.

“It feels amazing to be a champion as this is my second tournament and I’m really happy with the result,’’ Judd said.

“We really had great competition and the teams that we played in the preliminary rounds on Saturday were all very strong.”

George and Jasper Thomas (Photograph by Mehluli Sibanda)

There was success for the father and son combination of George and Jasper Thomas in the men’s doubles 3.5-3.99. The two triumphed 11-2, 11-6 over Jan Brewer and Tim McKittrick.

“It’s fun to win this tournament because this event is open to anyone and not just members of Pomander Gate,’’ George Thomas said.

“We started playing pickleball during the pandemic and it’s great because it’s a sport that’s very easy to pick up.

“It’s unlike tennis that you have to play for years. Almost anybody can pick up a pickleball paddle and within half an hour to 45 minutes they can play and have some success.”

In another family affair, husband and wife, Christine and David Soutter fought off a strong challenge from the Johnston siblings, Megan and Noel, to win the mixed doubles 3.0-3.49.

“It was a pleasure to play against a brother and sister in the final, and my husband and I thoroughly enjoyed that,’’ Christine Soutter said.

Christine Soutter, left, and David Soutter (Photograph by Mehluli Sibanda)

“It was nice to get the win in the end, but they certainly ran us around the court. This was our first tournament, my husband and I playing together, and we really enjoyed playing.”

The women’s doubles final in the 3.0-3.49 category was won by Tanya Risk and Tara Hall, who triumphed over Sameera Hasan and Lulu Neame.

Matthew Peterson and Nicholas Peterson bagged the men’s doubles 3.0-3.49, while the mixed doubles 3.5-3.99 went to Lily Hallett and Ken Mulongo.

Liana Carrick, the Pomander Gate club manager, revealed the club is looking at ways to cope with the rising level of participation, with 160 players participating in the tournament this year.

“The pickleball tournaments run at Pomander Gate Tennis & Pickleball Club have come a long way over the past four years,’’ she said.

“It’s not an easy task with so many fired-up pickleballers and a limited number of courts to work with.

“Future tournaments ideally should see events split, as opposed to preliminary matches all being round-robin.

“More of Bermuda’s pickleball players are travelling overseas to compete and want to see the same level of event here at home.

“Maybe one day Bermuda will be able to boast its own international open pickleball tournament.”

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Published June 20, 2024 at 10:49 am (Updated June 20, 2024 at 10:50 am)

Alvaro Triana and Tom Mills produce pulsating final at Deloitte Pickleball Open

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