Plummer reflects on pickleball’s rise

Faye Plummer’s pickleball career can be traced back to a single Facebook post.

The 44-year-old from Worcester Park has been playing pickleball for over five years and is now one of the top female players in the country, boasting a hefty collection of national and international medals.

Pickleball was invented as a children’s backyard game in Washington, US, in 1965 and is now quickly climbing the ranks in the UK at both community and elite level.

And Plummer admitted that her illustrious sporting career can be linked back to a memorable Facebook post from her friend Louise Stephens.

“I’d never even heard of the sport until my friend Lou, who had just got back from the States, decided to go to a club not too far from us in Heathrow,” said the former footballer.

“One Sunday morning, she put a Facebook post up saying that she was off to play this crazy sport of pickleball.

“I liked the status and the next thing I knew; I had a text message from her saying ‘you’ve got five minutes; I’m coming to pick you up and we’re going to play’.

“I really didn’t want to go but she marched me out of the house.

“We turned up, I picked up this paddle, went onto the court and from that first hit I was addicted.”

Since that pivotal moment, Plummer’s pickleball obsession has blossomed into an elite career that most could only dream of, including becoming the first European woman to clinch gold in singles, women’s doubles, and mixed doubles at the 2018 Dutch Open.

“It’s addictive it really is,” said Plummer, who also works full-time as a customer service assistant at a medical company.

“You can have a bad match but then an hour later you just want to be back on court again.

“My greatest achievement was probably when we played in Amsterdam in 2018 and I won the triple crown.

“If I remember correctly, I was the first female in Europe to have ever achieved that so it’s something nobody can ever take away.

“That’s definitely my proudest moment.

“I don’t really play singles anymore because that is where the sport becomes a little bit more like tennis and I’m not cut out for that. I prefer doubles.”

Over the past year, pickleball has seen a meteoric rise in the UK due to its inclusive and accessible nature, with an estimated 12,000 regular players and over 450 venues offering the sport across the country.

There are now 682 athletes set to attend this month’s National Championships at the Bolton Arena, up from 430 at the 2022 event.

And after winning two medals last year, Plummer revealed her intentions to return to the podium in her doubles events this time round.

“It’s such an inclusive sport,” she said. “Anyone can play.”

“I’ve seen players as young as eleven going all the way up to people in their 80s.

“There are over 12,000 people in the UK who play right now because it’s so accessible to play as well.

“With more and more leisure centres starting to take it a bit more seriously, it’s really taking off.

“The National Championships this year will be tough because of the amount of competition coming through.

“I’m playing the gender doubles with my life partner and we’re pushing for a top five finish or even top three.”

2023 English Nationals takes place at Bolton Arena from Thursday 26th October to Sunday 29th October.   This year’s English Nationals is sponsored by Franklin, Skechers, Scan and UK Pickleball Shop, Play will commence from 9am each day. Head to to find out more or to find your nearest place to play.

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