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Training session prepares Team PicklePlay for pursuit of Evelina Trophy

For the six teams competing in the Franklin Premier Pickleball League (PPL) - the UK’s first (and only) professional pickleball league - April is not just another month in the calendar. On 28 April, the teams will battle it out in the playoff and championship matches that will determine who will win the first season of the league and claim the coveted Evelina Trophy. As the date approaches, the anticipation and excitement within the pickleball community is palpable. 

The members of Team PicklePlay, known for their highlighter pink kit and captained by Louis Laville (current European Champion in men’s singles and National Champion in men’s doubles and mixed doubles), have their sights set on the trophy. To ensure they are in peak form for the PPL finale, they organised a weekend training session (focusing on gender doubles, mixed doubles and dreambreakers) followed by a social, aimed at honing their match mentality and promoting team cohesion.

With paddles in hands, the team gathered in London on a crisp Saturday afternoon. Geographical barriers (for Tom Turney and Anty Giuliano, travelling from the Isle of Wight and Peterborough) and last-minute childcare issues (for Tom Turney and Emily Jelly) did not hold them back, with picklebabies, Rapha Turney and Evelina Jelly, joining to support from the sidelines (see photo). 

An impressive roster of the UK’s top pickleball players, including PPL captains Thaddea Lock, James Chaudry and Freddie Powell, attended the session to provide practice opposition for Team PicklePlay. The clack of paddles, the rhythmic thud of the ball, and the occasional cheers signalled the intensity of the competition to come.   

As the training session drew to a close, the members of Team PicklePlay and their practice opposition departed the courts to have tea and cake to celebrate James Chaudry’s birthday (as away from the court, the PPL community is characterised by friendship). 

Less than 50 days to go until the PPL Finale, taking place at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre! If you would like to watch the finale, take part in a Pro Clinic or the PPL Festival on the day please go to our website for more info: www.premierpickleball.co.uk.

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