Pickleball-obsessed Michael Hudson had never heard of the sport until he saw it advertised in the paper: now he is a double national champion.

The 65-year-old struck gold in the men’s doubles and singles of the 65+ category at the 2023 English Nationals and has become ‘totally consumed’ by the exponential rise of the racquet phenomenon.

It was a rocky ride for Hudson in the round-robin qualifier singles but the Derbyshire pickleballer held his nerve to make it all the way to the finals.

“It’s been knackering,” he joked. “I’m very pleased because that’s my second gold.

“We’ve been playing pickleball about 18 months and I can remember my wife Lesley saying, 'There’s an advert here in the paper, do you fancy coming to pickleball with me?' and now I’m totally obsessed and consumed with it.

“It’s so addictive. I run as well but since I’ve done pickleball, all my other sports have been shoved in the cupboard and I just get consumed with pickleball.”

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 attending the National Championships at the Bolton Arena, up from 430 at the 2022 event.

Hudson met his doubles partner Keith Jones at the English Open in August and the pair have struck up a formidable partnership in two months.

“It was my first tournament in August,” he added. “I got through to the quarter-finals and just missed out but it was a good experience.”

“In one of the qualifying rounds in the singles this weekend got hammered 11-2 and I thought it wasn’t my day but then I bucked up.

“I think the popularity of pickleball will sky-rocket even more, there will be a lot more people, we’re getting younger people which is good to have them coming through.

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