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UNF Pickleball Club ranked 17th in nation soaring above expectations

Pickleball Club Team wearing matching t-shirts at the regional tournamentAs two teams from the University of North Florida’s Pickleball Club stepped foot on the court for the first time, whispers emerged from spectators about who these unknown students were. By the end of the competition, everyone knew exactly who UNF was.  

The odds were against the underdog teams as they took part in the first annual Dynamic Universal Pickleball Rating (DUPR) Collegiate Regionals in Boca Raton, Florida. After spending a month practicing with no coach in public courts and receiving team shirts just days before leaving for competition, these Ospreys soared above expectations when they claimed 3rd place in the Florida Regional and ranked No. 17 in the nation for the upcoming national tournament taking place at Peachtree Corners, Georgia in November.  

“Many other schools had coaches for their teams and have been established longer,” Courtney Hughes, UNF Pickleball Club’s president and founder, humbly explained. “But as soon as we started, our morale was immediately boosted when we realized that our skills matched or exceeded some really big schools.” 

Hughes started the club in fall 2022 after recognizing the growing interest in her hometown of Jacksonville. The club started off with about eight to ten participants showing up for practice. By the beginning of the spring 2023 semester, around 120 students got involved, with the majority having some experience in the game beforehand.  

The UNF Recreation and Wellness office is currently working on adding lines on the tennis courts to add four pickleball courts that will be open by the end of the semester. 

“We just wanted to see how it would go and didn’t have big expectations,” said Hughes. “It was mostly about having fun. Now we are really excited for the next competition and to bring home more national recognition for UNF.” 

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