Riding in the Pickle Boat

What makes our sport great is all the interesting people you meet. I love spending time, on and off the court, with ‘pickle pals’. It is a stimulating experience to play our game and make new friends.

For me personally, I find it also stirs something in the literary realm of my mind, that causes me to make other attachments. To rephrase…it gives me the incentive to make some ‘imaginary’ friendships.

For new readers, I introduce you to Dalton McDeep, better known as ‘Deep Dinker’, my philosophical sidekick. The following interaction will give you an idea of how important he is for setting the right mood for the CHALLENGE COURT.

— A conversation between myself and the ‘morose’ McDeep.

DD – ” I canna write well lately.”
DB – ” What’s wrong McDeep? ”
DD – ” My life is a sad tale …. you have to get rid of me, maybe I could be killed by a pickleball injury.”
DB – ” That’s ridiculous DD, people don’t get killed playing pickleball, besides which, you wouldn’t have to die. I would just stop writing about you, and you would disappear.”
(Dalton doesn’t reply , he just looks at me and shakes his head)
DB – ” Don’t you get it Dalton? You wouldn’t have to die because you don’t exist! You’re not real!!
DD – ”That’s not quite true though Dewgie,…. is it? (he looks at me wistfully) ”I do exist in the ‘funny zone’.”
DB – I looked at his sculptured features, and sadly, I realized that McDeep was right. He did exist. He resided in a place that I visualize with a clarity that makes it as real to me as any other place of my ‘here and now’.
I felt choked up as I spoke to the Deep one…….” I’m going to make things better around here for you Buddy.”

………to be continued in the next edition of CC.

One of DD’s profundities is – ”If you want to be the best at ‘something’ , …do something that no one else is doing ”

I think that would be a good motto for a player I recently noticed on ‘you tube’,.. Mathew Blom.

Check out his action in last year’s Tournament of Champions with female partner Alex Hamner and with male partner Enrique Ruiz.

Mathew is tall, and he uses one of those ‘oblong’ shaped paddles that gives his long arms even extra reach. When he was playing with Alex he was moving everywhere along the kitchen line… doing a lot of poaching and switching sides with Hamner. It was quite an unusual style.

I thought it was interesting when he tried the same tactics playing with Ruiz. ….Enrique has a pretty wide ‘wing span’ and likes to poach himself. Blom wasn’t having much luck in moving Enrique’s bulky frame when he was trying to volley at the net.

Their partnership worked though, ….. they won gold in men’s doubles.

Mathew Blom……a player to watch for!

So what other shots are important to learn in the game of pickleball? If you’ve been reading this segment you know about serving and returning the serve….you know about volleying and the importance of dinking. Well, the next shot is not used too often by young, speedy 5.0 players but for older, slower, “more mature” players the lob can be a highly effective shot.

There are two types of lobs. One is used for defense. Your opponent smashes a hard, overhead volley. What do you do? First, if you think your opponent is given a shot he/she can successfully smash, start to back up. Get as close to the baseline as possible. It will give you more of a chance to see the ball and react. If you are able to get your racquet on the ball your shot will be defensive in nature, likely a lob to send your opponent back deeper on the court. A defensive shot such as this requires good timing….it may be a half volley (one that is taken near the ground just after it strikes the court surface). Your wrist is firm and again, your swing starts at the elbow.

Another lob may occur when you are dinking. This lob is more aggressive in nature. Your opponent is near the kitchen line and, perhaps, expecting another dink shot. You use the same motion as the dink shot. Your wrist is firm and your knees are bent. As you straighten your knees you just “lift” the ball and have it rise over your opponent’s head and drop near the baseline. If your opponent gets to the ball, he/she will likely return a very weak defensive shot. You, obviously, have the advantage in this situation. The reason fast, young 5.0’s don’t use this shot is because their opponents with their speed can usually get back so quickly they can make an overhead smash for a winning shot. It does take practise to be able to effectively use this shot.

A lob shot can also be useful when playing outdoors to take advantage of the wind or sun.

Also, a lower lob to your opponent’s backhand, forcing him/her to hit the ball with their back to the net can be effective but, again, this is difficult to execute and not generally, recommended.

Have some fun with the lob but don’t overuse it.

Till next time enjoy the great weather to get some extra ‘pickleing’ time on the courts.

The following is my interview with Vancouver Island’s top ranked player. Let’s find out what it takes to be a champion pickleball player, and let’s find out more about her as a person. Let’s get right to it and find out more about:


  1. Your age?
    • I turned 62 years old in April of this year.
  2. Where did you grow up , and what can you tell us about your family?
    • I was born and raised in Prince George, B.C. and moved to Nanaimo in 1986 with my husband Les and children. We have a total of five children, Darla, Sean, Trevor, Jessica, and Will. My husband and I met while I worked at B.C. Tel where he was a Construction Manager and I was an Engineering Clerk. When we moved to the Island I quit my job with B.C. Tel. Les built our first house in Nanaimo and the there was no stopping him. His love of carpentry brought about selling a house every year or so. I did the bookkeeping as well as getting quotes and making decisions on house decor and design. We retired in 2010.
  3. What is your sports background ?
    • My sports background consists of softball and basketball during school days. In my thirties I took up racquetball and played a few local tournaments where I was fairly successful. My sister Debbie Ward, was on the National racquetball team for many years, in fact winning silver in doubles at the World’s racquetball tournament and winning gold at the Pan Am games, she was a great inspiration to me. Our competitiveness comes from our Mother and Father, who were very good at any sport they played.
  4. How did you discover pickleball?
    • During our trips down south we stayed at a park in Casa Grande called Palm Creek and that is where we got into the sport of pickleball. Immediately I was addicted to this game and so we decided to stay in Palm Creek for the duration of our trip in 2010 – 2011. We have been going south to Palm Creek for the past 5 years where I have entered many tournaments. The year I started I was ranked a 4.0 and because I had been fairly successful medaling at these tournaments, I was raised to a 5.0 ranking in 2013 due mainly to the great partners I have had the privilege of playing with.
  5. Do you have any other hobbies or interest?
    • Pickleball is really my only hobby at present, I play 4 or 5 times a week. My other interest are definitely my grandchildren who I adore, my Church, Genesis Christian Centre, and my husband Les …if it were not for his support I wouldn’t have got as far as I have.
  6. When we spoke in Victoria , you mentioned planning to travel to Europe. What interest you over there?
    • Both my husband and I have a very strong Scottish background so we would love to explore Scotland. We also would spend time in England, and then head over to see the beautiful city of Paris. I am sure we would be touring many museums and art galleries along the way.
  7. If you were given a free ticket to see any musician or entertainer,… who would you pick?
    • If I were given a free ticket I would love to see my favourite Christian band,’Need To Breath’.
  8. Do you continue to look for ways to improve your play , or is it time to relax and enjoy what you have accomplished?
    • My philosophy about life and pickleball has changed in the last while. I was always too series about them both but realize you will live longer and play better if you relax and just have fun. Pickleball has been a lifesaver for me as I am sure it has been for many Seniors.
  9. Last question Theresa , ….suppose a team was facing you and Nancy , or you and Jimbo in a tournament. What tips would you give them so they could do their best against you and your playing partner? I will understand if you don’t want to answer this question.
    • I would say if your strategy is not working, change it, don’t be predictable. Be patient, look for holes, you have more time than you think to place the ball. Also, practise the 3rd shot drop, if you are able to slow the game down from any angle of the court then you are at a definite advantage.

I hope that helps.


Doug – Thanks Theresa for sharing your ‘pickle’ sense and for letting us get to know you better. Good luck to you and your playing partners, Nancy Stern and Maurice Parobec, in this year’s Nationals in Kelowna.

The response has been good for the idea of a picnic at McMinn park on Tuesday, July 7th .
This could be the first, of what I hope, will become an annual event. Pickleball would start at 9am for the ‘keeners’ and a Potluck lunch at noon.

If any of the CHALLENGE COURT readers from up island want to attend, we would love to see you.

The address for McMinn Park is 996 Seapearl Pl.
I will have more in next week’s newsletter.

I received a note from Dave McNeill reminding people that the curling club on 1952 Quadra St is open for pickleball all summer. The hours are Mon and Fri from 9 to 12.

Players have enjoyed the coolness there as opposed to the heat of outside.

SCOOP – Dave tells me there is going to be a fun pickleball tourney at the old curling club on Sept 5th of this year. What a ‘cool’ idea!!!

Allanah sent me a message reminding people that Juan de Fuca curling rink also has pickleball for the summer, …… Tuesday and Thursday 6pm to 8pm and Saturday 1-3 pm.

Reality is suspended!!

Deep Dinker gets his ‘mojo’ back, and I introduce a new character… Jean, the Scottish Genie.

Also ……. excitement is building for the Nationals. The ‘Who’s Who’ of who is going to be there.

Also…. (if I can get it together in time)….. insight on the most exciting spectator part of

pickleball… singles play.

‘Pickle well’,


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