You Are the Best Player

As I stated in Sundays installment, I had too much to put in one email.

Here is some more on the Nationals in Kelowna. Starting with some eye witness accounts by Victoria’s Heather Hood.

Well Doug, the tournament was really something, especially having the opportunity to watch some of the best PB players in the USA play right on the court next to us. One of the highlights was sitting with the likes of PB stars, Mona Burnett and Gigi LeMaster. Photographers, Gwen Hay and Beverly De Haitre made sure there was room for us to get in the photos too. Exciting highlights included a rain out where we waited under the trees for over an hour and watched volunteer brigades sweep water off the courts.

The Women’s Doubles Open Gold Match Saturday night went until 8pm and when at the score 14-5, one of the players twisted her ankle going for a lob. This meant medics, ice , bandage , …but then she got up and finished the match winning Gold. Today however, she was well bandaged and out of the matches.

There was also the wine tasting at Sandhills. And much more.

— I sent Heather a reply asking if the injured player was Joy Leising (who would have had a good shot at Gold in singles )

Hi Doug, yes, Joy Leising was the player who injured herself going back for an outside right lob shot on the right side of the court. She looked like she turned her ankle as she turned to return the lob. She went own and stayed down for at least 15 minutes. Medics came and taped her ankle and yes it was getting a little darker. I did wonder if they would call it. Nevertheless the game was back on.

Mona and Gigi rallied back forcing Joy to hold her own. It took a while for Joy and Christine

(Barksdale) to finish and if my memory serves me (remember I have score keeping deficit) it was Gigi who lost the final rally for match point.

The next day I met Joy coming out of the Ladies room and complimented her on her amazing play for Gold while under duress. I mentioned that although, ”we were cheering for Mona and Gigi to win ‘‘, during the game her play was inspiring to us all. She smiled and said,

” Oooooooh, you must have been the gang sitting behind us with all the loud cheering! And, I thought you were yelling for us”.

— Thanks Heather for that funny anecdote. You make a great sports reporter!

There will soon be some pictures from the Nationals up on the CHALLENGE COURT website.

There are also archive installments of CC on the same site.


When we are watching the pros play pickleball in person, or on you tube, we shouldn’t forget that they are just ordinary people who make mistakes and have flaws in their performances.

Sometime in ‘your’ next game you will make a wonderful play. No one is there to tape it,….. no audience is there to cheer. No one except your playing partners.

” Nice shot ” …… ” Good get ” ….. or… ” Great rally ”…is all that is said to make note of the highlight reel play that has occurred… but, for that brief moment, ‘ you ‘ are the ‘star ‘. It has no relationship to a greater purpose in life, and yet , even though it’s just a game , we want to do well . Smile, there’s no need to explain.

…” I didn’t mean to hit the ball that way, it deflected off the edge of my paddle,… it was a happy accident ”!

TIPS FROM THE RITE WAY COACH – TIP # 11: Court Positioning
Any discussion of pickleball defense inevitably talks about court positioning. Where should each partner on a double’s team stand when getting ready for a return shot from your opponent? This is a big topic and much easier to show on a court than explain.

I will give this topic a go and, hopefully, cover some of the basics. When the ball is served to you, both you and your partner should ‘follow your return flight ‘ of the ball. If you hit the ball cross court to the far corner, you follow the flight of the ball and you will stop near mid court. Your partner will be about five feet away and covering the line on that side. If your return were to the centre of the court, both you and your partner would be about two and a half feet from the centre court and thus , about five feet from each other. Of course, if you return the ball to your side of the court and it lands near the corner, your path would have you cover the line and your partner would be near mid court. This is all pretty basic.

Many have heard you should ‘ play like there is a string ‘ between you. If your partner moves two feet to the left, you move two feet to the left as well. Too big a space between you is an invitation to your opponent to shoot the ball down the middle where neither partner can reach the ball. If you are too close together, the sides near the line leave you exposed. Often you may have heard you should try to stay the same distance from the baseline or kitchen line as your partner. This is true. But if one partner is ‘back’ and one ‘up’ (near the kitchen line) who should move??

I have heard many discussions regarding this. One partner will say you should always move forward. This is not necessarily true. It will depend if you are in a position to play offense or must resort to defense. If you have your opponents deep or off balance, move forward… apply some more pressure. Don’t necessarily try to win the point in ‘the next shot’, but keep up the pressure until they error or you have a great ‘put away’ shot.

If your team is under pressure try to back up so you can cover more court and also return harder shots that will be directed your way.

Some of this becomes ‘instinctive’. You try to move about as a team, moving forward on your team’s good shots and back when you sense your opponents have an advantage.

Hope this helps. Till next time, enjoy the great weather and your PB games.


Pickleball Tournament at the Victoria Curling Club vs Mexican Madness at Oliver Woods, Nanaimo

Some pickleball players are worried that attendance at the ‘ Mexican Scramble ‘ will be reduced because the Victoria tournament is on the same day.

I think that there is enough pickleballers on the Island where this won’t be an issue. To help things along, I plan to advertise both events in CC.

Let’s talk Spanish! Info for the Scramble is on this great website – . Cost is $30 but this is a full meal deal…lunch is included.

The Curling Club event (1952 Quadra St) is $10. I have some registration forms, or go online (recreation, see David McNeill when drop in is on (Monday and Friday 9am – noon), or call 250-361-0732.

I hope everyone will pick one of these events to attend. In a future article I will get into more about the importance of supporting PB in the City of Victoria.

Email from Gail Comerford

Hey Doug, thought you would like this…

A friend of my daughters joined us for pickleball at Esquimalt last Sunday for the first time. He was already hooked and heading out to Court Side to buy a paddle a few days later. Sent this text asking for a recommendation on what paddle to buy.

” I’m a pretty dynamic player, cautious but assertive. Effective backhand, lots of short play and drop shots. Not overly reliant on power but need the option.”

I told him to buy a pink one!  Hahaha

Cheers Gail

Thanks to my spies up in Kelowna for the great info and pictures. The main thing I learned from them …. A good time was had by all!!

I can’t say enough about the wonderful job that my daughter Heather has been doing on the ‘ Court ‘ website. You can go on the site and see past issues and make comments on any articles that you like. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Maybe I will have a big surprise for my readers in the next issue.  I have no idea what to write about, so I may have to ‘wing it’.

Oh, oh, oh… I’ve got it! I’ll write about the first racquet sport that was played by the cavemen, in a match between the Neanderthals and the Cro Magnons. The loser had to shave the other guys back, and the winner got an all expense trip to Gondwana Land….it should be interesting stuff!

Till then, thanks for the game.

DJ Baker.

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