Spanking the Competition

The party was rocking…Elvis was singing his hits, and people were dancing and singing along, but when the sun started to head down the King held up his hand to quiet the crowd and spoke to us.

“I want to thank you all for making me feel so welcome here on Earth. On the planet Zweegh I used to watch other entertainers other than my namesake. For my last song of the evening I would like to do something different.”

Elvis motioned me over, and handed me the mic. I felt nervous for him, but I had to let him make his mark. My voice quavered when I spoke to the crowd.

”Okay folks,” I said, ”to end the concert, Elvis is going to perform a tribute song….introducing, for your enjoyment,… Tiny Tim!”

I looked over and the King shook his head.

”Excuse me,” I corrected, ”introducing Tall Tiny Tim!”

Elvis smiled, nodded his head, and took the mic. His deep rich voice carried out to the audience:

             Tiptoe through the window, by the window, that is where I’ll be,
             come tiptoe through the tulips with me.

The crowd was silent, but Elvis was putting a lot of feeling into the words. Then it happened,…the last part of the song he sang falsetto!

             Knee deep in the flowers we’ll stray, we’ll keep the showers awaaay,                             And if I kiss you in the garden, in the moonlight, will you pardon me,                             and tiptoe through the tulips with meeee!

When he finished the song, the crowd was very quiet. Then someone started to laugh. The sound was contagious, and soon everyone was laughing. It had worked! Tall Tiny Tim had scored a hit!

After that Elvis hung around on the deck for a while talking to people. It was getting dark. Some folks headed home, and some headed, with Yujoil, into the house to continue the party.

When the fans had left, Elvis motioned me over. He talked for a bit about how good it felt to be singing in front of an enthusiastic crowd. He made small talk for a few minutes, and then he stopped, and stood there with a serious expression on his face. After a minute he spoke again.

”There’s something I have to know,” he said,… I waited for him to gather his thoughts. ”Am I going to die young?”

I looked at him with a puzzled expression and he spoke again.

”You know,” he said. ”Am I going to die young, uh,… like the other Elvis?”

I looked at his iconic face. To me it was a timeless face. We had been on a journey together. It had been a good trip, but now it had come down to this moment. I had to wrap things up…and I wasn’t sure what to say to him…I decided to be honest.

”Your going to be around,” I told him with a smile, ”as long as there’s people listening to music. I just have to explain one thing to you.”

He looked at me expectantly.

I said, ”You just have to understand…this column isn’t about rock, it’s about pickleball. You can’t be the main character.”

He smiled. ”That’s all right DJ,…I don’t mind being a bit player. Maybe I’ll do a bit of pickleing with you and McDeep. ” I nodded in agreement. We shook hands and he walked over to where someone was waiting for him.

A fan. Someone I had made a promise to.

I waved goodbye to Elvis and Jan. They got in her car and drove away. I’m not sure of their destination, but I had a feeling they would be good friends.

After that I headed into the house. People were playing games down in the rec room. I was looking forward to getting a lesson in ping pong from Eazy Eddie. As I headed downstairs I was humming a melody about ‘tulips’…… it’s quite a catchy tune.

It amazes me if I’m talking to a pickle pal and I ask them what they think of ‘so and so’ as a player, and they give me a blank stare and say ‘who’s that’? The problem is me. I just assume that everyone is a PB groupie like I am. Below is what I hope is a helpful guide for anyone who is interested in the ‘who’s who’ of our sport. I’m not sure if there is an official seeding of pickleballers, so I have put the ladies in my own subjective order of the top ten, at least among North American players. I wonder though, if there are great players in other parts of the world that we never see? I read in Mona Burnett’s mini bio, that she went to Chile to tune up her game. When the purses increase in the major tournaments, we may see pickleballers from all over the world. Especially in high profile events like the USA Nationals.

  1. Jennifer Lucore – I don’t think there will be any argument here. Especially in women’s doubles when she is paired with Alex Hamner. Together they have a certain synergy that makes them almost unbeatable.
  2. Christine Barksdale – Like Jennifer,…Christine is an all around great player, who can win in singles, doubles, and mixed doubles.
  3. Alex Hamner – She has no weakness that I can see in her game, and she has a great overhead volley.
  4. Gigi LeMaster – A legendary player who doesn’t seem to be slowing down.
  5. Joy Leising – She has time to improve and move up to be a possible number one player.
  6. Mona Burnett – If she’s over the hill, then why is she picking up speed?
  7. Luba Zhekhovskaya – She’s a smart player with good shot placement. Some folks would rank her higher.
  8. Vicki Foster – She also could be ranked higher. The problem with placing her is that she doesn’t play in as many events as the other women.
  9. Tonja Major – Young, skilled, and sure to move up the list in the future.
  10. Jodi Elliot – When your husband is Robert Elliot, and you play in a hotbed of PB in the Villages in Florida, then you can’t help but be good.

Other great ladies to watch for – Stephanie Lane, Adina Jones, Jessica LeMire, Heidi Hancock, Hillary Marold.

I got an email from a friend who plays tennis and pickleball telling me to check out this tennis website where they have an article talking about pickleball.

Q – Do you agree with the South Island Tennis Associations concerns about pickleball lines on tennis courts?

Please check out the article and send me in your opinion.

I had a chance to see some mixed doubles and singles play at the Vancouver Island Championships today (Sunday). I was impressed with the designated and fenced pickleball courts. I talked with the organizer Ken Holman who says that he hopes this will become an annual event. Judging by the large number of participants and the good facilities, I think his wish is assured.

If you haven’t done so yet, check out Ken’s website –

Pearkes is open this week for summer hours on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. The Curling Club is open Monday and Friday.

The McMinners have been playing some days before the afternoon sessions start at Pearkes. Send me an email if you want to get on their list. There should be a lot of players there next week when Pearkes is closed.

Speaking of Pearkes, their great new fall schedule is out! Check it out at:

Some player obsess over their choice of just the right paddle. Is it all psychological, or can a different ‘tool’ make your game ‘pop’? I’ve heard from my spies, that a whole new generation of paddles will soon be available. Here are some highlights:

  • The Super Paddle – made out of the same material as super balls, anything striking the surface is deflected at twice the speed of sound!
  • The Tuner – it’s made of metal. A favourite of Dalton McDeep. If you hit it in the right spots it plays Scottish ballads.
  • The Netter – there’s a mini computer in the handle that gives you advice while you play: hit to his backhand, move up to the kitchen line, serve with 1.7 more ergs of energy, etc.
  • The Blinger – it doesn’t work any better than other paddles, but it’s designed by Nicki Minaj, it has lot’s of day glow face paint, so it should look hot!
  • The Mini – It’s one twenty-fourth the size of a regular paddle. For people who want a more challenging game.
  • The Longfellow – it gives you extra reach. Three inches wide by twenty-one inches long.
  • The Handler – for those of us with sweaty palms. It’s grip sucks the moisture away. It holds 200ml. Kind of gross emptying it out after a long session.

All these sound interesting, but I’m holding out for a different paddle:

  • The Winner – it feels so good that you only hit perfect shots,… in my case it could be called the ‘dreamer’.

I got an email from Dave Metcalfe about the pickleball lines on the tennis courts at Rosedale Park in Saanich. The PB lines do not cross over the tennis lines. They stop and then continue.

This sounds like a better way to do the lining!

A tap of the paddle to everyone who agreed to be a virtual character in the Elvis story. Thank you, thank you veery much!

Much appreciation to my daughter Heather for all her work on the CHALLENGE COURT website.

The archives of the CHALLENGE COURT website are up to date. Future installments will be on the website only. I am going this route to make it easier to do the blog.

Thanks for the game,

DJ Baker.

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