Love Story

I am quite excited to offer the following tale. It is about a couple of PBers that have done a lot for our game. Many of us got to know them by taking one of their instruction courses at Commonwealth Rec Centre. The title of this article describes not only their feelings for each other, but also their enthusiasm for the sport of pickleball…


Somnuk (Andy) and Cynthia Vixaysouk……In Their Own Words

1. Where were you born, where did you grow up? How did you two get together, and when did you move to Canada

  •  Cynthia was born and raised in Hong Kong. I was born in China, but my family moved around due to the war and finally settled n Laos. Cynthia and I met in Hong Kong where I was playing professional soccer after graduating from university. My team manager’s wife set us up at one of our Christmas parties at their house and the sparks are still growing to this day. We immigrated to New Zealand in 1980 with our one year old daughter, then moved to Canada in 1987 to be closer to our families.

2. What is your sports background?

  • While in Laos, I was passionate about soccer, paying barefoot in the streets as a kid. After a lot of hard work I played on the national team for four years. At the age of 19 I got a soccer scholarship to North Carolina State University where I also played on their American football team as their kicker. My daughter played tennis competitively for several years and, although being self-taught, I served as her trainer and one of her coaches. In 2007 Cynthia and I were introduced to the sport of pickleball which we both immediately fell in love with.

3. I think that you folks were some of the early pioneers of pickleball in Victoria. Were there many people involved in the game then?

  •  When we started playing pickleball in 2007, we played with the Brentwood group. At that time there was  a couple of dozen regular players. The Brentwood group was started by Pat Nichol and Brenda Hopper whom we would like to thank for introducing the sport to Victoria.

4. How and why did you decide to develop your beginners teaching program?

  • Pickleball has changed our lives positively in so many ways, physically, mentally, and socially. For my own self-satisfaction, I always worked hard (and still do) to explore different techniques to improve my game. We wanted to share the benefits that we had experienced as well as the knowledge we had gained about the sport so we decided to volunteer our time and start the pickleball clinic at the Commonwealth Place in January 2011. After a couple of years the demand had grown so dramatically that the Commonwealth Place started the beginners’ classes. Between the clinic and the beginners’ classes I would say that I have taught 400 people.

5. This question is addressed to Andy,…I wish I had a radar gun to measure the speed of some of your shots. How do you generate such power in your volleys?

  • When I first started playing, I thought that speed was everything. But to my surprise, I came to learn that it is only a small part of the game. I find that an unexpected shot combined with a little speed is the most effective. Such a shot is generated mostly from a flick of the wrist in a very relaxed and natural way.

6. Last question folks,….it’s not about pickleball,…it’s about another strategically complicated game. I’ve heard you guys are experts…but,..which one of you is the best at the game of bridge?

  • We don’t know how or where you heard such a rumour!! By no means are we experts in bridge but we do really love the game. Because of my mathematical mind, I am a little better than Cynthia in parts of the game, but when it comes to bidding, she definitely takes the cake! In fact, my bidding often drives her crazy!

Thanks Andy and Cynthia for giving my readers a glimpse into your interesting lives. From me personally,…I am one of the 400 who has attended your great Saturday morning (8:30-10:00) sessions. As in the Chinese tradition, I bow to you coaches.


Open House at the Masjid Al-Iman Mosque, 2218 Quadra St,  Sunday, November 29th 1-3pm

I have a radical, extreme, and…dare I say it, almost religious belief in the power of ‘Pickleball’ to bring people of different cultures together for the greater good of humanity…I know, I know,..I’m probably crazy, but before you dismiss the idea, please listen to my reasoning.

I think that this current war on terrorism can not be won in the same way as other conflicts. Indeed, it seems to me that the current tactics of bombs and guns has only made matters worse! A CC reader sent me a link to the origins of the present situation over there. The middle east has been in turmoil since WW I,…over a hundred years!! Maybe it’s time to try something different. Perhaps the way to win a terror war is by fighting with something other than weapons of destruction. Something more peaceful…..I think we all know what that is….people have their own names for it. but basically it is the caring for our fellow man. It is our natural instinct. Everyone has it, no matter what our race, colour, or religion. That is why Pam and I plan to go to the mosque this weekend. I will try to get to know the devotees there as friends, and, if the subject comes up, I will tell them about my philosophy of peace.

It is important to interact with people of other cultures, even if there is a risk in doing so. Which brings me to a question….Would you attend a goodwill PB tournament if it was held in Turkey, or Iran? How about if the event was happening in Egypt, Lebanon, or Saudi Arabia? I don’t think I would feel safe anywhere over there at this time…..I would even be nervous about going to play in Spain, France , or Holland.

I hope that in my lifetime that this long war will be over, and the artificial borders keeping us apart will be gone. If a future historian looks back at our time and sees a turning point, it will be because of an attitude change. If a movie plot is written about how the war was won, then pickleball might be in the plot. Not as a main character, but personified in a supporting role,….as a character actor that helps different cultures to integrate, so that ‘us’ and ‘them’ join together as a family….We’ll be playing pickleball games instead of war games!!

Please send me your comments. Do you believe in pickleing for peace?


Readers Comments

Thanks to Mike Ketteringham for sending me links to the origins of terror attacks. For anyone interested, I will forward you the links, and Mike’s insightful comments about the death and destruction that occurred on Friday 13th.

Thanks to Anne Scheffers email about what and why events occur. Her bottom line,….some individuals feel they have the privilege of doing what they want to do,…without considering how their behaviour affects others. Anne and I, as facilitators at Pearkes, know that incidents occur at the sessions where players act in selfish ways. To quote her again,…”If you have the solution to this problem you have the solution to the worlds as well.”

I heard from Doris Clemens, re: the early morning PB at Commonwealth Rec., Wed and Friday 7-8:30am. If you want to get on her list, her email is-


Bye for now, play nice, and thanks for the game,

DJ Baker.


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