Back in The Pearkes High Life Again

Wow, my ‘hood’ has only been closed since Dec. 24th, but it seems like longer! It’ll be great to get back to the same old place we laughed about. See you at the hanger on Tuesday at 1pm.


2016 Vows and Views

I thought I would start the ball popping this year with some resolution inputs from some reader pals:

  • Susan Guest- My pickleball resolutions are the same as always: remain injury free, continue to have fun and socialize with other picklers, respect the facilitators and follow the guidelines, play better with my new paddle (thanks Wayne!), keep running so that I stay fit for pickleball, encourage new players, promote the sport to non-pickleball friends, try new venues, play in a sportsmanlike manner, and laugh a lot!!…..Cheers, Susan.
  • Edward Zabiela- My 2016 Pickleball Resolutions are to recommend the termination of the use of public Drop-In facilities, exclusively for Segregated Partner, Singles & Advanced Pickleball Play at municipal taxpayer expense. All Drop-In playtimes should be available to all taxpayers, regardless of their abilities. Discriminating players can rent private courts and establish their own elite systems of play. Furthermore, discriminating play (i.e. not using the fairly established box system and picking your partners and opponents) should not be tolerated at Drop-In play, and those individuals should be disciplined accordingly.
  • Allanah Fuhre- My 2016 pickleball resolutions (or at least my dreams) are: To be as kind as Dave Metcalfe, as helpful as Mike Seal, as good a dinker as Elisabeth, as acrobatic as Wayne, as friendly as Susan, as good a lobber as Bob Gauthier, as fit as John Mcleod, as powerful a slammer as Jesse, as interested as Ted Love, as friendly as big Mike, as courteous as Doug, as sociable as Jan, as dedicated as Meng, well,…you get the idea. I think each and every pickleball player/fan has something that we can aspire to improving in ourselves. Happy New Year!
  • Doug Baker- I will try to improve my on court performance by playing smarter. For me, that means more practice on dinking and drop shots, but,….I also have a secret weapon that I plan on developing. It is a surprise shot that I will discuss in a future CC article. The second part of my 2016 ambitions have to do with PB writing. I’ve got ideas I’m working on for improving my blog. Most of the stuff is technical,…it involves me getting more adept at computer programs. I hope the changes will make CHALLENGE COURT more fun to read, and,…. more fun to write.
  • I would like to add something here on a player I admire. It is a comment on her New Years dreams. I’ll preface my remark by asking, those of you who were there, to recall the B final at the Xmas Classic Tournament…..After a ‘long days play’, Allanah and Sandy eked out a 15-14 win against Richard and Joan. Allanah always seems to do well in  clutch situations. Based on her play, my resolution is to be as indefatigable a competitor as Allanah Fuhre…she plays well when the pressure is on!!

So,….what’s happening pick-alongs? Is everything hunky-dory with your life?….Are you too old a dog to learn new tricks?….Are you just going to go with the flow in 2016?….Or, are there some exciting changes you want to make this year?

Send me a note if you have some compelling pickleball plans or ambitions you want to share with me and your PB friends:




Being Green

This article is in response to emails I have received from some of my subscribers who describe themselves as ‘newbies’ to the game of pickleball.

–Hi there new players to our PB sport. I’m fairly new myself, actually,…most of us are. If you ask around you’ll find that the majority of people started playing less than 5 years ago. I’m almost a veteran,…I took up the game way back in the year of 2011. One thing I’ve noticed since then, is how quickly pickleball is growing in Victoria. As a facilitator at Pearkes Rec, I meet new people every week. In this article I’ll talk about things I’ve experienced, and, the people that have influenced me in my own picklehead journey. It’s written for the new people,…you know,…all of us!

Chapter 1 – Uncertainty

My spouse Pam and I played our first games of pickleball while we were on vacation at the Deep Canyon Tennis Club in Palm Desert, CA… I was the darkest colour of green you can imagine! I had never played racquet sports of any kind. Still,…we were going to be at our resort for a couple of months, and, we needed to find something to do to pass the time. On a whim we decided to try pickleball,….. it looked easier and less strenuous than tennis.

I tried to approach my introduction to the sport with an open mind, but,… after my first month of play, I was not exactly thrilled with the pickleball experience. The first problem I had was emotional….the PBers at Deep Canyon joked and laughed a lot with each other. I am rather shy by nature…. I wasn’t sure if I could fit in with this gregarious crowd.

The second problem was that I was a man…. As such, I had the common failing of our species….misplaced pride in my physical abilities. I thought that I would master a simple looking sport like pickleball in no time at all. Or at least put up a good show against the players that were much older and less fit than I was…..I was disappointed, ….. even the ’70-80 something’ players  had me running ‘willy-nilly’ around the court in hapless pursuit of the ball.

However, despite the difficulties, Pam and I continued going to the PB courts, and, by the end of our vacation, we were starting to get comfortable with the pickle people and the pickle game. We were quite busy with our small business when we returned to Victoria, so pickling got pushed to the background. One thing we did make time for though,….Andy and Cynthia’s beginners sessions at Commonwealth Rec. With their help, and the occasional drop-in play, I gradually started to improve my shot placement, but, I still had a major flaw in my game. I didn’t have a lot of time to address my  problem until Pam and I returned to our vacation spot down south. Our American friends were glad to see us again, and happy to help us with our play. My positioning on the court was not very effective. I was afraid of getting hit in the face with the ball and because of this I was spending too much time, ‘too far back’…. I needed to get to the 7’ line!

One suggestion I found helpful in this regard was to anticipate where the my opponent was going to hit the ball. The solution, I found, was to observe what direction the face of their paddle was pointed at before they slammed the ball at me. That way I had a better chance of blocking the ball before it broke my glasses.

I also learned something by watching a pickleball instruction video that our friends, Mel and Diane Hatton, let us borrow. There were very few teaching videos in those days. I have included the link below to one of these early videos that I found helpful:

Effective Volleying   by  Alan Christensen

By being incubated in the wonderful atmosphere of the Deep Canyon pickleball club  I made big improvements in my play. After three months I came back to Victoria rested, and,… with a different attitude towards the game. Pickleball was getting in my blood!

…..Coming soon: Chapter Two – Changing Everthing!





The Puppetmaster has retired from tournament play to spend more time at law school. I think he was, at least up until the last year or so, the best male doubles player in the world! If you don’t know his work, there are scads of videos of him playing on ‘you tube’. What made him good, in my opinion, was his ability to control the speed of the game, move his opponents out of position, then strike like a cobra with a kill shot. He also had a wonderful touch with his shots,…he could ‘bend it like Nelson’. He was my favourite player to watch, but, he was also a controversial figure….He could be arrogant and argumentative with his fellow players.

Here is the link to a lesser known video, showing a different, and more endearing side of Tim Nelson.

How to own a best man speech (Nelson wedding)

Good luck to Master Mouthpiece Nelson in his future endeavours…. Thanks for the games Tim.




Thanks to everyone who sent in their remarks about pickleball scheduling. I hope to have more to say on the subject next week. Hopefuly it will be good news for all us pickle fiends who are looking to advance the cause of Penultimate Picklelation at Pearkes.

Until next time, thanks for the game,

DJ Baker.



Below (for those ‘fans of the offcenter shot’) is the first part of a new flight of fancy.



Chapter One – Out On A Limb

  • Deep Dinker’s message to me – ”When I see something in a wee light…that’s exciting to me!…Jean gave me a brau kilt as a Christmas gift! We’re stayin oot at the grand hoose of the alien chaps’ in the Highlands,…..not much heather here, but a sight of broom bushes. Jean and I are quite fond of the land…She says mayhaps you should ‘come to tea’, well…that is if you can make time for us……McDeep.

I drove my virtual self out to see them on the afternoon of the 27th. Elvis and Yujoil were away at a the planet Zweegh celebrating Gynemoss, so Jean and Dalton had the whole place to themselves. They had been spending quite a bit of time together lately, and, I wondered if they might be in the early stages of a relationship.

I didn’t know how to feel about it, after all,…Jean was supposed to be ‘my’ genie….The only thing was,…’she’ had never done anything for me. That was probably my fault…Jean was much more worldly wise than I was….I hadn’t got around to asking her for a wish. Jean looked like a young beauty in her early twenties, but, in fact, she was over 1600 years old. The truth was,…I felt intimidated by her.

After I got to Yujoil’s place, I felt insecure and melancholy walking up to the back door. Jean opened it before I could knock. She appraised me cooly.

”So, Dawkless,” she said, ”have yeh come oot to spy on me and me brau lad?”

I was speechless…Jean noticed my face turning red with embarrassment. She began to twitter….I found my voice.

”If you two want to be alone,” I sputtered, ”then why did Dalton..” Jean took my arm and drew me forward.

”Shut your mouth now McLeod,” she said, ”I’m just having a wee sport with ya.” She hugged me, then she took my hand and guided me into the living area. McDeep was at the fireplace…stacking up some papers, kindling, and pine logs.

When I greeted him, he absently waved and said, ”I’m quite involved here Dewgie….Jean’ll keep your company ’till I get our blaze going.” Jean started twittering again. She motioned to me.

”This’ll take him awhile McLeod,” she said. ”You can help me with the women’s work.” I felt irked by her comment, but I dutifully followed my ‘genie’ into the kitchen. She started getting some tea ready, and told me where to find the tray and cups. After that we sat at the table and waited for the water to boil. That gave me a chance to confront her about something.

”Why do you call me McLeod,” I asked her, ”when you know Baker is my surname?”

”Your Grandpa William was a Scotsman,” she said sternly, ”William was a gud boy. We shared some ole times together. That Mcleod part of ya is the part to be proud of Dawkless.” Jean looked at me with a steady gaze until I looked away.

”I miss William,” she said softly.

I glanced at her shyly before looking down at the table.

”Did you love him,” I asked?…The kettle started to whistle. She hadn’t moved, so I got up and filled the teapot….There was silence in the room. I glanced at Jean and saw her wipe her eye. I felt a lump in my throat.

”Why did you make me up,” she asked me angrily? I didn’t answer right away and she started to rant.

”You don’t know anything aboot your grandpa,” she said, ”and you don’t know anything aboot me!”

”Mr. Dawkless…the Pickle boy,” she said with a sneer, ”that’s what i’m going to call you…all you have in your head is vinegar and cucumbers. You made me a strong woman in your story, but you don’t have a clue aboot how to talk to me!”

Just then Dalton came into the kitchen. He put his hand on my shoulder and asked me to sit down. Then he went and sat by Jean.

”It’s alright Jean,” he said, ”Dewgie and me are going to patch up things few yeh.”

She looked from Dalton to me. He spoke gently to her until she had calmed down. By then the tea was strong and bitter, so he added some whiskey and honey to make it easier to sip. We went into the living room, sipped our drinks and chatted. Jean and Dalton looked so handsome snuggled together on the couch that I asked them if they would like to be a couple for the CC Valentine’s Day edition in Febuary. Dalton looked pleased, but Jean frowned at me and McDeep.

”Love is easy for boys,” she said, ”but I bet you something Dalton……Dawkless here couldn’t get his ‘genie’ to be in love with anyone.”

Her remark offended me,….I decided to take her up on the bet.

”Well Dewgie, that should be a rip of a tale,” said Dalton! ”The only way that Jean can love someone is to find the Djinn that put her in the lamp to start with.”

My mouth dropped open….I didn’t know about that part…. Jean looked at me with her dark blue eyes.

”Love is easy for everyone,” she said with infinite sadness, ”but not for me….It’s all I want,”just to be able to love, but,’s all a dream…I’m cursed….no one can give that wish to me.”

She got up off the couch and announced she was going upstairs. She said she wanted to be in her lamp. As Jean walked by me she touched my forehead and I felt instantly sober. I said goodnight to McDeep and went out to my truck. I saw things too clearly….Even with the heater on full power, I was cold on the drive home. I couldn’t forget….nothing was more chilling than the look of hopelessness I had seen in Jean’s eyes.

…..Coming in Febuary (or sooner) Chapter Two of  ‘A courtly Love’.






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