VIP Cubed

He’s a Vancouver Island Pickleballer…He’s a Vitally Important Picklehead because of his vipa  website and his work as host of the Island Championships…He’s also a good player and a Very Interesting Person…let’s hear his story:


1. How old are you Ken?

  • Well, I’m certainly ‘over the hill’, which means I should be starting to pick up speed.

2. Where did you grow up?

  • Post war London, England until my late teens when I emigrated to Canada.

3. What’s your sports background?

  • My love affair with racquet sports started as a pre-teen playing table tennis. After I left England I didn’t pick up a table tennis bat again until 50 years later in a snowbird retirement community in Arizona. In between I played competitive badminton, opened a specialty racquet store in Victoria (Centre Court Racquets), learned to play tennis, eventually becoming a Tennis Canada certified instructor.

4. How did you discover pickleball?

  • In 2013 I was teaching table tennis at our local seniors centre and one of the players – Arlene Thorne – mentioned how much fun she was having playing pickleball. A few weeks later my wife (Claudia) and I were peering in the windows at the Ladysmith Recreation Centre; Arlene spotted us. She hooked us and reeled us in – it was love at first hit!

5. Where do you live when you’re on the Island?

  • After spending most of our working lives in Victoria, we ‘retired’ to Chemanius in 2008.

6. How’s the PB down at your snowbird home?

  • Two years ago the community we winter in (south of Tucson) installed 16 new pickleball courts – it is probably one of the nicest pickleball facilities in North America. We have been involved in helping the new club develop – I am the teaching professional – by putting on clinics, round-robins and encouraging participation in tournaments.

7. I love you VIPA website. Why did you decide to do this project?

  • This is a spillover from my table tennis days. When I started to play table tennis in Arizona I was impressed by their organization with respect to tournaments and league play. Coming back to the Island I was disappointed that nothing similar existed. I took the project on and started the Vancouver Island Table Tennis Association. A year or two on and we had two annual tournaments and about a dozen teams, from Victoria to Campbell River, competing in a 2-division league.
  • I felt that pickleball on the Island would benefit from some of my experiences in promoting table tennis. I approached some of the prominent players and they were supportive – the Vancouver Island Pickleball Association was born.

8. Can you tell us how your mid-island group got the designated PB courts at Fuller Lake?

  • This was accomplished before my time. An enthusiastic group of players, led by Arlene and Shirley & Marvin Moore, lobbied the municipality of North Cowichan to turn two underused and ageing tennis courts into pickleball courts. The municipality, to its credit, recognized the potential and put in 4 dedicated courts. It was an immediate success and the players wasted no time in sending praise and pictures to the municipality! A year or so later the municipality agreed to resurface the courts and at that time installed two extra courts. There are now 6 dedicated courts which during the summer months are bursting to the seams, attracting players from Victoria to Nanaimo!

9. Did you enjoy your role as the host of last years’ Vancouver Island Championships?

  • It was a lot of work but the players were so appreciative I think I have no option but to turn it into an annual event. I’m always looking for someone who may be ready, willing, and able to take over the reins!

10. Last question Ken,…since you recently won gold in men’s doubles in the 4.5 bracket, are you going to get bumped up to the 5.0 bracket?

  • Perhaps if I had started playing pickleball even 5 years ago I could aspire to reaching a 5.0 level. Now I fear time is my enemy. But if I can stay healthy you never know….

Thanks Ken for sharing your story. In my opinion, with all you have accomplished in life,  5.0 is a good possibility for you.

Ken’s website is a ‘must view’ for Island players or visitors to the rock:   The latest installment has a picture of Victorian Leslie Black. On the bottom of the page is the News page link with the story of Ken’s gold medal match with Rick Pokorski in Casa Grande.

Aug 6-7th, 2016 is the Vancouver Island Championships at Fuller Lake, Poplar Rd. , Chemanius….

If you want to go to the regular drop in sessions at Fuller Lake, they play there Mon, Wed, and Fri 9am-noon, with a ladder competition on Saturday mornings.


Pleasure Before Business

If you Google up the-   home page and scroll down to recent posts, there is an interview  about Wes Gabrielsen called  ‘A Champions Continuos Improvement’. This is an inspiring article about a great player who sees himself as an ordinary guy.

In honour of one of my fave players, here is a replay of his mixed doubles final match at last years’ Canadian Nationals at Kelowna. For those unfamiliar with him, he is the fellow with the beard. He’s playing with his pal Christine Barksdale. As always, if the link isn’t there when you receive this email look on my website for the video link.


Playing Puka Ball (and not getting sick)

Here is an interesting email from Sally Miles, a new subscriber from Lake Cowichan. She has a nice story about her adventures at a pickle paradise in Maui……

– Hi Doug…Just read my first edition of The Challenge Court and loved it. Thanks for contributing to the ”education” of those who are not familiar with our pickleball world…and what a fun world it is!

My name is Sally Miles and I have been playing in and around Lake Cowichan for a couple of years now and am HOOKED!! So Jan 2015 before we left on a trip to Maui, I googled for places to play there and came up empty! This year I tried again and ‘voila’, up came a website…

The hostess of the site, Laurie Loney, is just starting her venture, and through her, six of us PB fanatics spent an amazing afternoon playing our favourite sport in Paradise. It was in upcountry Maui, in a town called Kula, on an outdoor court in her yard. The court was surrounded by a grove of avocado, ilikoi, macadamia, and mandarin trees under a warm blue tropical sky and cooled by the trade winds! It doesn’t get much better than that!

It wasn’t long before I found more games being played on public tennis courts in Kehei. A fellow Canadian who winters there has a particular court that he chalks PB court lines on around the tennis court lines. It worked like a ‘hot damn’!

I found this interesting,….the locals call it Puka Ball. In Hawaiian, puka means hole and of course this describes our whiffle ball well. Hence, Puka Ball!…”Game point” is referred to as the ”aloha point”. All in all, it was a blast finding fellow Picklers, and next year when we arrive in beautiful Maui again, I’m sure there will be an even bigger presence of a sport that is finding it’s own life in many corners of the world…and growing bigger all the time!….Sally


Cucumber Vine – Miscellaneous Meditations, Missives, and Mishaps

-Here is an email from my pal Sabba Sall:

  • Well done Doug…Look forward to the news…..I for one would support a pickleball ”ladder” being developed in Victoria for those who want it. I believe it is one of the ways to improve so we can compete against players from Nanaimo, etc., who come to Victoria and kick our collective butts..we have to consistently play against better players than ourselves to learn our strengths and weaknesses…besides that I think people would really enjoy the challenge.

-Reply from me- Well said Sabba!…I think you bring up a topic that a lot of dedicated players have been thinking (and bitching) about. We need to find a place and time to get what we all need…. …advanced play and advanced competition on a regular basis.

-Rant of the Week…One of my pals said he wouldn’t be a facilitator because he ‘didn’t want people to dislike him’! I wouldn’t have taken the job if I thought my PB friends would resent me. Let’s work on self monitoring so we can keep the fun atmosphere at Pearkes Pickleball. We are all responsible for our own actions and there are rules to follow. Think twice about breaking the rules, and,… think twice about making a petty complaint about your fellow players. If you have a serious gripe then take it to Sadeep. He is trained, and ‘paid’ to handle your concerns. Just speak politely…think ‘thrice’ about losing your cool with him.

-Here are some good excuses for errant shots (courtesy of North Carolina PB travel site):

A. Partner issues- Yours!…You should have called that…I thought ‘you’ called that…You moved for it and faked me out….It was your forehand….You’ve been poaching everything else, I thought you were going after that one too.

B. Opponent issues- Your shirt (paddle) is so yellow I can’t see the ball coming off….Your serve is illegal (border line illegal)!…That last dink fest lulled me to sleep….That wasn’t even CLOSE to out. Do you need glasses?….Is that one of those illegal paddles?…..Are you head hunting? This is RECREATIONAL play!

C. Distractions- I stopped play, I thought someone said ‘ball on court’!…They were having such a good game next to us that I wound up watching their point!…..They (opponents, spectators, on the next court) were taking too loud…….I was admiring his cute shoes/her cute outfit…

D. Physical Issues- My back hurts today (substitute relevant body part)….I went to yoga this morning and I feel worse…..If I could only bend my knees….The ball hit my thumb….The shot hit my fat stomach…I lost the ball in the lights (glare, shadow, dark)….My pickleball hips emit pain signals before each shot I miss….

E. Paddle Issues- I caught the edge guard on my zipper…..The paddle hit my knee (foot or, more rarely, chin)…There’s a dead spot on this thing…The whole paddle just died……This grip is too (large, small, sticky, slick) and I need to change it….It’s a new paddle…..I hate myself for buying this paddle…I hit too (hard or soft) with this paddle….I’m a ‘feel’ player and this paddle hasn’t got any feel…..I can only (or can’t) play with a (graphite, composite face, composition face, composition core, aluminum core)…

F. Ball Issues- This stupid ball is cracked (out of round, bad)….The seam on the ball is impossible (too high, defective)….We need to replay the point – the ball is funny…This brand doesn’t bounce true (comes up too high)….

G. In Jest- The ball has a hole in it….The net is too (high or low) on our side…..Damn wind took it (said during indoor play)…..The gravity is higher on this side of the net….God doesn’t like pickleball…

-Send in your own excuses to me at:

-Have you noticed that pickle pros are getting younger?…In my next edition I will have an interview with a rising young tournament star….’Til then….

Thanks for the game,

DJ Baker.

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One Response to VIP Cubed

  1. Liz Everett says:

    Dear Doug:
    Thank you! Excellent interview and information! It’s amazing how this sport has flourished. Would you know why there are almost no pickle ball courts in Toronto?

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