My last blog post focused on the best pickleball players in the world.
This blog post will focus on those of us who are definitely not the best pickleball players.
The best pro pickleball players are all rated 5.0. Most of my friends who play are 3.0 and 3.5 players. Once in awhile a 4.0 will join us.
I just have to share with you what may be the most memorable series of three games in my pickleball career.
I realize that what I am about to share with you is not really worthy of mention to anyone except myself and my doubles partner. Nevertheless, I just can’t keep the story inside.
A little background is necessary. Let me set the stage for this drama. In August, just three months ago, my two best friends from childhood, Phil and Clipper, were in Seattle at the same time. Both Phil and Clipper are very good tennis players and very decent pickleball players. They very much wanted to play pickleball and they challenged myself and Phil’s wife Lucy to a match. They were very animated and excited about the opportunity to win and to win big. Frankly, they wanted to demolish Lucy and me in pickleball.
We found a public court to play on in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle. After warming up, it was clear to me and Lucy that Phil and Clipper really wanted to win. Lucy and I touched our paddles together, in solidarity that we can do this. We can withstand the onslaught from these two determined “friends,” we thought to ourselves.
The first game we were getting beaten badly. We were down 7-0. 11 wins the game. But we fought back, one point at a time. We ended up winning the game 11-8. Amazing. What a comeback.
After getting a little bit of water, we started game number 2. This game we were leading throughout the entire game, ending up winning 11-7.
Lucy and I have won two games! Phil and Clipper are not happy. In fact they are really determined to show us who are the dominant players on the pickleball court. Game 3, our final game, coming up.
They are determined! Yes, indeed. Their play becomes very good. They win point after point. They are pumped. They begin to pull way ahead in the third game. 3-0. Then 5-0. 6-1. Their great play continues until they get to 10-1. Lucy and I are getting a thumping. We are getting beat badly.
But we don’t give up. No, sir. Down 10-1, we serve and get another point. It is now 10-2. The next serve leads to a long rally with their last shot going wide. The score is now 10-3. The next serve ends up with us being able to slam the ball at an angle that is impossible to return. Now we are at 10-4.
Looking across the net at Phil and Clipper, it looks to us that they are beginning to tighten up a little bit, beginning to get a little bit concerned. Or so it seemed to us.
We, on the other hand, are beginning to feel that we are in a groove. We are on the balls of our feet. We can’t wait for the next serve.
At 10-4, we serve again. This time the serve handcuffs them and then can’t get the ball back across the net. Point to Lucy and me. Now it is 10-5.
We have won 4 points in a row. We serve again, they return it, we volley back and forth, but end up placing a volley that they cannot reach. Now the score is 10-6.
We serve again and again and again. We win the next point. 10-7. We win the next point. 10-8. We win the next point. 10-9.
As we look across the net to Phil and Clipper we could see that their shoulders are slumped. They can’t believe what is happening here. They are really down, demoralized. We can see it on their faces and with their body language.
At 10-9, we serve again. Amazingly, we win the point. All of a sudden it is 10-10. Holy cow. We have tied the game, when we were behind 10-1. Unbelievable.
In pickleball you have to win a game by two points. So, we continue to serve at 10-10. We have not lost our serve for 9 straight points. We serve and after a long rally their ball goes outside the line for our point. Now it is 11-10 in our favor.
Even though we are at a public court in the middle of the afternoon, at this time you could hear a pin drop. Total silence as everyone is focused on this next serve. could we do it. could we come back from being down 10-1, and win 11 straight points to win the game and sweep the three game series. Could we do it?
Yes, indeed. We serve and win the next point, capping an amazing comeback. We win the game 12-10. This is tied with others as the second greatest comeback in the 57 year history of pickleball. Down 10-1, and winning 11 straight points to win 12-10.
What a great victory. Lucy and I are so excited, delirious, in disbelief. Phil and Clipper are totally beaten, down, demoralized, wondering what happened to them. they can’t believe it.
So, how does one memorialize this great victory?
Bottom line, such a victory should be remembered and celebrated. It is not often that 3.0 and 3.5 players can host a trophy.
That is particularly true for yours truly. Over the years I have entered three sanctioned Pickleball Tournaments, only to lose in the first round in each case. I and my doubles partner have never won a match in a sanctioned tournament. In fact, I and my doubles partner have never won a game in the best of three match.
So, I thought that Lucy and I should not let this amazing three game victory go without in some way of acknowledging it. even if it is a modest way of acknowledging it, it needs to be acknowledged, I thought to myself.
I stopped at an athletic supply and trophy store to see what they could do that would be a suitable, but modest way of memorializing our victory.
Here is what we ended up with. It is only 3’ tall. It is not real gold, just looks that way. The title of the trophy is Worldwide Pickleball Champions. And engraved on it are Lucy and Neil, August 2022. Modest for sure.
The idea is that this trophy will be like hockey’s Stanley Cup, where the winners get possession of the trophy for a few months during the year, and then it is transferred to the other winner. I have had the honor of keeping the trophy for the first few months, and it will be in Lucy’s hands beginning in March for several months.
I am sure you will agree with me that it is important to acknowledge, memorialize and honor winners from time to time.
8 thoughts on “One of My Most Memorable Pickleball Games”
Bravo! A mail biter for certain. And be sure to handle the trophy with white gloves
And every word is true!
Great story Neil!
Congrats to Lucy and you.
But poor, poor Clip. I feel his pain and hope this doesn’t make him grumpy (or grumpier).
you are right. here i am thinking about my own mental health — i.e., i need to tell this story — and forgetting the impact this could have on the mental health of Clipper and Phil. of my goodness. what to do? if i was physically next to either one of them right now i would give them a big hug, and i would whisper in their ear that i love them.
I f Lucy reinforces your view of the match it must be a conspiracy, apolitical of course.
Another example of why sports are so engaging.
Great story and wonderful perseverance.