About a year ago I picked up a pickleball paddle for the first time without any knowledge of the game. I filled in for some drills and pickup games the day before the Founder’s Tournament on Bainbridge Island. When I played my first games, I scrambled around the court and lost every match closely.
Since then, I have had my ups and downs playing pickleball. I tried to go to Battle Point Park or Bainbridge Island Recreation Center two to three times a week after catching the bug.
Throughout the year, I began pushing myself to a 3.5 level and playing against many 4.0 players. So, when my dad asked me to play in a 3.0 tournament recently while on vacation back in my hometown of the Bay Area, I thought it would be a breeze. I had a goal of giving up less than 50 points throughout the 10 sets we would play in our round-robin tourney.
However, the script flipped 180 degrees when the first match started. A problem I always have had when I played golf, wrestling or pickleball is I would fail miserably with all eyes on me most of the time. My dad and I never lost a recreational match together in about 20 games. Yet, we went 0-4 with a point differential of -64 in this tournament.
The most points we scored in one set was five, which is sad. It was a humbling experience. The worst part was the competition wasn’t even as good as what I’m used to on BI. I just did not play well, which led to my dad not playing well, either, I supposed.
I’m not proud of my behavior either, which would not have been put up with on BI. The tension built up made me lose my cool many times, including throwing the paddle a couple of times and breaking it, too. Many of my shots went past the boundaries and hit the fence.
I tried to bend the rules, too, playing with headphones and listening to music to try to relax me. I would also stop play and slow down the pace, which worked at moments. However, nothing went smoothly. My back began to tighten, my calves cramped, my body was tired and my mind was lost.
Coming into the final match, we played two men who I would rate around the 2.0-2.5 level. They struggled to chase balls, smash lobs and keep a consistent rally alive. Therefore, I told my dad if we lost, I am quitting on the spot.
As we were down 10-2 in the second set, I told him it was over, smashed the paddle, and hit the ball out of play.
So, after a year of playing pickleball, my short career is on the brink of ending. The sport began as a blast when I first started but the tournament style of pickleball destroyed my love of the game and has taken me away from the sport indefinitely.