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Saying Hello and Goodbye

Maybe it’s just me, but I believe enthusiastically saying “Hello” and “Goodbye” to people as they come and go from recreational pickup games can be very important.

There are pickleball players, especially among the older crew, who have very few friends. Maybe they’ve even lost a spouse. Something as simple as acknowledging them when they come to play pickleball can brighten their days.

It is also important to be careful not to look down on them if they don’t play as well as you, or if they have a personality you don’t like. For instance, there are people with regional accents that I find hard to handle. I want to think these people are stupid, or eccentric in unacceptable ways. However, I’m making an effort to let them be friends. I want them to be people I can admire. So, when I get a chance, I ask them about their families, their careers, whatever interests them. And sure enough, my opinion of them brightens.

One guy really rubbed me the wrong way. Just looking at him bothered me. Then we got to talking, and I found out he and I had been in the same business several years ago. Suddenly, he felt like a good friend.

What about unskilled players? It is so easy to look down on someone who swings and misses, or pops every ball. I believe I should still congratulate them when they make a good shot, even if it was just lucky. To see them smile with pride really makes my own day!

Avoid criticism. It can just devastate people, especially shy ones, if you tell them that their backhand is no good, or that they always serve too short, or they’ve got to quit popping the ball. Just let it be. They’ll learn eventually. It is not your job to coach them, unless they ask for it.

Finally, we need to take into account the sexual component. It is possible to acknowledge someone who starts to find you attractive. If a relationship with that person is not something you want, you do have to keep up your guard and let him or her know that you’re married, uninterested, etc, as soon as you see trouble brewing, and yet be careful not to deflate them too much. You still want them to feel accepted and happy.

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Monsour Bahrami

This is about a tennis player, but I believe as a pickleballer you’ll appreciate the similarities. Monsour Bahrami is who I want to be when I grow up, except for in the sport of pickleball.

Monsour Bahrami was 67 years old when this was filmed. As a child growing up in Iran, he was intrigued with tennis at an early age. However, he was not allowed to have a real tennis until he was 13 years old. Until then, he made do with frying pans and other household items.

Due to extremist views that regarded tennis as a capitalist pursuit in Iran, Monsour had to move to France where he went broke trying to be a serious tennis competitor.

At one point while trying desperately to make ends meet, he bet his entire winnings from a recent tournament in a casino and lost everything.

For a while, Mr. Bahrami was homeless in the streets of Paris until his reputation as a tennis trick shot expert and entertainer started to catch on.

He is also a champion backgammon player.

Your author has been working on some pickleball tricks. So far, I have put together a few serves:

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by Jeff Napier

Wham! My truck was just sitting at a red light, waiting to turn left. A drunken fool careened around the corner at a high rate of speed. Watching in horror, there was nothing I could do. He hit the bumper of my truck, spun around, and hit a parked car. Fortunately, no one was hurt, but that wrecked my lifelong plan.

Coming from the wrong side of the tracks and raised by a single mother, poverty was no stranger. Not only that, but my grandparents never had any money. I was going to break the cycle. In my last years of high school, I looked around for a job. What could a black girl without the means of a college education do? Because of details in my mother’s past and her remarkably low credit score, a student loan was not possible.

I could become a hairdresser but that really wasn’t my thing. How about a massage practitioner? Maybe get a job at a hotel? No, not for me. One day it occurred to me that driving a truck might be nice.

That was it! That was something I could do and it would get me out of the projects. For those who don’t know, that’s the ghetto, the worst of the ghetto. I’d wanted to get way out. Like, what if I could get one of those jobs where I’m driving all over the country? How cool is that?

But there was a roadblock. Truck driving school. There was no money. Practically in tears for days, it hadn’t occurred to me that one didn’t have to start out with a big truck. What about driving for Uber? No, that wouldn’t work because I didn’t have a car. Maybe driving a delivery van for Amazon? Maybe after doing some sort of delivery work for a while, I would have the money to go to trucking school.

It turned out that getting a job with Amazon was ridiculously easy. It paid really well too, or at least for a girl like me, allowing me to start saving for driving school. It took me nearly a year, since my brother stole my savings for his drug habit about six months in.

Let me tell you, hopping in and out of a truck fifty times a day with packages is strenuous work. And people with their dogs. Some people just don’t control them! I still have a little scar on my thigh. But it was a job, and it fit a plan. I stuck with it.

Well, eventually I did learn to drive a big truck. My first real trucking job was a ten-wheeler dump truck. Even though it was just back and forth from a quarry to construction sites, it made me happy, and it was making good money.

In time, my dream job came along, commanding an 18-wheeler. I just loved double-clutching and floating the gears with that 13-speed Spicer transmission. Sitting high up over all the other traffic was a delight. And, what a kick, traveling in these United States of ours. The windshield was like a peaceful, never-ending movie. Even the rattly, throaty sounds of a big diesel engine was enjoyable. I was in heaven.

Until that drunk bent my bumper. You’d think that would be a minor thing, but here’s what happened. The company fired me instantly. It seems if you’ve been in an accident that involves two or more other vehicles, that’s their policy. It didn’t matter that the truck was completely stopped, the drunk hit me, then smashed into a parked car.

Worse, a couple of minutes after the crash, a cop showed up on the scene and gave me a ticket. Yes, a ticket for forgetting to turn on my emergency flashers. Can you believe it? OK, so the police officer was white, and I’m black. Well, I don’t want to think about that.

So, guess what? You can’t get hired as a trucker with a recent violation.

Days of unemployment turned into weeks and then into months. All the beautiful money in my savings account was gone. I had been so proud of the used Toyota Camry I recently purchased. but had to sell it. Sure, it was ten years old, but it was MY car!

My addict brother came through for me for once, and gave me some money for groceries. Then, he tried to convince me I could make some money by selling drugs. Yeah, right, like I’d ever do that. I’d rather literally die of poverty.

A food stamps application was in process. The rent was overdue so next was going to be moving back in with Mom. And here I thought I could get out of the projects. Well, the joke was on me and I started crying once again.

Checking the Internet daily for driving jobs, at that point, anything would do. Even if I could get the Amazon job back, that would have been a big relief.

On the worst day of my life, when it seemed every door had closed, I came across a funny little ad on Craigslist. Some guy wanted someone who was familiar with driving big vehicles, but could also cook and do ‘light domestic chores.’ Weird, eh?

In fact it was kind of spooky. What was up with that? Maybe it was about driving a truck full of household or kitchen product samples, and demonstrating them. I didn’t even want to think of other possibilities. If things had been different, I’d never answer such an ad.

The guy wrote back. Once he told me the details, I felt sick to my stomach. This guys was definitely a creep.

He said he had purchased a big diesel motorhome because he was some sort of pickleball player, whatever that was. He said he drove his motorhome once, immediately tore off the air horn under a low-hanging branch and that driving it scared him. He wanted someone to drive it so he could go to pickleball events all over the country. He wanted the driver to make him meals, keep the motorhome clean, wash his clothes, and so on. Sort of a rolling butler.

Yeah, so what else did he want? This was horrible. But at that point, any job was better than no job. So, I took the bus and walked a mile to his place in the hot afternoon sun for an interview.

There was fear about going into his house, but what could I do? I was thinking once I was inside, he could do anything. It was a big house, out in the Brighton neighborhood. He obviously had a dollar or two.

For a white guy, he was pretty good-looking. He did have a nice smile. Sparkly eyes, too. When emailing with him, it seemed like he might be some 50-year-old masher, but no, he was only one year older than me.

Well, we got to talking, and it wasn’t horrible. In fact, we talked over an hour, and I was actually starting to believe this guy could be OK. We walked back behind his house, and there was his motorhome. It was a big, tall, 40-foot long, shiny diesel beauty built on a Freightliner chassis. It was no tractor-trailer but I wouldn’t mind driving that thing, even if it did have an automatic transmission.

He told me a little about this pickleball stuff. He said it was like a cross between ping-pong and tennis. It didn’t sound very interesting to me, but you know how people are. They take an interest in something like tropical fish or rollerblading and they become obsessed.

As evening was approaching we worked out that I’d drive just him once, to a pickleball tournament near Chicago, a three-day trip starting two days from then. After making it clear that there was to be no funny business, I foolishly believed that he would be a gentleman. Maybe it’s because I needed the job so badly. Still, all I was promising was this one drive to Chicago.

I had to catch the last bus home. He got a funny look on his face, like, he understood my situation even though I hadn’t really told him the details. He said, “Why don’t you drive the motorhome to your place then bring it back the day after tomorrow?”

“Oh, I couldn’t.”

Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out his wallet. Thinking he was going to give me his business card or something, he handed me four $100 bills. “Here, take the motorhome, get yourself a nice meal, then fill it with organic groceries tomorrow. Oh, and keep the change.”

We were standing in the motorhome at the time. Something went wrong. My eyes filled with tears, my knees felt weak, causing me to slump down onto a sofa, crying my eyes out. He sat next to me, tentatively put one arm around me and patiently waited until I could speak.

“I know, I know,” is all he said.

We did go to Chicago. The drive was pleasant. He sat in the passenger seat most of the time. We talked, but it was all pleasant surface stuff. Nothing deep. I was supposed to be doing his domestic chores, but on that drive, he made me sandwiches and seemed attentive to my every need. He did spend way too much time explaining pickleball to me. I didn’t get it. Why would anyone want to play something that was like tennis, but it wasn’t tennis?

On the way, we stopped at RV campgrounds. I had never done anything like that before, having to learn about hooking up the electricity, water hose, and all that. Oh, you should have seen the mess I made while disconnecting the sewer hose the next morning.

What about sleeping arrangements, you ask? True to his word, Jimmy was a real gentleman. He had a bedroom in the back of the rig. It had a full queen-size bed. He showed me how a sofa pulls out in the front, handed me some sheets, blankets and pillows out of a cabinet, then went into his back bedroom and closed the door.

When we arrived at the tournament, he introduced me to a bunch of other pickleball players as his driver. If any of them raised eyebrows, I didn’t see it. I returned to the motorhome and tidied up while he got ready for his first game.

Coming back out to watch, I didn’t really understand the game. It had a weird scoring system with three parts like “four-seven-two.” He and a partner lost badly, that much was clear. It didn’t seem to phase him, he was smiling as much after the game as before. He was likeable, but he was a weirdo.

That job lasted well over a year, until things changed which you’ll find out about in a minute. He found tournaments from east coast to west, although mostly sticking to Southern California that winter. Even though he wasn’t a very good player, he was so affable. Everyone loved Jim.

Details slowly became clear. It seems Jim had gone to college for software engineering. While still a student he built a small, social media website competing in a minor way with the likes of Facebook and Twitter. To everyone’s surprise, including his own, Meta, the company that includes Facebook, bought his little website for many millions of dollars. He retired at age 22. Except he didn’t really retire. He kind of brokers websites by other developers, and somehow continues to make more money.

In time, Jimmy got me out on a pickleball court. I was terrible at it, literally swinging and entirely missing the ball a few times. At one point I fell and scraped a knee. But we and a couple of other players were laughing, and carrying on, and having a good time. Pickleball wasn’t awful. In fact it was kind of fun, and wouldn’t you know, I started playing it regularly?

I became Jimmy’s doubles partner. Truth be told, I’m better at it than he is. He doesn’t seem to mind one bit. Among our many tournaments around the country, Jimmy also visited with coaches, and he became a better player, but still, he doesn’t have what you might call natural ability. But mostly, we play. We play just recreational games with other people, but also at the tournaments. We seldom win, but we always have fun.

I still love driving. He and will sit up in the front of the motorhome just discussing anything and everything as the miles roll by. We’ll see mountains and fields, ponds and rivers, people here, and people there. When we get to our destinations, we’ll go to museums and tourist attractions. We’ll visit with pickleball players in their homes. It’s a wonderful life.

Now, I love pickleball as much as Jim does.

And, I love Jim as much as pickleball. More. We innocently kissed a few times during the past couple of months, and last Friday, that kissing really turned into something. For the first time, I slept in the bed in the back of the motorhome, not on the pull-out sofa.

Recent news:

We were married in February. We’ve been discussing the possibility of raising children on the road in our motorhome.

Jimmy’s motorhome

The author’s motorhome

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Longest Rally

Your author was very proud of having rallied for 235 hits with Robert Thomas a trainer of pickleball referees. It turns out that was nothing compared to an official Guinness record set by identical twin brothers Angelo and Ettore Rossetti. Their rally was much longer. How long, you ask? Was it

a) 517 hits?

b) 2024 hits?

c) 2037 hits?

d) none of the above?

OK, here you go: On October 10, 2021, in a continuous rally lasting 6 hours and 11 minutes, they hit the ball back and forth… Are you ready for this? 16,046 times.

They also established a record in 2008, since broken, for longest tennis rally, which consisted entirely of volleys, lasting 25,955 hits. At that point, one of the brothers, and we don’t know if it was Ettore or Angelo, hit the net.

The picture above was taken shortly after their 15,000th hit.

Don’t believe it’s possible? You can watch the whole six hours and eleven minutes here:

Your author left this running in the background for a while and found the sound soothing, almost hypnotic.

If you were tasked with breaking a world record like this, what would you do?

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Kyle Lewis Interview

Kyle is a Pro Pickleball Player Ranked #23 in the World

Kyle Lewis at

What do you like about pickleball?

It’s amazing to me how fun pickleball is and how social/inclusive it is. I’ve seen hundreds of people playing pickleball that otherwise wouldn’t be outside exercising with friends and family.

For me personally, it’s been a new and exciting challenge to switch from high level tennis to a new sport and see how far I can go with it. Pro pickleball is growing so quickly and no one really knows where it will end up, even in just a few years. It’s just really fun to be a part of something like that.

What got you interested in pickleball?

At 26, I started training again for pro tennis and was going to give it one more shot. Then, Covid happened and all tennis tournaments were shut down. Apparently, the government didn’t know they should also shut down pickleball tournaments, so I entered a few during that time and realized there might be an easier pathway to playing pro and making a living at it than in tennis.

What did you do before pickleball?

I lived at a tennis academy when I was 19 and played tournaments for a few years up and down California. My highest ranking was about 58 in California in tennis. At 23, I started coaching tennis in Santa Monica, California.

Where did you grow up? What was your life like as a child?

I grew up in Santa Barbara and had a pretty fun, activity filled childhood. I played a lot of tennis and went to the beach often.

What do you like about singles as opposed to doubles?

Singles is much closer to tennis in my opinion, so I’ve had more early success on the singles side with a ranking of around #20 on the PPA tour for the last couple years. My doubles is catching up now that I’ve been playing pickleball for nearly 3.5 years. Doubles has a lot more strategy and touch shots, whereas singles tends to be more power with shorter points.

What problems have you encountered as a pro player, with pickleball players, or pickleball in general?

With such a new sport, there have been several “growing pains” from the pickleball tours, but overall, it’s been a fairly smooth ride. On the player side, there can be some cheating here and there because players make their own line calls, and referees tend to watch the kitchen line for foot faults more than the ball. This seems to be getting resolved with video replay in the finals, two referees in bigger matches, etc.

Have you had anything unusual happen at a match?

Several times! Wind so strong the ball goes sideways, balls melting because it’s so hot, heated moments with other players who were cheating, and many more.

Kyle’s pickleball website is

Kyle is now also designing Shopify stores for pickleball companies and other small businesses. You can reach Kyle through Tell him Jeff sent you!

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Krishna’s Amazing Pickleball Trip To India

Between January 18 – 24, 2024, Krishna Raichura, founder of Pickleball Organized is going to host up to 16 pickleball players on a special trip to India.

“As we journey through this amazing country, we will have professional pickleball clinics and play almost every day. Our adventure will take us to the exotic cities of Mumbai, Goa, Jaipur and Agra. This is a very special trip for Krishna as she gets to share her heritage and culture with her students and friends!”

I hope you can join her tour!

Here are the details: