A pox on pickleball in Cayucos

January 23, 2022

Dell Franklin

Editor’s Note: The following series, “Life in Radically Gentrifying Cayucos by the Sea,” to be posted biweekly includes the notes, thoughts, and opinions of an original American voice: author Dell Franklin. 

Franklin’s memoir, “Life On The Mississippi, 1969,” is currently on Amazon.


Tennis players who know I play tennis have, over the past few years, been asking me with eager expectation and excitement in their eyes (like cult members exalting their new god and selling it door to door) if I’ve converted to pickleball yet, because it’s obvious I’m old and slowed down and perhaps too physically fragile to play singles tennis or nonstop rallying in my late, late 70s. I always snarl at them and exclaim, “A pox on pickleball! It’s a desecration of tennis and I won’t be a party to it under any circumstances.”

They’re usually shocked, but not too shocked, because they know where I stand as a self-righteous tennis snob of sorts, though certainly not a country club type, oh no.

This guy Reed, who is a decade or so younger than me, and in his time was a better tennis player than me and played in junior college, said, “I don’t play tennis anymore. My knees, plantar fasciitis, my shoulder, they all feel better, and pickleball’s just as good a workout as singles tennis.”

“Bullshit. It’s mostly doubles, right?”

“Yes, but very competitive. You should try it. You’ll like it. It’s up your alley.”

“It looks to be like a bigger version of ping-pong, using those paddles.”

“Look, I can send you YouTube videos of singles pickleball, and I play that too, twice a week, with some really good players, and believe me, it is every bit the workout I got in singles tennis.”

“Not if you run everything down rallying, and keep a rally going ten, fifteen, twenty straight hits, until you’re out of breath. No way. Pickleball’s the easy way out for guys with braces on all their joints, like the walking wounded.”

(I refuse to wear braces but I do take Ibuprofen before playing.)

This Reed guy, like almost everybody I’ve ever encountered on tennis courts in Cayucos and Morro Bay, and that includes a lot of really talented women, is a professional person, highly accomplished and as kindly and well-meaning a human as exists, was starting to display frustration, especially since he wore knee and elbow braces when he played. Me, I’m a hacker, a baseball/basketball player who picked it up at around 30 and never had a lesson.

“I’m not going to try and convert you, Dell,” he finally said, taking the high road. “I just thought with your talents, the way you move, it’s the perfect game for you.”

Of course, I let it drop, but still, other converts have plagued me these past few years, constantly raving about how great pickleball is, how addictive it is. And what I’ve also noticed is that because of this popularity of pickleball, when I drive past the courts in Cayucos, I seldom see tennis players any more, but instead, pickle ball games going on, always doubles, with a lot of women and men playing mixed doubles; and several players sitting around in deck chairs sharing the morning or afternoon and having a fun time while waiting their turns because I hear that those sitting around are guaranteed to get their chance to play after two games, whether a duo has won two straight or not, which is so fair and civilized and considerate, a genuine show of sporting etiquette, though the games do appear competitive, I admit.

Also, when playing mornings with either of my two partners, we always have to bring a wrench and lift the net because the very fair and civilized and considerate and mannerly pickleball players lower the net for pickleball specifications and leave it that way because I guess they feel nobody plays tennis anymore and the chalked up courts belong to them these days.

Some people I talk to who used to play tennis and now play only pickleball, act like this game is taking over the world. But, to me, as long as I can stand and move—and I just played full court singles nonstop rallying for 40 minutes 76 days after getting a hip replacement against a partner who had a knee replacement six months ago—there is no feeling like engaging in what seems an endless rally, where you focus so intently you return one clean fluid shot after another from both sides, clicking into an unexplainable groove of white-heat rhythm and timing, and scramble like a madman after balls you’d normally give up on to keep the rally going, and start to feel your legs give way and your lungs about to burst, but keep scrambling and returning and huffing and puffing until at last, maybe after fifty or so balls between you, somebody flubs and you bend over at the knees, wheezing and gasping and look across the net and nod and say, “Great rally, man. That was fun.”

“Great rally.”

A pox on pickleball!

PS. Down at the Cayucos courts this morning, before my friend Keith and I began to hit, we discovered on the fence an invitation by the county for those using the courts to comment on the prospect of “shading” the courts to pickleball specifications, which means the pickleball mob of San Luis Obispo county is running out of room and have obviously inspected Cayucos for their next invasion, and will obviously worm their way into taking it over if they can. My guess is they have the influence to do so, because, like attrition, they are eliminating tennis players right and left with their paddles and whiffleballs and are organized like the proselytizing cult they are.

Any tennis players out there? If so, call (805) 781-5209 to protest this unholy infestation!


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George Garrigues

It’s shady all right. C’mon, PICKLE-ball? Whussat? Sounds sour.

kevin rise

You could spend money on pickleball BS towards social services vs catering to rich people geriatric hobbies. The name of this “sport” is as silly as the money spent. Why not build this in their backyard vs wasting taxpayers space. Tennis is racist after all. And always has been, a disgusting sport like most, especially golf. Sports are the epitamy of a failed civilization like a Roman Empire burning. Foot ball and suicide, hm. Isn’t there a now mentally retarded student from Templeton who was hit too hard for pleasure of viewers, a local who gained attention? Forgot about him? Dell, rip that sign down. I’ll help sign a petition to get that crap out of here.

Camus Redux

It’s a recreational sport – not a spectator sport. Did you know that badminton is the most popular recreational sport in the world? Why not badminton? The Chinese do it and you don’t need a court to bounce the ball on. Because there is no ball. There is a birdie.

Camus Redux

I’m a pretty good dodgeball player.


Pickleballers unite. Let’s ruin this old farts tennis courts.