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Learning to Play Singles

Posted on March 8, 2021 by under Hobbies.    

A couple of years after learning to play pickleball and playing mostly doubles, I finally learned to play singles. I generally didn’t play singles before because it’s too much work. You have to cover the entire court by yourself and, at first, it was just a lot chasing after the ball which made it not as much fun as playing doubles. However, after finding other people who know how to play singles and experiencing some really good singles rallies, I found it can be a lot of fun. Other reasons I like playing singles include not having to find a partner and it’s a great workout. I feel like a game of singles is almost as much workout as an entire hour of playing doubles in terms of effort.

My new found love for singles led me to joining my first singles pickleball league at Chicken N Pickle (it was also their first time offering it) and playing singles in a tournament. One of my goals for this year is learn how to play singles and get better at it. I’m happy to report that I’m making good progress.

The first ever singles league at Chicken N Pickle consisted of all levels from both genders. Out of the 14 players signed up, 6 were women and 8 were men. We all played one another regardless of gender during the regular session but were divided by gender on tournament night. The plan was to have the 8 guys play against each other and then the 6 women play against each other.

However, on the night of the tournament, a bunch of people were gone. I’m not sure what was going on with the men because only 4 or 5 guys showed up. In the women’s division — Greta was sick, Parrish was in Florida, Bayli forgot, and I’m not sure what happened to Barb. Since only Anna and I showed up for the tournament, we automatically got first and second.


I knew I didn’t stand a chance but we still played for it. We played a best 2 out of 3 (which surprisingly went to 3 games: 11-9, 9-11, and 11-6) and one game to 15 (Anna creamed me on this game).

You can watch our games (and some of the guys’ games) here:

I lost but I was super proud of myself for having enough energy to play all of those games because I’m usually done after a couple of games. I’ve often joked that, if I can’t win a match in two games, I will probably lose because I never have enough energy for a third game. I was also quite surprised that I was able to keep up with Anna because, being a former tennis player, she is amazing at singles. She did tell me afterwards that I was better than some of the guys that she’s played against in the league which was a huge compliment and almost a better reward than the gift card I won for being the default runner up.

Despite knowing that I only have stamina for a handful of games, I still signed up to play singles at the PPA tournament in Arizona. I mean, I was going all that way and it was only $15 more to enter so I figured I might as well.


I played five matches on my journey to silver. True to form, my matches consisted of only two games each time. I either won in two or lost in two — which was perfect for me because that’s really all the energy I can muster. We did take extra long timeouts, though. Pat (or of our pro friends) came and found my court and cheering section and totally made fun of our long timeouts which we completely abused. There wasn’t much talk about pickleball strategy during the timeouts. We talked about dinner, going to the lazy river, what we were wearing the next day — everything but. It was hilarious!

To be fair, I didn’t call the timeouts on most of these so I had to wait for the other player (who called the timeout) to say they were ready to resume. That’s a key difference between reffed games and not reffed games. When you don’t have a ref, no one is enforcing the clock (timeouts are only supposed to be 60 seconds in duration and then you have two-minute break when you change sides between games). I appreciated the longer break too so I didn’t complain. LOL.

Speaking of refs, I had my first experience with reffed matches in Arizona. It’s so different and helpful in some ways and not helpful in others. I learned so much. For instance, I learned that the ref can’t really help much with line calls. They’re really only calling the score, ensuring that you’re serving from the correct position (or you’re the correct server in doubles), and watching for foot faults. The don’t chime in on line calls unless they specifically saw the ball land and most of the time they’re not looking. It was a learning experience for me.


Anyway, I had a blast playing singles and even made a new friend. This is Jimena Monetti from Gilbert, Arizona. She took gold and I got silver. Coincidentally, I think we were the two oldest players in our division (I’m older than her) and we also play with the same paddle.

It’s interesting that I used to hate playing singles when I first started playing pickleball but now I’ve learned to love it. I signed up for singles league again this session and I can’t wait to play singles at my next tournament in Florida.

Until then. GNG.

Related Stories

  • Singles Tournament Night on April 30, 2021
  • Singles Tournament Results on February 26, 2021
  • Chicken N Pickle League Recap on June 18, 2021
  • Women’s Doubles Day on February 27, 2021
  • COVID Ruins Everything on December 24, 2020

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