Social play, aka rec or open play, is by far the most common type of pickleball that gets played.  Some people definitely get competitive about it, but even that is typically in an open-play environment.  Said another way, the number of high-level tournament players is quite small compared to the pickleball population.   And it makes total sense, because playing competitively takes a different mindset with different goals and actions than just another day at the park.

This story I’m about to relate happens to pretty much every high-level player out there, but it gets shared when it happens to a known entity.

I was on a trip to Bainbridge Island recently, and my son accompanied me.  (As did my doubles partner Jennifer Lucore, but that’s not really part of the story 😊)  One of the mornings we had about 90 minutes to kill, so my son (an athletic 4.25 player who is 6’ 5” tall) and I decided to go to the Founders Courts for my son to see and to play a little. The Founders Courts are in Battle Point Park with 6 dedicated courts and a few dual-use courts, and are called the Founders Courts because pickleball was invented on Bainbridge Island. Anway, we went and I was being “low-key” with my appearance. But someone recognized me, and then word spread that I was there so pictures started getting taken and all that.  We got on court with a couple players and my son and I split up since people wanted to be my partner. Playing with 3 or 4 different sets of people, we had some fun, created long rallies, set our partners up, and made sure the others had a good time.

Alex Hamner Pull Quote

One game my partner and I were ahead quite a bit, so I did my part to help my son’s partner hit some good shots.  They caught up and then the lead went back and forth a couple times, and my opponents ended up taking the game 14-12.  Lots of fun was had. We played another game with other people, then more pictures and hugs and all that took place, and it was time for us to go.

A couple days later we’re in town where the ferry docks and there’s various shops.  We went into several shops to check out their pickleball stuff (there’s some cute stuff there!) and while in one store talking to the owner the shop clerk said, “Wait, you’re Alex Hamner? You were at Battle Point the other day, right?” I answered affirmatively and asked how she knew that.  She replied, “A guy came in yesterday and said he beat you!” 


And that’s the problem with social play …. Be nice, play fair, and have it shared around town that a 3.5 beat you and your 3.0 partner.  At least he would hit me the ball– sometimes people beg to play with me and then don’t actually let me play!


Team Vulcan Pro Alex Hamner was inducted into the Pickleball Hall of Fame in 2020, noted for her 21 gold medals from USAPA Nationals, the US Open Pickleball Championships, and Tournament of Champions. She and her partner, Jennifer Lucore, have earned more gold medals than any other women in pickleball.

Older Post Newer Post


Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published