When you think of pickleball, the word “torture” probably doesn’t come to mind.
When I think of torture, some movie scenes come to mind.
There’s the one in Casino, where the gangster played by Joe Pesci puts a guy’s head in a vice and threatens to bust his head like a watermelon.
There’s that dentist office scene in the movie, Marathon Man, when the Dustin Hoffman character has his teeth demonically drilled by a Nazi dentist who keeps asking, “Is it safe?”
And in the Quentin Tarrantino movie, Reservoir Dogs, there was a particularly gory scene that featured “Mr. Blonde” using a straight razor to cut off the ear of a captive police officer.
Yikes. They’re all difficult to watch.
And so it’s hard to imagine that the friendly, charming game of pickleball can offer the kind of torture that is remotely in the league of these gut-wrenching scenes.
When I think of the words “pickleball” and “torture”, about the only thing that seems applicable is leading in a game 10-0, and then ending up losing 12-10 after a bunch of unforced errors.
Oh, the horror!
But then I read about a woman in the small Canadian town of Niagra-on-the-Lake, who has claimed in a court (of law) that she has been “tortured” by pickleball.
And she wasn’t talking about hitting easy smashes into the net.
Oana Scafesi bought a house across the street from the town’s public tennis center in 2012. Seven years later, the tennis courts were converted to pickleball.
And Scafesi claims that’s when the torture began.
“For the last three years, I have been tortured by a high noise produced by the pickleball players,” Scafesi testified in court, as reported by Yahoo! news.
“My life is not peaceful. It’s a tortured life.”
This isn’t the first time that someone living near pickleball courts has complained of the ambient sound of multiple paddles striking plastic pickleballs.
Some communities have responded by curtailing hours of play, putting up sound barriers, and in one New Jersey town, using a public employee to guard the courts so they remain empty beyond the allowable hours.
But Scafesi’s complaint is different. Not only is she claiming that pickleball “tortures” her when people are playing at the courts near her home. She is also saying that said pickleball is torturing her even when no pickleball is being played.
Yes, you heard that right. She’s being tortured by pickleball -- even when there’s no pickleball. Go figure.
Scafesi claims that she hears the thwacking of pickleballs in her head when the courts are quiet.
“It’s a serious thing when you hear things which are not real,” she said.
“I hear dead dinking …”
Usually, when pickleball players complain about hearing something that isn’t real, it’s when they complain that their opponents yell “out!” on a shot that appeared to be inbounds.
About 1 in 10 adults say that they sometimes hear voices in their heads.
But I don’t know of any other case of people claiming to hear pickleballs in their head.
I’ll admit, I have had pickleball dreams.
But they don’t last long. I usually hit the ball out after a short rally and then wake up trying to remember the score and whose turn it is to serve.
So far, Scafesi’s pickleball-torture claim has resulted in the temporary closing of the outdoor courts, driving the 240 members of the local pickleball club to be forced to play on indoor courts for at least the next couple of months.
Playing inside when you can be playing outside in Canada is, in a way, a kind of torture too, considering how few months a year the weather is mild enough to play outside there.
A judge is set to take up the matter again in mid-June. I’ll let you know if I hear anything… and by that, I don’t mean a ball in my head.
MURMURS FROM THE LOSERS' BRACKET
Read past editions of Murmurs from the Losers' Bracket, including:
- The Ozempic Ad
- Ball On Court? Maybe Not
- The PPA, the APP and Monty Python
- Time to Get Help at Bangers Anonymous
- "It's an Injury Sport"
- A Pickleball Translation Guide
- What's Your Pickleball Nickname?
- Tennis the Menace
Frank Cerabino is a long-time columnist for the Palm Beach Post in Florida, a pickleball addict like the rest of us, and a newly published author. Check out Frank's newly released book, I Dink, Therefore I Am: Coming to Grips with My Pickleball Addiction (available on Amazon and a great read (or gift!) for any pickleball player), for pickleball tips and laughs!