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Murmurs from the Losers’ Bracket: Losing with Style

Murmurs from the Losers' Bracket Frank Cerabino 10-02-2023

We here at Murmurs from the Losers’ Bracket have found it important to exhibit grace in defeat.

Let’s face it, we get a lot of practice doing it.  And in the end, if you’re playing rec-level pickleball, the score’s not important, anyway.

All that matters is whether or not you’re having a good time.

So, let’s say you and your doubles partner are losing 10-2 or something in that neighborhood. It’s the leading team’s serve, and your prospect of winning seems bleak. 

What I like to do at this point is to put up a hand, temporarily stopping the other team from serving, and to announce to them across the court:

“You’ve got to win by two.”

It’s important to deliver this line with a straight face. Chances are, they’ll be confused. 


“You’ve got to win by two,” I’ll say again. “Just saying. You know. In case.”

Sure, they’ll think you’re a complete nutter. 

But if you’re lucky, this will make them so bewildered that they’ll lose service without winning the final point, and give you and your partner a chance to beat them 12-10. 

When I say “lucky”, I would just add that this has never happened to me yet. But it doesn’t mean I’m going to stop from trying. 

If nothing else, auditioning a little gallows humor on the pickleball court when you’re about to be slaughtered sets the stage for smiles during the upcoming paddle tap. 

And that’s always worth a go.

“We had you just where we wanted you,” I might say after losing one of those 11-2 matches, “but then I briefly lost my concentration for the last 15 minutes of the game.”

Winners of a lopsided game also should try out some lines to show just how little it really means to win a rec-level game of pickleball.

Murmurs from the Losers’ Bracket: Losing with Style

Nothing says “we slaughtered you” more than when players on the winning team tell you, “We had some nice rallies in that game.”

The understated subtext of that remark is … “and we won just about all of them.”

So, in those rare times I’m on the winning side of lopsided games, I might tell the losing team, “Nice run at the end. I thought you had us cooked,” even if it’s just that they scored two late points to lose 11-4 instead of 11-2.

Remember, it’s not whether you lose, it’s how you lose. So, chin up.

Or maybe take heart in the words of the great football coach Vince Lombardi, who put it this way: 

“We didn’t lose the game; we just ran out of time.”


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