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Lob into the Sun? Maybe, Maybe Not

Murmurs from the Losers' Bracket Frank Cerabino 03-13-2024

Can’t we talk about lobbing into the sun? 

Or what we here at Murmurs from the Losers’ Bracket call “being a jerk.” 

Yes, I know. It’s part of the game. 

There was a now-infamous incident that happened two years ago in a professional women’s doubles match during a PPA tournament in Nevada.

The team of Yana Grechkina and Regina Franco-Goldberg employed a high lob strategy against the mother-daughter team of Leigh and Anna Leigh Waters that used the position of the sun as a weapon.

After fanning on two lobs into the sun, Leigh Waters approached the net to grouse about the blinding tactic. But her opponents didn’t meekly acquiesce. 

“A strategy is a strategy, calm down,” Grechkina yelled at Waters, then raised her arms in a motion to elicit support from the crowd.

There’s nothing in the rules about refraining from using the position of the sun to your advantage on the court. And we here at MFTLB concede that with prize money and rankings on the line, the standard for fair play at the pro level reasonably can be expected to be different than what goes on during recreational play.

Also, I think you’ll be able to imagine that there’s a difference in what’s OK in the rules, and what’s considered reasonable play in a no-stakes recreational-level game of pickleball. 

For example, there’s nothing that says how hard you can bash an overhead smash. But if you hit the ball as hard as you can at the body of a semi-defenseless, mediocre-level grandma standing 14 feet away, you may be within the rules, but outside the boundaries of good sportsmanship at the same time.

Which brings us back to lobbing into the sun. I guess I already tipped my hand by saying it was jerky behavior right from the start. 

But I actually consider it to be situational. Not all lobs into the sun are created equal. 

So, I’ve come up with a rating system to determine whether lobbing into the sun during a non-tournament recreational play game meets the standards established by the Murmurs from the Losers’ Bracket Guide to Pickleball Etiquette.

To do this, I’ve come up with a points system to guide you in making the right decision.

The MFTLB Lobbing Questionnaire 

Select and compute points that reflect the game-play situation, then consult the key at the bottom of the questionnaire to determine whether you should lob into the sun against your opponents.

Question No. 1: Which of the following best describes the ages of your opponents?

(a) Younger than you  (add 3 points)

(b) Younger than you with no sunglasses (add 5 points)

(c) Older than you (0 points)

(d) Older than you with a suction cup on handle of paddle to pick up balls (minus 3 points)

Question No. 2: What is the game situation?

(a) We’re winning (minus 2 points)

(b) We’re losing ( add 2 points)

(c) We’re losing and the victim of bad line calls (add 4 points)

(d) We’re about to get pickled (add 5 points)

Question No. 3: Describe the relationship you have with the opponents:

(a) Strangers (add 3 points)

(b) Stranger bangers (add 5 points)

(c) Pickleball friends (0 points)

(d) Spouse (minus 3 points)

(d) My orthopedic surgeon ( minus 5 points)

Question No. 4: Are you using the sun lob for retaliation?

(a) For bringing boom box to court (add 3 points)

(b) Playing Village People songs from boom box (add 5 points)

(c) They only hit balls to the weaker partner (add 2 points)

(d) They’ve already meat-volleyed you this game (add 4 points)

(e) No (0 points)

Question No. 5:  When is the next time you’re likely to play with these opponents?

(a) Never ( add 3 points )

(b) Don’t know ( 0 points)

(c) Tomorrow ( minus 3 points)

Compute your score: 

4 points or less: Jerky behavior if you lob into the sun

5 to 10 points: OK, but you may suffer reputational harm

11 points or more: Who can blame you? Good luck. 

The “high lob” strategy explained

If you’re interested in the mechanics of the high lob strategy – with or without the sun – along with some tips of when to use high lobs, and how to defend against them, you should check out the following article from The Pickler:

SUN’S OUT, PICKLEBALL LOBS OUT? WHAT IS THE HIGH LOB STRATEGY?

MURMURS FROM THE LOSERS’ BRACKET

Read past editions of Murmurs from the Losers’ Bracket, including:

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!

I Dink, Therefore I Am | Frank Cerabino

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