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The Pickleball Troll

Strategy & Technique Frank Cerabino 03-21-2022

If you spend any time on pickleball’s many Facebook groups, you’ll find posts by Doug Wanoy.

Wanoy is a frequent poster who appears to be a gray-haired man living in Jersey City, New Jersey, and an avid recreational pickleball player.

But the “Doug Wanoy” you see doesn’t exist. The man who created “Doug Wanoy” is named Greg, and he’s a 61-year-old pickleball player who lives in Western Pennsylvania near Pittsburgh.

The Pickleball Troll | Pickler Pickleball

“Doug Wanoy” is a fictitious pickleball troll.

“I didn’t even know what a troll was until my 29-year-old son told me,” Greg told The Pickler.

“Trolls” are people who write provocative posts on social media message boards with the intention of annoying people into engaging in debate over something that didn’t happen.

“Doug Wanoy” posts are ridiculous fabrications that have enough truth in them to inflame other pickleball posters who imagine them as real.

Here’s one:

“Need some advice with an extremely irritating issue that is affecting our annual rankings. We have an individual that will stop a close match to allegedly use the Porta John.
If Greg’s team is winning he is fine (no restroom break) but if my team is winning Greg will call time out at least THREE times during the match.
It always kills our momentum. I’m at a point that I am considering boycotting our annual banquet even though I will be getting several of the top awards but I will also be saving $175 banquet cost.”

The Pickleball Troll | Pickler Pickleball

The post was left on USA Pickleball Seniors, where frequent bathroom breaks by older men is a relevant topic.

“Don’t miss your nice banquet over a person like that,” one poster answered. “At our resort where I used to live, if someone did something like that we would walk off the court. Or sit him down like a child and tell him no more, or wear Depends. Hehe. Just kidding on the last part.”

Greg, who asked for his last name to remain anonymous, says his foray into becoming a pickleball troll was the result of a pickleball injury.

“I got hurt going for a lob, and ended up with my leg in a boot for six months,” he said. “I couldn’t play. I was bored and wanted something to do.”

So, he created Doug Wanoy and spun fanciful tales loosely based on his pickleball experiences, the stories he heard while playing, and the few dozen other pickleball players he considers part of his group.

“The first one I wrote got 300 comments,” he said.

Being a social media troll was something he had a talent for, he learned.

“You’ve got to do stuff you know about,” he said. “You can’t fake it. Every single one of my stories reflects somebody in the group of players I play with.”

Here’s another Doug Wanoy story:

“Is this a common practice among pickleball players to share rooms?
My wife, who is a very skilled pickleball player, was asked by a married man to play in a mixed doubles tournament. The tournament was held last Sunday in Michigan.
Both the man and his wife (non-player) agreed to share their hotel room (Embassy Suites) with my wife during the weekend trip to save money. I reluctantly agreed that it would be OK.
Well, Saturday at our local Talbot’s store, I see the guy’s wife with another man.
Obviously, the wife never went on the trip and I am now torn between telling the husband or not. I haven’t even mentioned it to my wife.”

The Pickleball Troll | Pickler Pickleball

Scores of commenters chimed in: “I’d be questioning the whole mixed double nonsense with your wife,” one poster wrote. “Why didn’t she call or text you the moment she realized she’d be sharing a room with just him? You are having the wool pulled over your eyes.”

It’s trolling like this that keeps Greg going.

“I’m intrigued by people and how upset they get from these things,” Greg said. “But if I see the comments are getting very annoying, I will back off.”

Greg, who said he had never played in a tournament during the 10 years he has played pickleball, recently wrote about Doug Wanoy’s first tournament competition.

It started with Doug Wanoy writing about his ridiculous pre-tournament preparations:

“Hi. I am having anxiety as I approach my first ever beginner level tournament this Saturday. My diet has consisted of low fat and high carb meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner and has remained consistent for the last four weeks. I plan to have pasta on Friday night. I will work on shot defense Monday and shot offense on Tuesday then rest the remainder of the week.
My pre-tournament regime is similar to a seasoned marathon runner with the goal of peaking at the main event. Everything is falling into place except sleep.
My anxiety is affecting my sleep pattern where I am only able to sleep three to four hours a night at most. I have even tried sleep aids (Melatonin, Zquil, Ambien and even Xanax) but nothing is working. My body is starting to break down.
I was wondering if a sports psychologist would help and if anyone could share their experiences.”

The Pickleball Troll | Pickler Pickleball

Posters recommended CDB oil and meditation. Others told him to relax.

Then, Doug Wanoy posted this after he competed in the imaginary tournament.

“Well my first tournament did not go as well as I expected. We finished 16th but had an egregious call made by the opposing team for the 15/16 placement medal.
We were rallying back from a 2 to 13 deficient when the (annoying) female opponent stopped play as I lobbed a perfect shot directly over her head. She claimed that a ball from another game entered our court.
This stoppage ruined our momentum causing us to lose. I immediately protested to the tournament (female) director who was also a friend of the female opponent. The director forced us to continue the game without reviewing video.
This was obviously a conflict of interest and I then asked the park director to intervene but she rudely walked away. I called our state pickleball ambassador (female) who hung up on me.
I am looking for help on this issue but do not know which step to take next. Are we governed by a pickleball association?”

Posters advised him to “Give it up, it was one point” or to “Get a life.”

Somebody did wonder about the unlikelihood of a video review of an also improbable 15/16 placement medal. And then there’s the casual misogyny of the post, with all the reference to women ruining his tournament.

This has made “Doug Wanoy” a man on the run. As his over-the-top comedic trolling goes on, people are starting to catch on that the guy who complained about getting the city council to address profanity on the pickleball court is the same guy who wrote about playing shirtless, or worrying that his wife was sharing a hotel room with her mixed-doubles partner.

So, he occasionally gets banned from Facebook groups by administrators who get wise that there’s a troll on the loose.

But there are so many social media groups for pickleball. It allows him to move from one group to another after people catch on.

“With Facebook, it’s so easy,” he said. “Right now, the beginners groups have been good.”

Doug Wanoy has already been booted from some of the high-profile groups, such as Pickleball Kitchen.

“The worst part about being banned is that when they take you off the group, they wipe out all your posts. Some of my best work you can’t see anymore.”

It’s too bad, because Doug Wanoy is also growing a fan base of people who know what he’s doing and share his twisted sense of humor.

“I love this guy,” wrote one USA Pickleball Seniors poster. “If you haven’t done so already, please search in this group for his previous posts. Doug Wanoy, if your pickleball is half as good as your creativity, then you are a 5.0.”

Greg said that when he’s on the pickleball court, he’s really nothing like his “Doug Wanoy” creation.

“I’m as low key as you can be on the court,” he said.

He’s getting ready to move to North Carolina as he transitions to retirement. Maybe not only for him in the real world, but also for his imaginary Facebook troll, Doug Wanoy.

The year-long joke, he said, is about to run its course.

“I’m near the end,” he said.


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