Connor Pardoe doesn’t have a high profile, but as Commissioner of the Professional Pickleball Association (PPA), he is one of the most powerful people in pickleball. Last week on Facebook, Andrew K. W. Jones, founder of the Savannah Pickleball Club, accused Pardoe of “cheating” as a player in a PPA tournament:
…[w]e were playing them. Won game 1 like 11-5. Early in game 2 they wanted to start stacking. Game 2 was close. Around 7-7-2 I caught them serving in the wrong spot. Instead of just admitting to it they tried to talk to my like I was a moron. “Just because I started the game here doesn’t mean I’m always the 1. We rotate”. I’m like yeah no shit. After another attempt to throw me off their scent they claim “oh i forgot, we changed starting servers between game 1 and game 2.”I said well where’s ur starting server band? They reply “do u want us to get a ref?”. I said “no, the ref can’t fix this now because they weren’t here. But you gave a speech before the tourney about how we need to wear these. And, ur supposed to let the other team know when you change starting servers between games. “Then they played it off like “we get it man, it’s competitive and the score is close”.I said “that’s irrelevant, you’re in the wrong spot unless you changed starting servers like ur claiming”.Well I took them at their word and they won game two 11-9. We ended up winning game 3 again like 11-5. I told the ref table about it just to make sure they put a band on to avoid this stuff again. A couple days later I’m watching the game (we video’d it), and those sobs never changed starting servers, they purposely lied to try to gain an advantage, all while not wearing the proper server bands. Cheating in ur own tourney is a whole new level of filth.
The comment can be found in this thread of pickleball players (both amateur and pro) critical of how the Orlando PPA tournament was run last week.
The alleged incident involving Jones and Pardoe occurred in May at the Atlanta Georgia Open PPA tournament. The players were Jones and his partner Patrick May vs. Pardoe and his partner Derk Pardoe. They competed in the 4.5 19+ division. Ultimately, Jones and May prevailed 11-3, 10-12, 11-5. The contested incident occurred in the second game.
There is video of the entire match here. The audio is largely incomprehensible. However, the video seems to confirm major elements of Jones’ allegations:
- Connor Pardoe serves from the right side of the court at 23:26, then loses the point.
- Connor Pardoe incorrectly positions himself on the left side of the court at 23:40.
- The Pardoes continue to play in incorrect positions until 25:48 when Jones notices the error.
- A discussion ensues.
- It appears that neither of the Pardoes is wearing a first-server bracelet.
- The point is given to the Pardoes, who continue to serve and receive in incorrect positions for the remainder of the game.
Jones’ doubles partner Patrick May confirmed Jones’ account of what occurred. May harbors no ill will toward the Pardoes. “I’m not angry at them,” he told Dinkheads in a telephone interview.
We asked May whether he thought Connor Pardoe’s alleged mistake (incorrectly claiming his partner was the first server) could have been inadvertent. He said that Pardoe’s initial error — serving from the wrong side of the court — was an honest mistake. But when Pardoe claimed that his partner was the first server, “that seemed like a stretch,” May said.
We reached out to Connor Pardoe last week via email and on Facebook. He replied: “Thanks for reaching out. I’m happy to give you a full response by end of the day Monday. Appreciate the news you cover in the sport. Have a great weekend[.]” As of Monday evening on September 20, we had not received any subsequent emails from him. We will update this post if he follows up.
One thing seems clear: Connor Pardoe should have worn a first-server bracelet. That would have prevented any confusion about who served first–and that’s why they are handed to every participant in professionally-run tournaments in the first place. And Section 3.A.41 of the USA Pickleball rulebook says that such bracelets must be worn in tournaments:
According to Jones’ Facebook post, Connor Pardoe gave a speech at the tournament saying that such bracelets were required. Too bad Pardoe didn’t follow his own rule.