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  • Writer's pictureDave Trentadue

Pickleball Thriving at Club CDL under Number-One Ranked pickleball player in Canada

Updated: May 22, 2023

Canada's number one ranked Pickleball player, Ernesto Fajardo,  at Club CDL, Montreal's premier sports club

The distinct sound of balls hitting paddles can be heard echoing throughout Club CDL most nights these days, which means only one thing: Pickleball is thriving on these courts. The world’s fastest growing sport has taken off in the past year, and Club CDL, known primarily as a premier tennis destination, is leading the way in Montreal. Their secret? They house Canada's number one ranked Pickleball player.

Born and raised in Montreal, Ernesto Fajardo was always a great athlete. After playing tennis competitively for years, mainly at Club CDL, he traded in his tennis racket for a Pickleball paddle for the first time in 2016, where he played mostly for fun. It wasn’t until a year later in 2017 that he crossed the border into Plattsburgh to enter the 2nd Annual International Plattsburgh Pickleball Tournament. It was at this tournament that Ernesto and his partner faced two Pickleball professionals, ranked in the top-20 in the world, Rob Cassidy and Sean Williams.

It was after playing versus these two pros that Ernesto realized that he loved the sport of Pickleball and was, in fact, quite good at it. He started to develop his own strategies and skill, and eventually headed down to Florida to play in the 2018 US Cup. With rumblings that the Americans played at a much higher level and unsure of what level he should enter the tournament at, he and his partner ended up entering the tournament at just under the top level. Not only did they keep up, they won the entire tournament!

Ernesto turned pro in 2019 at the Toronto Cup. A year later, in 2020, he won the Toronto Cup with none other than Rob Cassidy as his partner. He went on tour in early 2021 and he himself cracked the top-20 worldwide rankings.

Since July 2021, he has accumulated a ton of tournament wins, including the Canadian Nationals in Men’s Doubles in 2021, and the Mixed Doubles at the same tournament in 2022. And now, he sits atop Canada’s Pickleball field, ranked number one in Doubles and Mixed Doubles.

When people say Pickleball is the fastest growing sport, they are right. Professional Pickleball was just getting started in 2017 and has only really been around with real prize money since 2019. Since then, however, the sport has flourished. Tom Brady, Patrick Mahomes, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Naomi Osaka. All big-name professional athletes, and all have invested in Professional Pickleball teams.

Locally here in Montreal, people have also taken notice. In many communities, public tennis courts have been transformed, with Pickleball lines slowly creeping onto the playing surfaces.

But no place may be better suited for newcomers and those looking for competition than Club CDL. If you’re going to try your hand at a sport, why not learn from the best? Pickleball players are lucky enough to find themselves in the beginning stages of the sport. Imagine getting a tennis lesson from Felix Auger Aliassime? How amazing would it be if Bianca Andreescu was easily accessible at your local tennis club, handing out lessons each and every week? That is basically what is happening on the Pickleball side of things at Club CDL with Ernesto Fajardo. You truly can learn from the literal best of the best.

In case learning from the country’s best player wasn’t enough, Ernesto has more than actual experience to offer. He is an officially licensed IPTPA Level 2 Teaching Professional, meaning he can coach Coaches. He is one of only 6 IPTPA Level 2 teaching pros in the country.

In a recent interview with TSN 690 radio in Montreal, Ernesto said he is enjoying honing his craft while still enrolled at school, in his third year at McGill University in Mechanical Engineering. He invited anyone with interest in the sport of Pickleball to head over to and reach out to him and join him at one of his clinics.

In a sport that requires quick reflexes, aspiring Pickleball players should really try their hand at learning from Ernesto - something tells us he won’t be as accessible as he is now for much longer.

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