Pickleball Journey

Misadventures of Andrew Lenz and a yellow ball

SCPC Workshop and Night Games

Thursday, May 25, 2023. (Court Day #598)

I had signed up to volunteer who is helping run Santa Cruz Pickleball Club workshop this afternoon at 4 p.m. at Derby Park. I left work about 2:45 p.m., ran home, ate some food, changed, and then raced down to the courts.

There were some people milling around plus a few games going when I arrived. Todd Murphy was the instructor for the session. This group of students were intermediates with some beginners.

Drill #1

There was no initial drill guidance for the court leaders—junior instructors, whatever you want to call us! Todd gave a brief, informal talk to all the attendees explaining and demonstrating the first drill, which was dinking straight ahead with a partner, followed by a crosscourt dinking. After a few minutes of crosscourt dinking, we switched to a game of Dingle. (I had to ask Nolan what this game was called since I couldn’t remember!) That’s the game where four players are dinking crosscourt, and once one of the balls is no longer in play, someone yells, “Dingle”, and then the point is played out in a normal game fashion. We did that for quite a length of time.

Drill #2

Todd got everybody together and then we split off for the next drill. This was drop shots with one person at the net hitting the ball back to the person remaining at baseline. After a little bit, the two players swapped places.

Drill #3

When our second break where he explained the final drill, which was one partner, driving the ball at the other, who is on the opposite side at the kitchen line. The goal of the person at the kitchen put the drive the ball back to the person at the baseline. Like the previous drills, the partners change places and then repeated the drill. The burners change places numerous times during the course of this trail.

There wasn’t a group announcement but after the driving drill, Todd told each court to transition to games. There was no formal closure and so people wandered off when they no longer wanted to play.

End Games

I got into a game with a shorter woman with closely cropped hair named Lou against Pauly and a woman—who I don’t believe I’ve ever met before—named Rachel. Rachel obviously had a strong tennis background, I should hit good drives, drives with a lot of topspin, and a wicked overhead slam driving the ball angled off the court. Also, given the opportunity with their opponents back, Rachel would gently angle short shots off the court for a winner.

We played three games. Lou and I lost the first two games but won the third game. I was the strongest player and Lou was the weakest player. Those were entertaining games. When we were done, I asked Rachel if she wanted a couple of tips and she said “yes”, so I shared them with her . . . the most important of which is making sure to come up to the NVZ. She had a habit of staying back towards baseline . . . a common tennis habit.

At about 6:30 p.m., I left Derby Park. I believe there was one game still going, but I was heading to Skypark!


I made a quick pitstop at home since it was more or less on the way and—like anyone else—I try to avoid public Port-a-Pottys. Today was my wife’s last day of teaching 1st grade, but only some administrative meetings to participate in tomorrow at school. I found her in the spa in the backyard with a glass of wine and a book. She definitely deserves it! I told her what I was up to and off I went!


I was parked and was walking onto the courts at Skypark about 6:55 p.m.

Joe goes back as partner Matt looks on. Tim F. and Nate on the far side.

Since I was the odd man out. When David and Minori arrived, I unlocked the storage bin and we got out a net and set it up. Right after we set it up, one of the strong games finished and I managed to weasel my way in. I played with Matt against the two Tim‘s. Matt and I got our butts kicked in both games we were playing against them. Tim H. was playing very, very well.

Pretty much the entire run of games tonight were solid with good players.

Friday, May 26, 2023 (No Play)

I woke up at 3:30 a.m. and my right wrist was aching significantly. After about an hour, I got back to sleep and when I woke up to start my day, it was relegated to just a mild ache.

Number of days on a court: 598
Number of total hours: 2,633.5
Number of paid coaching hours: 2

To start at the beginning of this blog click on “1st Post” in the menu above.

One Good Game at Skypark

Tuesday, May 23, 2023. (Court Day #597)

Early yesterday morning, I had my pre-op for my knee surgery, which will be taking place on Friday next week. I met with a physicians assistant and she went over what to expect. Since the same doctor had done my shoulder surgery, she explained that the process will be similar so I should know already what to expect. Briefly, the doctor came in and showed me the meniscus tear from the MRI that I had done on the same day that they scanned my shoulder a couple of years ago. The tear was extremely obvious in the image he shared. He had never showed it to me in such an obvious fashion before. My knee is feeling worse than when I had that MRI done so I suspect the tear is now more significant. The doctor explained that if there is arthritis or damage to the cartilage, there isn’t anything that he can do about that, but he can clean up the meniscus. Given that my right knee makes a clunking noise when I go from kneeling to standing up, there needs to be some work done.

Today, I got a call from the local pharmacy explaining that they do not have the pain-management medication which was prescribed for me. The reason why the physicians assistant had selected that particular pharmacy was because the other one was out of stock. I guess I’ll just have to have something else prescribed for me.


I arrived at Skypark about 6:45 p.m. and seven of the courts were set up. It was a bit chilly.

There was a group of new players who were using one of the empty tennis courts to play pickleball in a slipshod fashion. Since I was waiting to get into a game, Mark Dettle suggested that I get out one of the portable nets and set it up so those players could play on a true court instead. When I suggested it to those players, they were pleased and they helped me set up the net. I explained the double bounce rule, the non-volley zone, and a couple pieces of strategy, then left them to play. They smiled and said thank you. There was Nick, Aaron, and a fellow named Chris, and also a young woman whose name I forget. Later on, I noticed that they’d moved over to one of the permanent courts without all the extra lines.


I was playing reasonably well tonight and most of the games are not particularly challenging. I spent the night playing mostly with 3.0 players. The best game of the night was towards the end. I played with Casey against Tim H. and Dan Dewey. That was a fun and challenging one. Tim was playing extremely well.

The last two games of the night were with Chef Mark (the Spanish speaker) and myself against Mackenzie (the UCSC student), and a fellow named Nico, who I never seen before. The first game I was played right-handed and Mark and I had a very lopsided win. We played again and this time I played left-handed. I’d been a while since I played a left-handed game, so it was fairly balanced. (I get rusty when I don’t use my left hand for a while!) When the lights clicked off shortly after 9:30 p.m., the score was tied at 8-8.

Various Injuries

I forgot my knee brace on Sunday, but I remembered it tonight. It does seem to help.

My right wrist continues to hurt and my left knee is bothering me as well. Hopefully, when I have my right knee surgery, my left knee will also get better from the break from play.

Number of days on a court: 597
Number of total hours: 2,630.5
Number of paid coaching hours: 2

To start at the beginning of this blog click on “1st Post” in the menu above.

Brother Sunday

Sunday, May 21, 2023. (Court Day #596)

I headed out the door to Derby Park under cloudy skies and the temperature at 55°F. My right hand continues to be problematic. I’ve been noticing that even brushing my teeth causes some discomfort in my right wrist.

I texted my brother John yesterday, inviting him to come play pickleball this morning, and he said he would join me sometime after opening time. Also, Jeff, good friend of mine, was invited by a lady friend of his to come play today at Derby—they never did show up though. (Later, I found out that she had played yesterday and decided not to play again today so that canceled their Derby Park visit.)

Generally, my right wrist has been fine for doing forehand shots. However, on Thursday night, there were some forehands that resulted in some pain too. When I have knee surgery in two weeks, my wrist will definitely benefit from that forced break.

When I arrived in Derby early, the nets were all set up by Barbara and Mark G. was blowing off the courts. I helped with the last few things like putting up the court reservation board. A site coordinator like me can’t ask for much more in terms of assistance!

My brother John showed up about 10 a.m. and I was in the middle of the game but once I was done, and I signed us up together. John’s weakest part of the game continues to be serving. But he’s learning.

John (far left) and Ying warming up against a woman and Sarah.

It was a pretty miserable day with regard to getting higher level games. There is definitely a major amount of skill creep happening with lower skill players signing up as intermediates and intermediates signing up as advanced. There was a guy who said he been playing for one month who signed up in advanced! He is far from an advanced player, unfortunately. I was talking to Dan D. after the session and he agreed that we really didn’t get a game together with four truly advanced players. It was a disappointment for me.

Things wrapped up about 1 p.m. and I was on my way home to ice my wrist.

Number of days on a court: 596
Number of total hours: 2,627.5
Number of paid coaching hours: 2

To start at the beginning of this blog click on “1st Post” in the menu above.

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