Pickleball Journey

Misadventures of Andrew Lenz and a yellow ball

Yes, Wei!

Sunday, January 16, 2022 (Court Day #455)

It was a warm 50° when I headed out the door. When I arrived at Derby Park at 8:45, Larry and his wife Jacquie were drilling. A regular named Lori helped set up and net, followed by Larry and Jacquie. Matt and Paul from Scotts Valley appeared too and Paul asked if I wanted him to set up a net . . . “Yes, please!”

Paul and Matt setting up a net in the far corner. Players stretching. Allan and Lori also helping.

I ended up warming up with Matt and Paul. After about 10 minutes, Ted B. showed up and we had a game. It was a close one.

Modesto Visitor

There was a man named Ben visiting from Modesto. When he signed up in our red box, I was concerned about this unknown person’s skill level. Well, no need to be concerned. He’s a very solid 3.5. Maybe even a 4.0 on a good day.

Newbie Kim

While I was in a game, Tom Sherwood walked up and told me a woman was waiting for a lesson, a newbie. It’s been a while since I had to exercise that site coordinator responsibility. The blonde woman’s name was Kim, I’d put her in her mid to late 50s. She introduced me to her friend Missy. Missy is not new, but I didn’t know her. I asked Kim what Tom had explained to her and then covered a few more basics of the rules. I grabbed a ball and a loaner paddle and took Kim outside the gate to the grass nearby and had her volley the ball with me. Kim has good hand-eye coordination. I signed us up in beginner black on the court board and we had a game with firefighter Matt’s wife Carolyn and their daughter Sarah—I knew they’d be patient and great to Kim and they were. When Kim broke a minor rule, I’d stop and explain. I told her, “If at any point. I get annoying, please let me know.” She replied, “No, you are being very helpful!” Her friend was waiting, so Kim left after that first learning game, but she said she’d be back.

Wei and Kit Kat

I hadn’t play a game with Wei in a long time. Maybe two years! Wei is getting really good. Sure, he makes some mistakes, but they are infrequent and he is masterful with spin. There was one volley firefight between me and him at the net. BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM! Kit Kat, Wei’s partner, said she couldn’t even follow the ball. I won that particular rally, but it could have easily gone the other way. And did for some other rallies!

I felt pretty good about my play today. Lots to work on, but not bad.

I talked to tall Charles for a bit afterward about assorted things. He said there were a couple of players at Brommer who signed up in red after Charles and Leslie were already in a box and Charles and Leslie beat them 11-0. Charles was musing about the problem of players signing up above their level. Until the club grades all players, this will continue to be an issue,

What did I learn?

I still need to hug the right sideline. Wei would have gotten me on a couple sideline passing shots had he not hit them into the net in excitement.

I need work on not slamming the ball into the net on a high ball. I did it today on a forehand and a backhand shot!


My forearm is still feeling “tennis elbowy”. I’m concerned.

I told Charles I wouldn’t be playing at Brommer, but it’s possible that I might have enough staff tomorrow morning, Fingers crossed!

Number of days on a court: 455
Number of total hours: 2,199

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

End of the USAPA. Fabio?

Thursday, January 13, 2022 (Court Day #454)

When I arrived at Skypark at 6:45 p.m., it was the busiest that I’ve ever seen it. Even with it being a chilly 53°, there were at least 35 people there. 8 courts were set up and people were waiting.


Dan M. paid me tonight for the Prince paddle that I sold him. That’s the first paddle that I’ve sold from my assortment. I still have my Players Rogue 2—which is my “go to” paddle that I use all the time, a relatively new Tempest Wave, a delaminating Tempest Wave (that sports the autographs of Ben Johns, Kyle Yates, and Morgan Evans), and ProKennex paddle. I typically travel with three in my backpack . . . you never know when one will break or you’ll need to loan one out.

John A. had emailed this afternoon asking if I was playing tonight. I told him yes. I’d met John’s son Ben on Tuesday night. Ben is a tall lefty and is a strong 3.0 player. His dad is a solid 3.5. John is very competitive and will dive for balls in a game . . . and did so tonight while I was between games. He rolled after the fall and was ok—much to the relief of all paying attention!


I was in a game with Mark D. There was a ball that was well on his side, but he was more back and I had an easy forehand shot. I took the shot and dropped the ball over the net. Mark was not happy with me and after the rally ended, shared that he could have gotten it. You could say I was being a ball hog or you could say I was giving the opponents a little less time to set up. [See the video below.]

Rookie Dan

Dan and I played a number of games as partners. We played three against Paul and Matt. I can’t remember, but I think we won one—or at least, we were leading early on. Those were fun games.

Mya, Dan, Jacquie and I ended up in a game after Matt and Paul moved to a court to play with friends. I told Mya that I’d play with her. “I think you picked the wrong partner, I’m the weakest one here.” I knew that, of course. I smiled and explained, “I don’t care if I win, I’m after a challenge.” But we ended up winning anyway, even with me taking it down a notch. On the very first rally of the game, I poached my partner’s shot and quickly put the ball away for a winner. Mya joked, “What am I? A trophy partner?” It was pretty funny. As the game went on, I dialed things back. I noticed a lot of balls going to my partner instead of me!

Dan and I played three games against Larry and Mike B. Those were good games. The last one we lost 11-7. As Mike said to Dan, “You are getting better every time I play you.” And he is getting better.

I felt pretty good about my play tonight.

What did I learn?

I am overestimating the reach of my right arm and consequently leaving the right sideline open for a passing shot (while on the even side of the court) and sometimes leaving the middle open (while on the odd side of the court). I need to tweak my court positioning and trust my partner when I’m near the right sideline. And I need to be a better partner and cover the middle better than I already am.

I need work on not popping the ball up when a ball is being hit down at me. It’s a hard skill, but can be done.


My forearm was feeling “tennis elbowy” as I drove to Skypark. I iced it when I got home after playing.

Friday, January 14, 2022 (No Play)

There’s a Google Group for USAPA ambassadors and I’ve started seeing “USAP” instead of “USAPA” as the abbreviation for our association. I really dislike USAP instead of USAPA, I mean, do you see UST for the US Tennis Association? No, you see USTA. I wrote to our ambassador regional director and he said they aren’t using USAPA anymore. I was told previously that USA Pickleball was preferred, but USAPA was still the formal abbreviation. If you go to the association website, you’ll see “USA Pickleball Association” at the bottom of the webpage. But from now on, it’s USA Pickleball and USAP.

Humorous Text Strand

Kristin L. shared a photo she took of Adrian. I couldn’t let an opportunity go by to use my Photoshop skills…

As you can see, Adrian has quite a sense of humor and is a good sport to boot!

Saturday, January 15, 2022 (No Play)

My forearm is bothering me a little bit. Not a lot, but it’s noticeable sometimes.

This video appeared and it was very apropos given Thursday night. It’s worth a quick watch.

Number of days on a court: 454
Number of total hours: 2,195

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

Coming Along

Tuesday, January 11, 2022 (Court Day #453)

The Santa Cruz Pickleball Club sent out an email today to members sharing that there are two openings on the city’s Parks & Rec Commission. They are hoping one of the members will join the commission and give an ear to our call for more courts!

Yesterday, I received an email asking me to complete the background check authorization as required for my role as a USAPA Ambassador. I’ll do that this week.

I had an appointment at 7 p.m. and got my COVID booster at CVS in Scotts Valley, near the courts. I had to stick around—no pun intended—for 15 minutes afterward to make sure I didn’t have an adverse reaction. After that, I headed directly to Skypark and arrived at 7:30 p.m.

On the near court: Judy and Matt playing Tim and Mike B.

Things were hopping, three temporary nets were set up for a total of seven functional pickleball courts with nets. But there was a problem. The lights at the end of the complex illuminating the two nearest permanent courts were either out or only very intermittently working. No one wanted to use them. Mark Dettle said he would be reaching out to the City of Scotts Valley to let them know that three light are out—one at the opposite end over one of the tennis courts.

My first game was not great. But my play got better and better as the evening went on.

There was only one game tonight where I was playing with weak enough players that I switched to playing left-handed.


Paul and his friend Matt are getting so much better. Tim and I played three games—well, 3 1/2 since the lights clicked off mid-game—we won two, lost one by a slim margin, and were leading in the last one 8-4. But this was the second game I’ve lost to Matt and Paul when I was paired with a decent player. The first time was with Larry—Larry is relatively new himself and sometimes inconsistent, but is a decent player. Those were challenging and fun games. As we left, I mentioned expecting to see them in a tournament someday and they said they have already been looking at doing that and mentioned a couple upcoming tournaments.

I played a game with Larry earlier against Matt and Mark Dettle and Larry was definitely “cold” from sitting. He missed a lot of shots, but he got better and we came back and won the game. That was a fun one.

In one game with Tim against Matt and Paul, Tim said, “Andrew is tricky!” While we were all at the net, I’d brushed up on a low ball to add lift and topspin and Matt’s return of my shot ended up in the net. Yes, I made a very nice shot.

What did I learn?

I have yet to eliminate slamming a high ball into the net. It’s a 100% reliable way to turn a winner into an immediate loser!

Wednesday, January 12, 2022 (No Play)

A graph came in my work email . . . the email message was completely unrelated to pickleball. But it very much has applications to pickleball. It’s called a J Curve. Say you are learning a new serve, say, the spin serve. You have “Historical” as seen in the graph., this would be your solid “middle of the pack” serve. But you decide to work on the spin serve. Oooo, and it’s bad. You miss a lot of serves. You hit bottom quickly: Valley of Death. Then you have two choices: quit playing, revert to your historical solid serve, or persevere and gradually get better at the spin serve and, sooner or later, you hit your target of a new better serve that’s a weapon.

The key is to understand that the saying, “It’s always darkest before the dawn” applies . . . expect a lot of challenges when learning a new skill. Be patient and persistent.

Background Check

Tonight, I completed the USAPA background check authorization. It didn’t require nearly as long as I was expecting. It was a few screens of legal stuff, but it only took about five minutes.


My forearm is bothering me a little bit, hopefully, that’s not a trend. I’ve been very blessed to be able to play with my right arm lately with virtually no issues.

Number of days on a court: 453
Number of total hours: 2,192.5

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

« Older posts

© 2022 Pickleball Journey

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑

Pickleball Journey