Thursday, March 30, 2017 (Court Day #10)
I left work right at closing time (that means about 45 minutes early for me), raced home, changed, and headed to Scotts Valley. I was about 15-20 minutes late (6 p.m. was starting time) and there were plenty of people already there with a few people on the bench waiting to play or warm up on one of the four courts set up. Tennis was being played where two additional courts were set up the last time I was there.
Maree and her husband Mark were there. (Maree and Mark are both generous with their time and experience with beginners. And diehards. Almost always at the courts when I go!) Eric and a few other familiar faces from Derby Park were also at the courts. Jerry Louis brought a couple of people new to pickleball—his neighbors, from what I overheard.
I played a game partnered with a lefty named Melody against Marie and Mark. We lost 11-4 or something like that. Melody made a point to tell me afterward to make a stronger effort to get to the kitchen line. Maybe so. Sometimes I was hesitant when Mark was about to smash it at me! Melody also mentioned that Marie and Mark were hitting more shots to me than her. I didn’t notice, but being that I’ve been playing only two months, that would make good strategic sense for them, hitting to the less experienced player. It’s not as fun for the more experienced player, but strategically logical.
On a low note, I still have more work to do controlling the height of the ball. Occasional hits into the net. Or hits high enough to be smashed back.
On the bright side, I amazed myself a couple times during some rallies. I managed to return a few smashes in one rally. And I was able to win some intense volley rallies at the net. Instances where the other players on the court give you verbal kudos afterward. And my dinking is going pretty well. Those I can generally control the height and direction well—I won some points in the soft game—it is th hits from the baseline or midcourt that are more problematic.
It’s funny, it seems to regularly take me 2 hours of playing to get warmed up to the point where I play better. Go figure. I hope that time will shorten! Also, I’m starting to notice the effect of opponents’ skill on the game. There are games where my random partner and I get taken to the cleaners and others where my random partner and I take our opponents to the cleaners. Maybe they return a shot that was going out. Or whiff on a high lob. Or dink into the net. Mistakes I make myself—but hopefully with less frequency!
A weird thing that crept into my game was two or three serves when my backhand return went wide left tor wide right of the court. Embarrassing and odd. My backhand is typically reliable.
Oh, and I served my first let in a pickleball game. Just a another unimportant milestone passed.
I really need to get time to analyze the videos from yesterday morning’s matches. I need to objective advice on court positioning, hitting technique, and whatever else I can figure out from them.
Another piece of good news is my back isn’t as sore as it has been. That is particularly good considering I played yesterday morning for three hours.
i was on the last active court partnered with another Mark (not Maree’s husband) against Craig and Leah. Eric called them both out by name when they arrived, so they must be somewhat regulars though I don’t recall seeing them before. We wrapped our last match—Mark and I won both matches—at about 8:45 p.m. and broke down the net. Mark stowed the net and ball rack into the locker and that was a night.
Next playing? Maybe Sunday morning. There may be some Saturday morning someday when I’ll play, but not this busy weekend.