Monday, May 29, 2017. (Court Day #32)

I got up a couple hours early in order to get to Santa Cruz Memorial Park by 6:30 a.m. to help put up U.S. flags in the military section of the cemetery to commemorate Memorial Day and honor the fallen veterans. Hey, I can give up a couple hours of sleep! They gave up far more than I did today! Freedom isn’t free, as they say.

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Afterward, my friend Patrick invited me out to breakfast so we met at Santa Cruz Diner afterward. Patrick’s son Casey is my son Nicholas’ best friend. They’ve known each other since preschool and still hang out now that they are at UCSD and UCLA, respectively.

Pickleball

My wife was off walking the dog when I got home at 8:30 and I texted her about me maybe going to pickleball. To her credit, she’s been super supportive of me getting out for exercise and she called me and said it was perfectly fine with her.

I checked SantaCruzPickleballClub.org for details on playing. I overheard yesterday someone talking about being at Brommer today. After checking, sure enough Mondays are the day for Brommer Street Park. I’d never been there, so it’d be a new experience.

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Parking was super easy, as I knew from mapping the location out on my phone beforehand. There’s a large adjacent lot. There was plenty of parking when I got there a couple of minutes after 9. I’d been warned about the playing surface and it was both better and worse than I was expecting. Of the six painted court outlines (no filled in blocks), four were intact surfaces. However, the other two had potholes where the court surface was gone, leaving about a 1/4″ depth hole. Of the few games I played on those two courts, it only affected one serve which was replayed.

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There were a number of players at Brommer that I’d never seen before.

Playing with Jerry and Rich

I got play a game as Jerry’s partner and I held my own. We played against Rich and a woman that I can’t remember. Rich was the novelty. I’d never seen Rich before. Rich is a middle-aged short stocky muscular dude. Not sure his heritage . . . Latino? Filipino? Anyway, he’s a strong player. Fast serves. After the game, Jerry said I’d do better if I don’t move through my shots. I hit the ball too deep (out of the court) as I moved forward on a return of serve. I told Jerry, “I probably heard that once a month for the last four months. The trick is implementing it!”

I chatted with Rich later and he said he’s been playing for about four years. He also said he injured his shoulder about six months ago and he even recently got a cortisone shot and that the injury is affecting his play. I told him that I couldn’t tell and he was still really good. He said, “I used to be able to hit a backhand with such spin that 80% of the time it would be hit back into the net. I can’t do that anymore.” I have my shares of aches and pains . . . a slightly sore right ankle, slightly sore right and left hip . . . but I count my blessings that I don’t have a long chronic severe injury like Rich. Pleasant guy.

In one game, Kim (instructor at Cabrillo College) stopped me and said, “Make sure to hit it deep to keep them at the baseline if they are there.” I graciously accepted her advice. She was right. I’ve given the advice to others myself. Mistake. I know better. It might have been on a backhand, I’m not sure. I’ll just have to pay more attention. It’d be nice to have my new “action camera” back. Hmmm. I just checked the FedEx tracking number. It was delivered five days ago on Wednesday last week. I haven’t heard from them. I’ll have to drop Akaso a note and see what’s up. Maybe they already shipped out the replacement refurbished unit.

Newbie Ted

I played a game against Leslie McGarvey and a fresh face, Ted, son of Tim. I don’t remember who Tim is. Stuart started calling Ted “Teaspoon” . . . “TS” is an abbreviation for “teaspoon”—Ted Son of Tim. Anyway, Ted is a very youthful 40. Someone asked what he did for a living and he said he was a lawyer. I wouldn’t have taken him for a lawyer. Ted was raw, having never played before, but he had a mean forehand. He wasn’t super accurate or tactical, but that’s expected. Leslie is a good player. Fast low serve and not a lot of mistakes. My partner said that she’s a 5.0 player. I looked her up later and she won a two gold medals at the recent Bay Area Senior Games: Mixed Doubles 60-64 and Women’s Doubles 60-64. (Obviously, I didn’t memorize all the names of local winners that I listed in one of my own blog posts!) Even with Leslie playing with a beginner, we got taken down easily, something like 11-5 or thereabouts.

Brommer has its own signup board which is kept with all the rest of the pickleball supplies in a large shed outside the chainlink courts area.

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Grita was looking to put together a stronger game. Peter had already asked me and put his name down after mine on the signup board. Jerry said he was in for Grita’s game and said, “Andrew would be ok as a fourth.” Well, that’s a vote of confidence! I told them that I didn’t want to leave Peter hanging. Peter, knowing that I was missing out on playing, said, “Sorry, I didn’t mean to keep you from playing by signing up with you.” I’m not sure why others may have been avoiding him—or us!—Peter is a decent player and upbeat. Not a great player, but not rotten by any stretch.

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Jerry Louis—in red, it’s hard to believe that he’s in his 70s—sitting next to 1st time player, Cary, explaining something to Janet. Tom (visor & black shorts) stands in the background.

The next to last game of the day was Grita and me against Janet and Stuart. There was a somewhat stocky asian fellow named Dave sitting watching. Dave was in a game earlier with Stuart, Dean, and Kent . . . that means he’s an advanced player. Stuart was giving advice to Janet throughout the game.

After one particularly contested point, Dave yelled, “There was a YouTube video right there!” A good rally.

Stuart attempted to lob a ball over my head but it was unsuccessful. Being a snotty upstart, I teased him, “Stuart! Lobs are a low percentage shot!” He laughed and countered, “I’m going to make you pay for that!” Within a few points, he attempted to lob it over my head again but I leaped up and returned it for a winner. I have to take the good moments when they come—especially against good players!

After the game, Dave asked me, “How long have you been playing?” “Four months.” Janet chimed in, “But Andrew is serious. He uses a GoPro to video his games.” Dave said, “That’s how to improve.” Dave asked if I’d seen the Pickleball 101 series on YouTube by Joe Baker. I told him that those videos are great and that I’d discovered them the first week I started playing. Dave said, “Many in our club play wrong. They don’t do enough dinking. If you go elsewhere, like Palo Alto, you’ll see it.” He finished off, “If you keep at it, you’ll get to be really good.”

I squeezed in one more game after 12. Kevin and me against two women. I think one was Cathy and the other was Susie. We won fairly easily. I wasn’t as tired as previous outings. Good thing!

The good shots are coming more frequently and while I still make bad shots, they are coming less often. I’m no “big dog” player, but I am getting better.

Oh, and another first. Five days playing in a six day span.

Number of days on a court: 32
Number of total hours: 92