Adventures of Andrew Lenz and a Yellow Ball

Month: June 2017 (Page 1 of 3)

Driving to Failure

Wednesday, June 28, 2017 (Court Day #40)

After much debate, I arrived at Derby Park at 9:00 a.m. I’m the boss, so pickleball is a balance of work obligations and responsibilities as well as sanity and health. I opted to stay only two hours instead of my usual three since there were things waiting for me at work… ad scheduling, invoice review, staff hiring, etc. Ugh.

After partnering with Mike against Maree and Ted in a game that we won, Mike complimented my overall play. He’s always good about critiquing and being forthright voicing dismay with his partnèrs—putuated with an occasional “nice shot”, so a compliment after a game is high praise.

Playing against Mike, I served an ace. One I would have been unable even to return myself—being younger and quicker. It was low, fast, and right in the near left corner. But, the day I can get one of those without missing any serves at all, I’ll celebrate.

I played decently, but not fantastic today. One thing that made an impression on me was playing with my former neighbor Dave. The third shot. I can’t keep doing what I’m doing—third shot drives. That’s what killed me playing against Cathy and Kim last week. As Dave said today, if they are at the net (or just about) you can get a mouthful of pickleball! The third shot drive can be effective against weaker opponents, but against stronger opponents such as Dale (visiting from Santa Rosa), it can be a gift-wrapped winner for them. I need to start attempting more third shot drops. Bottom line. Dave said, “There you did it. You can do it. You just need to do it more.” (Third shot drop. But it’s a hard to execute shot. Drives are super easy—just not often wise.)

It’s funny. I was thinking, “Boy. Am I a banger?” Maybe to an extent, I am. (“Where are those third shot drops?”) Though I’m not afraid of the soft game. I did force Dale into a failed return on a cross-court backhand dink. That felt nice. (Though I did miss one of those in an early game on the day—I’ll claim I wasn’t warmed up yet!)
My hips were aching and I could feel them while playing—more so as the morning progressed. I’ll probably opt out of playing in Scotts Valley tomorrow night since we have a softball game Friday night and I don’t want to be hobbling around in the outfield!

Number of days on a court: 40
Number of total hours: 113

Jerry Class No. 2

Tuesday, June 27, 2017 (Court Day #39)

I arrived at Derby Park at 8:30 a.m. for the third session of Jerry Louis’ class. As previously noted, I missed the first one.

Present were Jerry (duh), Maree, Ted, John P., Kim, Cathy, Sycha (“sigh-chah”) and me. At 49, I was the youngest one there. Jerry had us do some lobbing drills and, later, taught the class stacking. (I think John had done stacking previously with Melody in mixed doubles at the Bay Area Senior Games, since he was talking about them stacking.) I’ve seen videos with stacking and understand the concept, but it is challenging implementing and keeping proper track of the true positions on the court, score, and pre-service alignment. As I told Sycha today, it’s like patting your head and rubbing your belly—it’s a bit of a trick when you first try it! Like anything, it would become easier with practice.

The last thing we did was play a single unscored game with four playing and three waiting to rotate in. If you made an unforced error, you were replaced with the next waiting player. I didn’t even make it through the first point and was off the court. Kim was on for quite a bit of time. I redeemed myself later by being on for quite a bit of time as well. At this level, you tend to do well by simply allowing the other team make the mistakes. But I’ve said that before. No surprise there.

Jerry said he’d be emailing me about making up the first session that I missed.

Brommer Park

Karen Long sent out a club message today sharing that the new permanent pickleball courts and Brommer will be open to the public tomorrow! Awesome!

Number of days on a court: 39

Number of total hours: 111

The Protege


At our softball game on Friday night, the other team didn’t have enough men and had to forfeit but we scrimmaged anyway. I caught two deep fly balls in left field (dropping and missing none) and got around reasonably ok. The most problematic ache was the chronic right glute muscle. It’s, quite literally, a pain. Not crippling, but nagging.

Someone posted a good article about etiquette on a pickleball court. Nothing new to me, but a good list to share:’s-pickleball_06_22_2017

Sunday, June 25, 2017 (Court Day #38)

First an update on Brommer, this photo was from this past week. They installed the posts for the dividing fence between the two pairs of pickleball courts. More progress!


Next Generation

My son Nicholas was picked up by my wife and brought home from UCLA on the 15th. I asked him a few days ago if he wanted to come play pickleball and he nodded his head. I checked in last night and he said he’d come today. I told him the URL for this blog again—I had shared it with my kids a couple of months ago—and told him to read at least the first few entries and watch the videos. He did.

As we drove—after a late start—to Derby Park, I looked at the gray skies then the thermometer on my car dash: 57°F. Not exactly balmy weather. (Though it’d burn off and climb to 80 in the afternoon.) I told Nicholas, “It’s overcast and on the cold side, it should be a lighter turnout today.”

Yeah, right.

We arrived at 10:15 a.m. and found a crowd waiting for court time! About 40 people for 24 positions. So much for my expectations based on past experience!

What’s odd is that they changed the color coding on the pens for the signup board:
Green = Intermediate
Blue = Int/Adv
Red = Advanced
Where was “beginner” when I needed it? Nicholas got color-coded as intermediate.

While we were waiting outside the fence, I had him volley the ball back and forth with me. I could immediately tell he was going to be just fine. He consistently hit the ball in a controlled manner back each time. Excellent hand-eye coordination. (Hmmmm. I wonder where he got that? Heh. Heh. Heh.)

Our first game was with a woman named Mary who was new (it was her second day on a court) and Marie, a regular. Nicholas had a solid forehand and very good volley skills right off the bat. His backhand, while inconsistent, wasn’t an automatic point for the other team. I eased up a bit on Mary and gave her easy serves, for instance.

Later we played against a couple, Larry and his wife Rosalie who are from Surprise/Bumstead, Arizona—but spend their summers in Santa Cruz. (Duh. As if you want to spend your summer in Arizona!) It wasn’t even close. Nicholas and I made short work of them. We came off the courts but played with them again, this time with Rosalie as my partner. Then we played once more (after waiting) with Larry as my partner. After playing with Nicholas, Rosalie asked, “How long has he been playing again?” I paused. “About 90 minutes.” She was impressed. “If he sticks with it, he’s going to be really good!”

The last game of the day was Grita and myself versus Nicholas and Stuart. Nicholas hit a few forehands into the net. Stuart stopped the game. “Time for a lesson. Pickleball isn’t like tennis. There are no strings. You need to lift and push the ball with your paddle.” Of course, Nicholas has very limited experience with tennis, being a sailor, but advice never hurts!

We wrapped up play at 12:30 p.m. We’d played 6-7 games and Nicholas had done extremely well for his first time out. Yes, he’d stepped into the kitchen on a volley once, but that’s not unexpected. His volleying and general play was very good. He was a bit frustrated with his play at the end. I know. He’s a perfectionist. I wonder where he gets that…


A few weeks ago, shoes come up as a discussion on the Facebook Pickleball Forum. Someone posted that Costco was having a special of a pair of Kirkland court shoes for $12.99. I went ahead and bought two pair. If they didn’t work for pickleball, I could still just use them for around the house.
[Ok, I have to share something. I’m typing this on a Mac Mini computer running OS 10.12 Sierra. I has predictive typing apparently. When I typed “around” in the sentence above, it very helpfully inserted “around-the-post” for me! Hahaha! I guess the blog writing is taking its toll on my computer! Sorry, computer, I had to change that back to just “around”!]


Shoes about to come off.

I wore the new shoes on Thursday night in Scotts Valley. They seemed to work well. I’d noticed about a week ago that Jerry Louis wears the same shoes. They couldn’t be all that bad then. So three days ago, I kidded Jerry that I was modeling my game after his . . . starting with his shoes and that I spent four hours online tracking down the type he was wearing until I found them then ordered some! Perhaps he took me seriously as he launched into how he modeled his game after another player himself. (I’m not at the point yet where I can adjust my game to be modeled after anyone!) What was particularly interesting was that he shared that took a pair of $120 shoes and his Costco shoes to a pediatrist and she inspected and flexed both pairs around then pronounced that she liked the cheaper shoes better! Jerry’s been wearing them since! (Someone at Pickleball Forum had been talking smack about the Costco shoes, but I don’t think he had ever used them.)

My only beef with the shoes, having worn them twice now, is that the intentionally loose insole seems to bunch up a tiny bit at my left heel. It feels like my sock is folded over—but it’s not. I may stick some strong double-sided tape in my shoe to lock those insoles down.

That said, my right ankle is complaining less, though that may be nothing but a coincidence. As with many things, time will tell!

Jerry also wears elastic ankle supports of some kind. I briefly asked him about those, but I need to follow up.

Brommer Again

After I returned home, I found a message in my inbox from Karen Long that had gone out to the entire club:


Please Join
Santa Cruz Pickleball Club
at Brommer Street Park 
Monday, July 3rd
9am-12pm Club Play
12pm-2pm Potluck
to celebrate the opening of the new pickleball courts!  

Please bring a dish to share and your own beverage 
[The BBQ is available for any of you wishing to grill]

*Utensils, luncheon plates, dessert plates, and napkins will be provided

That’s really good news! The construction must be ahead of schedule since they were original saying it’d take until mid-July. Nice. Now, the trick is I’m going to have a bunch of relatives in town on that day. Aside from the usual annual big 4th of July party, we’re going to be celebrating my parent’s 50th Anniversary. (The true date was this past December but it was problematic with various grandchildren in school in different states.) So maybe, maybe not.

My parents’ wedding reception 1966

Number of days on a court: 38
Number of total hours: 108

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