Wednesday, August 30, 2017 (Court Day #62)
First, a comment on something I’ve been thinking about since my last post. There have been a number of instances where a ball hit down the middle between my partner on my right and me on the left should have been taken by me with my forehand, but I held off leaving it for my partner to get—only they couldn’t and didn’t. Why do I do that? Well, it’s not necessarily a lack of aggression, per se, that is, I pouch and slam given the clear opportunity.
BUT, coming into this sport, I was the weak link. Where a ball was in reach of both of us, my (more skilled) partner would take it. Often, my partner would place himself or herself where he or she could cover balls hit in my direction—maybe by dangerously positioning themselves closer to the center of the court.
Now, it’s seven months later. I have over 175 hours playing pickleball. I’m not a newbie. I don’t need someone to hedge into my responsibility (court space) . . . and I don’t think people are. (I’ll comment on this “trust issue” more in a minute.) But, my brain has been trained to submissive in terms of balls flying between my partner and me. It’s a habit I need to break. I need to be more aggressive/dominant on those between shots—mostly when it’s my forehand and when I’m not 100% sure my partner has a a shot and that shot is a confident one.
Back to trust. There was a game recently where I almost turned to my partner between points and told him, “Trust me. Trust me to cover my side.” He had come too deep over to my side, taken my easy backhand shot and left his side of the court wide open—which our opponents took full advantage of! As partners—a team—we need to trust our partners to do their job. (Obviously, there will be times when we are joined with a weaker player—like games where we lose even though I made only one or two mistakes the entire game. Those, I remember that it’s just social play and I just do my personal best. I’m not going to pouch shots as a ball hog and keep it from being fun for my partner.) Trust isn’t not communicating. If it’s between us and I want them to take it, I’ll say, “Take it!” Most people say, “Yours”—I’m a rebel, I guess.
I arrived at Derby Park at 9:15. It was overcast—a sight for sore eyes—but it burned off in short order. Fortunately, I was back to my routine of putting on sunscreen and, in fact, put on SPF 70 for extra protection for my sunburn from Sunday!
Allan and I played a game against Grita and (English accent) Alan. “You and me? Ooookay…. this will be a challenging game!” And it was. It was back and forth. Allan stopped me at one point. “You need to stay over on your side of the court more. You are taking my forehand with your backhand.” Which I had just done and set up a winner for our opponent by hitting it too high. I’ve probably mentioned it, but generally, it’s practice for a player’s forehand responsibility to extend a foot or two past the center line into his or her partner’s side of the court. The idea is that a forehand shot is almost always going to be better than someone’s backhand. I tend cover too much ground with my backhand (when I’m on the right) and not enough with my forehand (when I’m on the left). In this particular game, Allan and I pulled an upset and won the game 11-9.
Stuart and me vs. Jerry Louis and John P.
Stuart was encouraging me to advance to the kitchen on the third shot. Here’s the thing, I’m used to playing with partners who don’t have reliable third shot drops. Stuart isn’t perfect, but has an overall strong game and a very reliable third shot drop. Like he probably makes 10 for every 1 that he misses. In other words, I don’t have to be on high alert for a slam back at me when he does a drop and can dash up to the kitchen almost without reservation. It took a while for that to get into my head. In the end, Stuart and I won handily. I think it was 11-5 or 11-6.
Grita and me vs. Kent and Alan
This was a game I was really looking forward to. Especially after Greg and I got slaughtered by Kent and a partner recently. I really wanted an opportunity to show Kent that I wasn’t as bad as that shutout game seemed to indicate. And I made good of the opportunity. I wasn’t perfect—like slamming an easy shot into the net—but I was fairly solid. Like in a dinking battle with Kent across from me and I dinked it almost as a passing shot out from his forehand . . . he got it, but it was too high back and I whacked it with my backhand between the two of them for a winner. Grita and I won by about a 2:1 ratio. Alan had a bad cough but said he felt fine, just sounded bad. Though I’m not convinced that Alan was at the top of his game. Oh, and Grita, who is not known for her soft game, had a great dink rally. Even Kent commented on it.
Grita and Terri vs. Jerry (no-backhand Jerry) and me.
I need to learn Jerry’s last name. It’s not fair to call him “no-backhand” Jerry. He does have a backhand, just not a super one. Jerry’s about my height—maybe just a touch shorter—with white hair and an upbeat personality and mellow down-to-earth attitude. Jerry and I were leading. Terri got to serve and went on a very long run of points. Here’s the rub. After they’d scored 2-3 points off her serve, she hit a serve short. It was just short of the line of the service court. My brain wasn’t quick enough to simply call it and the ball was in play. But even if the ball had hit the line, the line is still part of the kitchen and would also have been an illegal serve. As it was that run of points pretty much cost us the game. It’s all learning experience. I’ll put it in my hat and next time be prepared to quickly call a failed serve. I didn’t mind losing to Terri and Grita. Both are good sports.
Grita and Terri vs. John P. and me.
We convinced John P. to play one more game. “I can’t guarantee that I’ll do much more than stand there.” He was tired, but will to play to allow us to get that last game in. Of course, John is a competitive soul and was soon found dashing around the court as one would expect him to! This was a back and forth game but John and I eked out a win.
After the game, Allan—who was watching along with Terri’s husband Gary—said, “You played well. You should be proud of yourself.”
Today was a climb day, not a plateau day. That’s good. Play wrapped up at 12:15.
Drop shots are just amazingly effective. And I’m continuing to get better with them. Not near as reliable as someone like Stuart, but slowly improving.
76 hours. So a byproduct of me keeping track of playing time is I also know exactly how many hours of wear are on the shoes I use for playing pickleball. I only put them on when I play. They have have an hour outside of travel to, playing, and travel from pickleball, but that’s about it. Court play is obviously going to harder on the shoes than walking around. Here’s what the Costco shoes look like after 76 hours of hard pickleball play. Now, not everyone plays as hard as I do, but I can’t imagine most people are that far off from me. What’s curious is why I wear my left shoe down noticeably faster than my right shoe. Maybe my body is imbalanced as well as my brain!
I have my son Nicholas (UCLA Applied Mathematics) help me at work while he’s home for the summer. I had him running a new cable (four phone lines) among other projects. He told me that he had some trouble wiring up one of the four new wire pairs. Here’s a photo:
I can understand why. Major spaghetti! Actually, it’s not quite as bad as it looks, except for one thing. Some professional phone installer guy got in there and, for one of the phone lines, rewired all the wires to each other with couplers instead of to a single mounted screw. (Ok, technically, it’s two screws.) I’m going to rip this all out and redo it closer to the original (pre-phone tech) way. Then it’ll be much easier to know what’s in use, what’s not, and add/remove wires.
It’s funny running a family business. You never know what you are going to be doing. One minute, you are HR. Another, because you are shorthanded, you end up helping unload a truck. Next, you are writing code to be able to import products into the point-of-sale database. Then you doing graphic design. Then reviewing supplier invoices. Then answering a product technical question for a customer. Then you are a phone technician. You never know.
I found out tonight on the Facebook pickleball forum that the actor George Clooney plays pickleball. It was even mentioned in an Esquire magazine article:
It’s hard for the sport to stay obscure with exposure like that!
Number of days on a court: 62
Number of total hours: 179.5