Misadventures of Andrew Lenz and a yellow ball

Month: September 2017 (Page 2 of 5)

Good Hands

Friday, September 22, 2017 (Court Day #72)

Just before the 9 a.m. starting time, I pulled into the Brommer Park parking lot. I was expecting more people, but there was only one game going. It was Leslie (site coordinator) with a guy I’d seen once before against two unfamiliar faces.

I played a number of games, including with and against Stuart. In a game against him, I was the starting server. Laughing, “You are going doooown, Stuart!” I think he had Sandra as a partner and I had Angie. We lost that first point, so about 30 second later came: “You’re going doooown next time, Stuart!” Though Angie and I did go on to win that game!

I played a game with Tom, the shorter 4.0 player with the killer serves. He was my partner and won probably 4 points just off of his serves. It was a very quick game. Our opponents served no more than three times, and it might have even only been twice!

At about 10 a.m., the orange marker went away and the three skill level markers came out. I have hopes that someday, I’ll be a red. In the meantime, I’m a strong blue.

Later in the morning, Greg and I played a game against his wife Angie and Sycha. I love Greg and Angie. They are both super nice people. Sycha too. This was a great game. Sycha and Angie are good players and it was a battle. They pulled out ahead initially but Greg and I worked our way back. I was playing well today. Not perfect, but well. Enough so that Greg said, “I should let you take all the shots!” That’s always a nice thing to hear.
It was a busy gathering. Once things ramped up, there were 32 people on the courts at all times and we had 15-20 people waiting.

People waiting to play. Cam is closest. Tim is in the woven hat and dark blue shirt. Off to the left, the man sitting in the white shirt and wide hat is Gary and to his right is Greg. There were at least half a dozen waiting people that aren’t shown in this shot.

There was a first today. There was a lob coming down and I completely whiffed slamming it. It dropped at my feet!  Yes, the sun was high up and I was on the “sun in your face” side, but still. *sigh* Embarrassing!

As game foursomes were forming up Sandra invited Beth Black to join her, me and Jeff. Beth told me, “You have good hands.” Kidding, I held my hands out in front of her for review. “You should be a hand model! You should wear oven mitts!” Beth was complaining that sometimes when she plays at Skypark no balls get hit to her, “They just want to win. I want to get better.” I ecouraged her,  “I’ll hit everything to you.” And I did. Well, not everything, but everything I could manage to. During the game, after a rally at the net, she said, “See? That’s what I’m talking about. Good hands.” I played very solidly in that game, not too many mistakes. I did hit one to her too high over the net which she slammed back for a winner. Jeff said, “You can hit it to Beth, just don’t hit it like that!” And I mostly didn’t. Still Jeff and I lost that one.

Sandra (in black) against Jeff (in black) with two guys who I don’t know. Yes, courts all solidly full.

My last game of the day was a singles with visor Jeff while we were (hopefully) waiting for a couple players to join us. He took the lead 3-1 until I adjusted to the singles game. I won 11-4. Ball placement is critical in singles, there just isn’t time to cover all the space you need to cover. You have to think a shot or two ahead. In doubles, you can often get away with not planning so much.

Today was a very enjoyable outing. While I played a few of games with weaker players, it was a mostly with opponents who provided a challenge.

Around the Post

Oh, there was one game after I won a point, when an opponent exclaimed, “That was a great around the post shot!” I remember the ball being off to the right. Funny thing is, whatever happened was so natural, I don’t even remember the shot! I can’t picture the path of the ball. Based on what was said, it must have been an ATP shot, but darned if I could say it was over or around! Such a bummer that I can’t mentally confirm it! It’s like giving a great speech in your sleep. Oh, well! I’ll just have to do it again!

I have to get my video camera out again to provide a record of where I am.

At 12:30, I was on the road to home then work! 

Number of days on a court: 72
Number of total hours: 206

Click here to start at the beginning of this blog: PickleballJourney 

Dipping the Toe

Monday, September 19, 2017 (Court Day #71)

I took a trip to the pacific northwest over the weekend with extended family. We left on Thursday and flew back on Sunday. I knew it was going to be a short and full trip. Nonetheless, I packed a paddle and a ball. Yeah. Call me hooked.



Last night (Sunday) after getting back from our trip, I spent about 10-15 minutes in the garage hitting a ball in my marked out “net and kitchen”. I spent part of the time hitting with my left hand and switching back and forth between left hand and right hand. I had to get my paddle “fix”!


I arrived at Brommer Park at about 9:10. I guess it takes longer to get there than I typically figure… about 15-20 minutes realistically.


I got to introduce myself to “Tony”. Tony is probably around 30-35 years old. He wears a woven brimmed hat to protect himself from the sun. Tony plays with the advanced players. I see him now and then. He’s been around since I started, though we’d never played. Between 9 and 10 a.m., the single orange pen was out for the schedule board and the red, blue and balcony pens were still stowed away. That’s how I ended up on a court with Tony. He’s fun and upbeat. He laughed at my jokes, so thumbs up to Tony. Tony plays well. I didn’t have him as a partner, only as an opponent, so he kept me on my toes.

Big John

Also got to meet John. John is a regular advanced player. He’s tall and, like me, could stand to lose a few pounds. He’s very good. He’s not super quick on his feet, but he’s very precise and gets around well enough to be a serious weapon. He and I played against a visiting woman Susi and regular Leslie. (Leslie is currently a site supervisor for Brommer.) John and I won pretty solidly. John was most of that win, though I played decently. I did get a “Nice backhands!” from John after I won a quick back-and-forth rally at the net against Leslie. John makes hardly any unforced errors. Early on in the game, John asked me to shift to my right when I was forward on the right side as he was receiving: “I want to be able to hit the ball to her backhand.” He had to remind me once more, but after that I got it. Learned something new today.


Another newbie today was Cam. He said he’d played a while back and was returning it the game. I’d put Cam is in his late 20s. Maybe early 30s. Tall, thin, redhead. He said he works for himself doing construction. We played one game as partners and lost convincingly. We played a second and we won by two points. Big improvement. I offered what advice I could during the games. Hit to the opponent who is back. Hold the paddle up in backhand position while at the net. Lobs are low percentage. Driving at a skilled opponent already at the net is low percentage. He’ll do very well with time.

Dipping my toe into games the big boys

Later, I played a game with lefty Steve against Chuck and “Big John”. It’s nice when you are respected enough to be included in a game with advanced players. (That respect may or may not be deserved, but it is what it is.) Steve and I lost 11-6 or something. John is a machine. It’s a good status check to play against really good players. I have work to do!

The last game of the day teamed Stuart and myself against Chuck and the visiting woman, Susi. All the club balls were packed away—by Stuart no less—but Stuart had a ball in his pack. Stuart reappeared with his ball. Orange. It was an indoor Onix ball with larger holes. With it a bit breezy, we knew the ball would present one additional dimension of challenge, but it wasn’t worth the effort to swap it out. I brought one of my own (an Onix Pure) and Chuck said he had one of his own too. Stuart and I won pretty easily. Stuart wanted to make sure that I mentioned in my blog post that he successfully lobbed over Chuck’s head three times. There you go, Stuart! Stuart reminded me to keep my paddle up in the backhand position at the net. You’d think I’d reliably implement advice I give to others! Stuart also thought I should narrow my stance at the net—that I can only lean instead of being able to easily move my feet to get to balls. I really do need to get my video camera back out again.

Site Supervisor

Karen Long said, “I hear you are going to be our new Sunday site coordinator.” “As long as there are backups, I can do it. I can’t open the court every Sunday.” She reassured me that there would be others. “You’ll me for about six months or so. I want to give back. I don’t want to be a mooch all the time.” She laughed at the mooch comment.

Today was a “climb day”. Overall, I played well.

Play wrapped up at 12:45.

Aches and Pains

Overall, health is decent. My hips are hurting a bit again and I have a mild pull in my right groin muscle and left quad, but nothing to keep me from playing. I’m cutting back on soda and sweets and see if I can lose 25 pounds. That’d get me down to “fighting weight”!

Number of days on a court: 71
Number of total hours: 202.5

Click here to start at the beginning of this blog: PickleballJourney 


Wednesday, September 13, 2017 (Court Day #70)

I was at Derby Park by 9:05. It was a drizzly morning with rain predictions. Dave was setting up and visor Tom were there helping. It was just us three. Stuart added a fourth. The drizzle seemed to slow down the arrivals some. Even then, it was a light attendance day. The sixth net never got set up.

The first game was Dave and myself against Tom and Stuart. I think Dave was even less warmed up than I was—we lost. There was one point where Stuart slammed the ball at me and started celebrating . . . when I sent the ball back, he was taken by surprise. It did end up in the net, but nonetheless, I was a bit quicker than he was expecting! We used Tom’s Dura 40 ball for that game. As I told him, it’s good for me to get used to balls used in tournament since I’d like to play in one someday.

I played a variety of games over the next few hours.

There was a new guy Steve who someone said lives in Los Gatos but used to live in Ireland and Canada. He’s a very strong lefty player. He’s better than I am.

The court started getting slippery and we called the game with Steve and me leading 3-2 over Terri and Grita. Steve said, “This is my first rain in Santa Cruz!” I was on the road about 11:45 to Togo’s for lunch with Eric and Ted.

I got a text from Oleg asking if I wanted to join them tonight for a game—they weren’t at the courts this morning—but given that I already have plans tonight, I had to turn him down.

How was today? It was an ordinary day. Not poor, not great. Time on the court. Today, I occasionally told myself, “treat this point as if you are in a tournament”. And that helps focus. Just playing games helps some, but focused practice helps more.

Number of days on a court: 70
Number of total hours: 199

Click here to start at the beginning of this blog: PickleballJourney 

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