Adventures of Andrew Lenz and a Yellow Ball

Month: December 2017 (Page 1 of 4)

300 & You Guys Are Ready

Friday, December 29, 2017 (Court Day #108)

I got up and my left hip was aching a bit. I took a couple of ibuprofen—standard operation for me before pickleball—and headed to Brommer Park. It had been weeks since I could manage to go with the demands of work and show staffing. I pulled up at 9:02 with the car read a temperature of 59°. It would warm up to be a beautiful and sunny day. I was looking forward to some stiffer competition.

The Power Game

For the first hour, all skills play together. A few games into the day, as luck would have it, Terry (Long), John (Connor), and a man named Dave (older, tall, mustache) were signed up in a square waiting for a fourth—they got me! Terry and I teamed up. Any time you are teamed up with a 5.0 player, things tend to go well. But John is a regularly-medaling tournament player, he’s no slouch. Dave, I don’t really know, but he was good. I held my own in this game. On one rally at the net, I managed to get the best of John and the ball ended up in his chest. I’ll savor that rarity for a while! Terry and I went up 8-1. And the ball wasn’t just going to Terry either, I got my share. Unfortunately, Dave had gotten severely nauseous and had to leave the game. Dave got replaced by Brian (stocky lefty Brian, not the short wizardly Bryan from Palo Alto). John and Brian scored a few points but Terry and I wrapped up the game. Afterward, back near the schedule board, I thanked John for the game and the challenge. “You played well.” Nice to hear! I did play solidly. I wasn’t a major liability as I had been in the past. I will mention that Terry did correct me a couple of times. “Where ya goin’?” I had advanced toward the net, but Terry was either doing a drive or had an unsuccessful drop shot. “Stay back until we’re sure the ball is in the kitchen.” Good advice, so as not to get caught moving—yep. I did! Someone complimented my play in the waiting area after that one. Tom Sherwood, I think. After I shrugged it off as playing ok—who can claim to play well after having Terry as a partner for comparison?—”I made mistakes.” He said, “They made mistakes too. I watched you, you played really well.”

Baby Deer

Later mid-morning, I was playing in a game where the players were so unskilled, I felt bad serving and/or hitting winners. It was like a tiger eating baby deer. I debated switching to playing left-handed, but opted to just serve easy lob serves. Even with me playing with a weak partner, it was a lopsided game. It ended 11-1 or 11-2. One of the two women opponents sought me/us out after the game and apologized for grouping with us. My partner said, “Any game is a fun game.” I concurred, but I felt like I had to throttle way back.

The poor match in that game does bring up a problem with the sign up board. Everyone was signing up as either Advanced or Adv/Int. No one was signing up as Intermediate. That compressed weak players into the Adv/Int group. It makes for lopsided mismatched games. I don’t know if there is a workable solution though. We’ll see if the club comes up with something.

Boys against Girls

I saw that Sycha and Angie were signed up. I added my name and Eric said, “I want part of that game!” It was a blast. Both are talented players. We started out behind but then got dialed in and started pulling ahead. We won 11-7 or 11-8.

My right knee was experiencing a little sharp pain on the outside, but not significant and not chronic.

Eric and I played Chuck and Karl. Eric and I won 11-0. Oh, in that game, Karl performed a first against me. I had an ATP (around-the-post) shot blocked and returned! They still lost the point, but nonetheless, impressive!

“We need to break you two up! You play too good together!”, came Chuck’s observation. So, for the next game, since there weren’t people waiting, we swapped partners, Chuck and me against Eric and Karl. On one point, Karl lobbed . . . while I try to run down most lobs, I knew I wasn’t going to reach this one in time . . . and Ted yelled, “Paso Robles! Run those down!” I laughed. (Paso Robles, the location of the April tournament.) Chuck and I won 11-3.


Mark (Maria’s husband) was watching. When Chuck and I won ended he called out, “Eric, do you and Andrew want to play another game? Against Ted and me?” We said yes. It would be a good match. They beat us 11-7 the last time we played on Wednesday. We grabbed some water then walked back to the court. Ted (Asian Ted) asked about the Paso Robles tournament coming up. I told him we’d be playing one in Livermore in February first.

This time, the tables were turned. We slowly crawled out ahead to something like 8-4. Service was back and forth. In the end, Eric and I won 11-7, the exact score as last time, but in reverse. Ted said, “You guys are ready.”

300 Hours

On my way out, I stopped to tell Karen with a big smile on my face, “I passed 300 hours of playing pickleball today!” “Are you obsessed?” “Yes!” “You need to go to PA!” I looked quizzically at her. “Pickleball Anonymous!” I chuckled and jogged to my car. It was about 12:35 and I’d told work I’d be there by 1 p.m. I was a little late. Good thing I’m the boss!

I didn’t play perfectly today, but I played about the best I’ve ever played. I can’t complain about that!

Number of days on a court: 108
Number of total hours: 302.5

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Light Crowd

Thursday, December 28, 2017 (Court Day #107)

My wife called me in the afternoon and played a message from our answering machine. It was the Livermore Parks & Rec department seeking my date of birth. Well, that’s good news, they received my envelope. I called them and provided the required information. I also checked with Eric and they had called him too. We are all set!

I spent a few minutes here and there over the course of the day nursing my poor shoes. I chiseled off excess epoxy then sanded the remainder down. Then I epoxied the insoles again, but this time walking around with them before it set. Much better!

Off to Skypark

I arrived at Skypark at 6:34 p.m. The car read 59°—it had been an unusually warm December day. I pulled right into a parking spot next to the courts. Did this mean no pickleball again? Nope. Just a light tennis crowd. And a light pickleball crowd too, it would turn out. With me, there were only 8 people. Jerry Louis was in a game with Mark Dettle, Janet, and Kris. I found myself in a game with Maria against Larry and his wife Sue. I think Maria and I won 11-2. I played really well. Jerry’s game was still going so we played another game, this time with me taking Sue as my partner. This time I didn’t play quite as well (hitting a shot wide, or slamming a winner into the net) and Sue wasn’t playing her best, so we lost that one.

Jerry headed out very early. He said he’d been at the courts at 7 a.m. using a ball feeder in tournament preparation and needed to give his body a break, he said. With Jerry gone, that left only 7 people.

2-on-1 Game

Of note was a “2-on-1” game with Mark and Janet and me as we waited for the doubles game. One person would serve solo to the doubles side normally but the the doubles team could only return the ball into the server’s original service court. If the server won the point, he/she would move to the second service court and serve to the other partner of the doubles team. This would continue until service was lost then the solo player would move to right/receiving position, the right partner would move to the left position, and the left partner would move to the solo position then start serving right to left. Points were only won when serving. Soon, I found myself up 10 to 3 (Mark) to 1 (Janet). Mark worked his way back—he got two points from me when I returned the ball yo the wrong service court!—up to 9 points and Janet gained a couple more when the doubles game ended and we were up. I was actually kind of sad abandoning the 2-on-1 game. It was a fun drill.

The last game was Kris and me against Maria and Janet. Mark (the closer) waited patiently for us to finish. It was a fun game with a lot of laughing.

Things wrapped up shortly after 8:30.

It was an ok performance by me tonight. Not stellar but not rotten either.

The shoes held up great. Finally! And it looks like I’ll easily break my goal of 300 hours in 2017.

Number of days on a court: 107
Number of total hours: 299

To start at the beginning of this blog click on “1st Post” in the menu above.


Wednesday, December 27, 2017 (Court Day #106)

I put on my court shoes. Uh. Problem. I switched to my old pair with the tread worn off instead. More about that later.

I walked onto the court about 9:20—I got caught on the phone with my wife while still in my car.

The first game was Eric and Jane (tall blonde woman) against Rolando and me. I was playing well right off the bat. I was playing a very clean game. Rolando was executing third shot drives, but they weren’t working. Mid-game I stopped him. “Rolando, this is a rec game. Go ahead and work on your drop shots. You can get away with drives to players at the net depending on their skill level. These two are too good. They’re just smacking them angled off the court.” Rolando is such a nice guy, I hate being critical, but it was a key coaching moment. I used to do the same thing myself when I was starting. Rolando and I did fine. Eric and Jane won, but they didn’t “walk away” with the game.

Eric and I played a match against Ted (the Asian fellow who usually plays at Brommer) and Tom Sherwood. Ted said, “I heard you’ll be playing in a tournament.” Eric and I won 11-0. It wasn’t all in one service, there was back and forth, but the result wasn’t much in doubt once we got started. Tom told me midway though, “You are playing very well.” “That’s what happens when I play two days in a row!” Eric and I didn’t bother to ask to switch at 6 points, we just played the entire game with the sun in our eyes. “There’s a gold medal right there!”, said Ted afterward.

The next game was Ted and Mark (Marie’s husband) against us. Eric and I found ourselves down 5-1. Ted liked to lob with the sun at his back. At 6-1, we switched sides! (As an aside, the sun is noticeably lower in the sky than during summer. This makes the sun even more of a factor in many high balls.) Eric and I clawed back to 7-9, but Ted and Mark managed to score a couple of points and wrapped up the game 11-7. That was a fun game though. Challenging for both sides.

Visitor from Denver

There was a guy named Michael visiting from Denver. I offered to play with him as my partner against Laura (Terry’s wife). I know what it’s like to be a visitor at an unknown pickleball club. I called over, “Sharyl! Want to play?” We had our fourth. When I was about to receive the ball, he lined up about three to four feet behind the kitchen line. “Uh, oh.”, I thought. I did my best to overcome the weaknesses in his game. Nice guy, though needs to learn more pickleball strategy and execution.


I told Eric that our Livermore registration was mailed yesterday. I told him that I thought it’d be a good idea if we sign up for Paso Robles when it opens rather than waiting until after we play at Livermore. “It’ll be better to ask to change grades than to try to get them to add us altogether.” He agreed. “Let’s sign up for 3.0.” I agreed—we can always ask to move to 3.5 later.

Cut Short

Eric signed up in a square on the scheduling board in “advanced red”. “Eric! You signed up in red! Well, if you are signing up in red, I’m signing up in red too!” I added my name under his in red.

I checked my phone for messages. There was a few. The important one was from my shop manager Jackie: “Thomas never showed up so it’s just me and Sky in the back and it’s been a little busy.” Uh, oh. Not good. We try to keep a staff of at least four and Sky has only about a month of experience. Yeah. When you are part of the store owner’s family, you can work whenever you want! Yeah, right. Not.

I told Eric I was going to have to leave for work. Eric’s disappointed response: “Awwww!” That brought a smile to my face. It’s nice to be wanted!


Back to my shoes. Well, yesterday, I used epoxy to glue my insoles into my shoes. Since it didn’t hold last time, I used more. I debated slipping the shoes on to make a good connection with the glue, but opted not to, figuring it might ooze the glue sideways and over too large of an area. Mistake! When I tried on the shoes this morning, I could easy feel the lumps of epoxy under the heel and ball of each foot. Bad. Later in the day, I was able to remove the insoles. Now I’ve got to scrape off the dried epoxy and try again. *sigh*

Number of days on a court: 106
Number of total hours: 297

To start at the beginning of this blog click on “1st Post” in the menu above.

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