Adventures of Andrew Lenz and a Yellow Ball

Month: January 2018 (Page 1 of 4)

The Show

Wednesday, January 31, 2018 (Court Day #119)

Speaking of bugs (the title of my last blog entry), I caught one. I started coming down with a mild sore throat on Saturday late afternoon and it bloomed into a full-on one in the middle of the night. (Was that why my game was off the last time out?) By Tuesday, the sore throat had partially recovered to a mild one but I was still dealing with having to clear my throat a lot and my voice was husky.

As for my ankle, it’s 3 weeks as of today and it’s still sore when I do certain motions with it. I hurt it pushing myself up and out of bed a few days ago, so it’s simple things, not necessarily pickleball, that is possibly hindering recovery. It is improving, but it’s slow going.


I arrived at Derby Park at about 9:15 a.m. (I know, slow moving, but hey, I’m recovering!) I put on my ankle brace and was the odd fifth man out. A relative newcomer, Jennie, showed up and we dinked and otherwise warmed up. Soon we were in our first game.

I spent most of the morning in and around games where I was either the best player on the court or one of the two best players. In some cases, I was obviously on a whole ‘nother level from those I was playing with.

Eric arrived fairly early. We played a game mid-morning against Allan and Jeanne and went down 3-0. I was thinking, “This is not good. If we’re going into a tournament and this is how we’re performing, it’ll be bad!” But things turned around and we won 11-4. Whew.

Eric and I challenged Kevin and Kent. We put up a battle, but still lost by roughly a 2:1 ratio. Still, I was super happy to be able to go up against an unquestionably superior team. Since it wasn’t a cakewalk for them and they had to earn the win, our opponents enjoyed the game as well.

We played against Dave and Ted. We won 11-1. If I hadn’t blown a relatively easy shot, we would have shut them out. Dave and Ted wanted to play again, but I noticed Kent and Kevin across the courts in the waiting area. There were only three nets left up by then. I told Eric and he agreed that we should try to get in another hard game. Kent wasn’t keen at first, but he agreed after Kevin agreed to play. Dave and Ted were understanding.

The Show

As the other games finished, the bench filled up to watch the relative newbies (us) take on the experienced hands. Eric and I have been playing about a year—my one year anniversary was two days ago and Eric has a couple months head start on me—and Kent and Kevin have years of experience and have both played in tournaments. Kevin at the 4.0 level and Kent at least 3.5.

Eric and I took a 2-0 lead, but it wouldn’t last. It was 3-2, in their favor, not long after. This one was a back and forth match up. Each side battling for each point. There were some fantastic rallies at the net with furious attacks back and forth. It was neck and neck. Eric and stayed in this game. When I noticed it, it was fun hearing the cheers and “ahhhhh”s from the half dozen people watching intently.

Kevin can deliver a fast and low serve that can be returned into the net if you aren’t careful. I intentionally bent my knees a bit more and lowered my paddle from in front of my abdomen to closer to my knees. It seemed to help for me. I realized shortly after that this was a tactic that I should share with partner, so I told Eric what I was doing.

We even took the lead 8-7. They got a couple of points though, leading 9-8. Then 10-8. Eric and I scored a point. 10-9. Could we pull off an major upset? Not this time. They won 11-9. Play wrapped up about a quarter after 12.


During the game, Kent made repeated comments about us having “fast hands”. Afterward, Kent said, “You guys are playing really well. We had to keep on the top of our game. What level did you sign up for?” I told him we’d be playing in 3.0 in the tournament in Livermore. “Some people will be mad at you. I think you’ll do very well. You’ll get bumped up.” We definitely don’t want people mad at us for sandbagging instead of signing up for a harder skill level. This is our first real tournament and we don’t know where we fit. Beth Black and the Longs said for us to start at 3.0.

A few minutes later, outside the courts, Kent mentioned that Paso Robles is a venue with tough competition, so we might end up right in the mix at 3.0 there. So many unknowns! I told Kent that I’d received an email notice that Paso Robles was full and they are only taking players for their waiting list, so changing grades from 3.0 to 3.5 might be impossible even if we decided to do that.

During that last game, Eric said, “Nice left hand switch.” I didn’t even realized I’d done it. Switching the paddle to my left hand for sharp angled shots at the net is apparently becoming so automatic, I don’t even think about it. That’s good. I forgot to mention previously that at Brommer, I’d tried to hit an overhead with my left hand and it went wild. What was dumb about that is Eric was to my left. I should have just let it go and had him get it. Trust your partner!

Number of days on a court: 119
Number of total hours: 339.5

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Saturday, January 27, 2018 (Court Day #118)

Beth Black texted a group of ten people yesterday inviting them to play at Brommer this morning. The interview I was to conduct was canceled due to my interviewee still getting over the flu—which meant I could play after all! I stopped by work briefly then arrived at the Brommer Park courts just after 9 a.m.

Some days, you are the windshield.
Some days, you are the bug.
Today, Eric and I were both bugs.

Overall, we made a lot of mistakes. Drop shots into the net, hitting drives long and out of the court, slamming winners into the net, you name it. If we play in the tournament like we did today, we’ll have a rough go!

We played Chris (tennis pro) and Dave (Asian Dave) and got absolutely clobbered 11-4. We were lucky to get 4 points. We knew it was going to be a tough game. Eric told them before the game, “We need a game where we get our asses kicked.” What I should have done was video recorded the game to see where we needed work. But almost everything needed help in our games!

We lost to Stuart and Bev. Also weak players, but definitely winnable. On a normal day, I believe we would have won that one. Alas.

All that said, we managed to beat Kim and Beth Black in both games we played against them. They are not weak players, so there’s some consolation in that. And we did win an amazing rally . . . lobs, awkward half volleys, drop shots, fast volley battle at the net, wow. Now, if we could do that all the time!

Hopefully, just a stumble today.


The turnout was interesting. Probably half a dozen people came down from Palo Alto to play. such as Bryan (Asian former pingpong player). I said, “Hey, Bryan!” and he replied, “Hey, Andrew!” Nice that he remembered my name given that he’s only seen me three times and he’s a really, really good player.

The courts separated into intermediates on the side closest to the parking lots and the advanced players on the two courts closest to the playground. Today, there was no question which side I belonged on. And amongst the advanced players today, even on a good day, I was on the right courts!

The scene as I left. Three tennis players and about twenty pickleball players.

I left just after noon, raced home and then on to work.


As I told Eric later in an email:

“Just some perspective. If I told you six months ago that we’d beat Beth Black and Kim TWICE and ON A BAD DAY, you’d be pretty stoked, right?”

The reply?

“Good point!”

Number of days on a court: 118
Number of total hours: 336.5

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

Another ATP. Ho, hum.

Friday, January 26, 2018 (Court Day #117)

Thursday Rain

On a whim, I checked to see if more people had signed up in the men’s doubles at Livermore . . . but it happened to show that mixed doubles is full in both 3.0 and 3.5. I immediately sent an email message to Melody. She’s been waiting to get a partner for women’s doubles before committing to playing on Sunday with me and didn’t get a women’s partner to commit. She said if she finds one, then she and I can go on the waiting list for mixed doubles. Regardless, Eric and I are registered and listed:
Eric and me at the top of the list. Hopefully, it’s that way after the tournament!

At 6:28, I left my house for Scotts Valley hoping to get some play in before the possibility of rain at 8 p.m. I got about halfway and noticed some tiny water spots on the windshield. Any hope for that being the extent of it were dashed 30 seconds later when a heavy rain drenched my car. I took the next exit and followed the back roads then onto the freeway for home.


I arrived at Brommer at 9:05. Sunny, but mid-40s.

I got have a great game right off the bat with Dan Bliss as my partner against Stuart and Leslie. Dan and I won though it wasn’t a lopsided game. Dan said some kind words about my play.

Playin’ with Dave

I had another early high-powered game, Dave Cox and I took on Kevin and Ted H. Dave and I won 11-8. After the game, Dave told me that I was playing well.

Dave and I took on Stuart and Rich. Dave and won 11-8. Stuart was not happy when they started falling behind. Stuart complained about the sun, but when I offered to switch sides, he declined. Stuart complained about the shadows, but when I offered to have us move to an open court out of the shadow of the trees, he declined. Afterward he complained about us picking on “the crippled guy” (him), but I know I wasn’t intentionally targeting him and I’m not sure if I lobbed even once. (I rarely lob intentionally.) Maybe Dave was, in fact, targeting Stuart, I don’t know. Afterward, I reiterated Rich that we had offered to move. “But if we did that, we’d have nothing to blame the loss on!”

Last Three

I got another ATP shot today. (I know it’s not all that many, but I’ve already forgotten how many of those I’ve done.) I was playing with Jukka against Grita and a woman named Nancy. Nancy hit it shallow left to right and I hit it around the post and Grita into the back corner of their court. ATP. (In an earlier game, I attempted an ATP using my left hand around the left post, but unfortunately, I couldn’t get the ball to angle back in and it paralleled the sideline. Drat.) Jukka and I played three games against Grita and Nancy and we lost all three! Jukka said, “I made too many mistakes.” Of course, I wasn’t perfect either! I have to admit, I was starting to get a bit tired at the end there.

We were the last ones playing and finished up at 12:23 p.m.

Home then work!

Number of days on a court: 117
Number of total hours: 333.5

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

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