Adventures of Andrew Lenz and a Yellow Ball

Month: August 2019 (Page 1 of 5)

Future Mixed Doubles Partner?

August 29, 2019 (Court Day #301)

60th day out playing lefty. Tennis elbow.

I couldn’t escape work immediately, so I arrived in Skypark just before 7 p.m. instead of the 6:30 start time. Parking was impacted so I parked in weeds outside of the courts.

The City of Scotts Valley was doing work on the courts so they’d had cordoned off half the courts where they were patching the cracks and had installed ground sleeves for the permanent pickleball net posts. Fortunately, the patching was dry so we ignored the plastic yellow tape and set up nets as we normally do, so we had plenty of courts to play on.

I’d remembered to pack the new sample safety glasses I’d been gifted earlier in the week from my friend at Coast Paper & Supply. They worked great tonight. I’m sure they are cheap enough to replace as they scratch and not feel guilty about spending a bunch of money.

Sharyl and I got to play a game against Stuart and Dave D. Dave was obviously keeping the ball in play. After I won a point, I told Dave, “If you keep hitting patty-cake shots at me, I’m going to win the point! Hit me here!” as I pointed to my chest! I can’t remember who won the game, maybe it was Sharyl and me, maybe it wasn’t, but the outcome wasn’t really a good evaluation of relative skill with Dave not putting away shots that could have been winners.

Wayne and I played a game against Bruce and Rochelle. We got clobbered, I don’t even know if we scored a single point. It wasn’t my best game. I did miss a few shots that I should have made, no doubt, especially early in the game. Wayne made his share for sure.


The next game, I had my first ever match playing with a 50-ish woman named Sue. Sue said she’s a 4th grade teacher in San Jose. Sue is fairly tall, maybe 5’9″. She said she started playing this summer, mostly at Willowbrook. She’s a solid intermediate player already. She and I were clobbering Wayne and Terry—the male Terry, not the woman. Terry complained, “Wayne told me you were playing badly tonight!” I teased Wayne, “I play badly when a ball is slammed back at my feet!” Wayne tends to not come up to the kitchen line as aggressively as he should and likes to drive every shot. Driving works with weaker players, but is less successful with good players. (There are exceptions at the highest level. The reigning women’s doubles champions, the mother and daughter team, drove around 75% of their third shots in the gold medal match. Unusual, but apparently effective when you have a strong drive and your opponents may not be expecting it.) Sue and I won that game handily.

Sue said she’d taken some lessons with Cal. Coaching always speeds up the learning process, especially with a newbie.

Family Connection

I learned that Shawnte is Carol’s son. Another mother/son “team”! (Robin and Tom are another.) His dad Norm, whom I’d never met, came tonight. He and I played together against his son and Wayne. When it came up that I wasn’t naturally lefty, Norm said his wife Carol had mentioned me as inspirational for her to maybe learn to play lefty.

Later, Sue and I played against Stuart and Dave D. While we did win the close game, I told her later, “Dave was taking it easy on us. He passed on easily attackable shots.” There weren’t a ton of those though and Stuart was playing more seriously—though kidding around between points. It was a good and fun game. Sue had some excellent crosscourt sharply-angled dinks.

One Last Game

Tristan and Juls played the last game of the night against Sue and me. It was a close battle, but Sue and I won. There was a shot where I pulled Juls off the court to her right with a crosscourt shot. Tristan had shifted over, but not enough. Sue hit Juls’ return into the hole between them. I coached young Tristan, “If your partner is off the court, you need to come over more.” “But I was across the line!” “Come over more. Between you is the easy shot. Angling is the hard shot. You should come across the line and fill the hole. I shifted way over onto the other half of the court twice in tournaments and it’s worked both times.” This was another good and fun game.

As we were grabbing our things to leave, I told Sue, “Someday down the road, I’m going to ask you to be my mixed doubles partner for a tournament.” She replied without hesitation, “Yes, please!”

On the way out, Juls said, “You are amazing with your left hand.”

My serving was quite good tonight. (For lefty.) I can’t remember missing any serves. Maybe one, but not sure. It doesn’t stick in my mind. I was regularly serving deeper. That’s a good thing. I’m still nowhere near spinning my shots or consistently and accurately placing my shots though.

I thanked Mark Dettle as he stowed away the last of the equipment. I was in my car at 9:05 then on my way home.

I could probably get away with playing tomorrow morning at Brommer, but I’m taking Saturday off to go to the Scottish highland games in Pleasanton. It’s bad for staff morale if my staff’s boss takes too much time off. I’m going to work.

Number of days on a court: 301
Number of total hours: 832

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300. Milestone.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019 (Court Day #300)

59th day out playing lefty. Tennis elbow.

I got to Derby at 9:18. Three of my staff had called in and said they couldn’t come to work—one is a student and stayed up late studying for a summer class final and still needed to study, another was working promotional materials (like videos) for an upcoming local music performance, and a third was sick. Regardless, we still had enough to cover.

I totally forgot that today was going to be my 300th time out on a pickleball court otherwise, I would have told people! Oops.

Kevin, Dean and Leslie appeared. None of them typically come, so when you get three, that means that they talked to each other and arranged it! Maybe they couldn’t get a fourth in advance so they came to club play to find one.

I hit my first ATP shot left handed, or at least, I think it’s my first. Around the left post as a forehand. Fun!

Ted B. and I played against Tony and Wayne and we beat them 11-6. I’m slowly coming along. If I can’t play righty, at least I can try to get better lefty while I suffer on. As we moved off the court after our game, Ted said to me, “You played well.” Yep. I played about as well left-handed as Ted plays with his natural hand.

My right knee is still a little sore. I don’t expect it to be chronic and it doesn’t bother me when playing, so that’s good. My right ankle doesn’t seem to be bothering me much at all these days. I count my blessings.

Scotts Valley

Sharyl sent out a message to those who asked to be on her email list for Scotts Valley pickleball play.

“In case you haven’t heard the permanent Pickleball courts at Skypark are under construction now. Court 4 at the far end of Skypark will soon have 4 permanent courts, and Court 3 will be stripped for both tennis and Pickleball.

We will have limited access tomorrow but still should be about to use 4-6 courts while the courts are being renovated.  
Time: 6:30-8:30pm tomorrow Thursday at Skypark come on out!”


One pair of shoes I ordered off of eBay never came. I contacted him once when they didn’t come and he said he’d take care of it personally. Today, the seller told me the shoes were lost in transit and he’d cancel the order and provide a refund. No refund yet.

Number of days on a court: 300
Number of total hours: 830

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Doing Better on the Court

Sunday, August 25, 2019 (Court Day #299)

58th day out playing lefty. Tennis elbow.

This was the first day that I was honest-to-goodness late to open. 9:01. Eric S. was already there setting up, thankfully. I got out the blower and got to work blowing off the courts. Things were hopping right off the bat with a number of players raring to go.

There was a man I recognized, Shmuel Thaler. Shmuel—who signed up on the court board as “Shmu”—has been a staff photographer for the local Santa Cruz Sentinel newspaper for over 30 years. When our building at work caught on fire in 2002, Shmuel was there snapping shots right behind the firefighters. In 2012, when I tipped off the Sentinel about my sister’s father-in-law’s involvement with the civil rights movement back in the 1960s, they sent Shmuel to take a photo of Paul and his wife, Pat. (The accompanying article is pay-to-view these days, but the photo was reused three years later and you can see it here.) Shmuel said he’d played pickleball about ten times already, though none at Derby. I have to admit that I thought I’d recognized him previously before amongst the throngs, but it was across a series of courts and the opportunity to confirm his identity didn’t present itself.

I warmed up with Shmuel and then played a game against him. He’s already off to a fast start. He’s going to do just fine. He needs to get himself up to the kitchen faster—a super common newbie mistake—but he’s quite good getting the ball back over the net. Very promising! He’ll make a strong adversary on the court 6-12 months from now.

I had a handful of people ask me how the arm was coming along . . . Charles, Tom (Robin’s son), Terry, Tom B. . . . people are kind and caring. Charles had seen me at the tournament earlier this month and thought to himself, “Andrew is really putting away shots! Oh! He’s playing right-handed!” (Unfortunately, it was not to last.)

A slice of Binh, Art, Allan K., Ray (behind Allan) playing with Tom against Robin (Tom’s mom, red hat) and Tom’s girlfriend, Ilena. To the far right are Marie and Terry (red shorts).

There was a tall man with long whitish hair who told another player that his name was Gregg. Ah. So the new guy at Skypark on Thursday night was indeed the man who had messaged me on Facebook. I introduced myself and we later ended up playing together. He’s a lefty and not bad. Probably a 3.0.

There were a few games of note. Tony and I played a game against Mark G. and George. It was a close game but we won. Ask I walked off, I told Eric S. who was sitting on the bench. He smiled and congratulated me. Mark and George aren’t 4.0 players, but they are solid. To beat them playing left-handed is an accomplishment.

Later, Mark G. and I played several games against Ted B. and Rick. We won two out of three and barely lost the one that we did. Mark wasn’t having his best day. Maybe that’s why Tony and I had beat him and George. Mark asked if we could stack and also asked if I could help him get to the right place at the right time . . . I guess I’m getting to be a stacking expert! Binh must be too!

Scheduling Board Insanity

There was  a bit of a snafu with the scheduling board. We had new players skipping boxes and starting new boxes of the same color. Even after I explicitly wrote instructions in a box at the top not to do that! At one point, I had two black boxes with two names each in them then chronologically after those was yet another black box with four names signed up in it. AGH!! Grrrrrr! Come on, people.

Terry was saying that there were newbies signing up in black (intermediate/advanced) instead of green (intermediate). It’s an ongoing problem. People always sign up a bit willy-nilly. I told her that if I were the king of the club, we’d assign ratings to every player. Terry said there’s a club in Oregon that does that. But, I’m not king of the club.

Clinic and Strays

Cal had another clinic going after the morning club session. There were about 10 people.

There was a younger couple—30s?—that was messing around with singles on one of the courts after noon. I extended a cordial invitation for them to join us during the morning club session. “But we don’t really know how to play,” she admitted. I told her, “We’ll show you how, just show up at 11 for the newbie time.” I told her to visit the club website for more information. Later on, as they were leaving, shortly before I left, I extended the invitation again. Hopefully, they’ll come.

By the time I’d counted the donations and put everything away, it was 1:20.


By evening, I could feel my right knee and my hips were bothering me some from today.


Today, I felt I did pretty well. Sure, I made mistakes. But I served better today. I generally made good shots. I dug out some slams and made shots were hard to make. I can confidently say that I’m on par with half the club even though I’m playing lefty.


Monday, August 26, 2019 (No Play)

I dropped by a local packaging/cleaning supply company, Coast Paper. A friend of mine, Reed—he was my best friend when I was 8—was there, as he often is, manning the counter. While there trying to get a large roll of butcher paper (they were out of stock), I asked about the cost of some protective goggles. Reed said he didn’t know, paused, then asked, “Do you want a free sample? I get them all the time.” I said, “Sure!” and then he came back with two of them. Nifty. I’ll have some new ones for night play! Maybe I can find a fabric sleeve to store them in.


Tuesday, August 27, 2019 (No Play)

Boy. This elbow thing is nasty. In the family art and picture framing store, Lenz Arts, I manage a team of about 20 people . . . typically about a dozen on a given day. I don’t do all that much hands-on framing these days, at least not extensively, I play the role of “advising doctor”, that is, my staff grabs me for the hard stuff. There was a slightly canvas stretch and I was involved. Using canvas pliers was painful. I could only manage a few pulls before I had to relinquish it to a trusted framer. I came back to finish stretching the corners which could be pulled by my left hand alone.

I don’t know.

Just how long will it take for this elbow to get better? I think January is now unrealistic for a return to my right hand. Do I need to add yet another year? Will I have to play left-handed forever? Do I need to take a trip up to the “Witch Doctor” in Walnut Creek as the Yoders call him? Maybe the trip and expense could be worth it. It’s such slow going as it is. It’s miserable.


I realize that the USAPA has probably updated my rating since the tournament. Yep. My doubles rating has taken a hit. It was 3.469. It’s now 3.432. Oh, well. I’m not playing my best, so that’s the way it goes. I’ll have to earn my way back up when—if?—I ever get back to playing right-handed.

And I have an official mixed rating now too: 3.051. (They don’t count the tournament were Colleen and I won silver at San Juan Bautista in November or it’d be higher.)

I still don’t have a singles rating. I’d love to play singles in a tournament someday.

My right knee is still hurting a bit. Just certain movements. I must have twisted it on Sunday.

Number of days on a court: 299
Number of total hours: 828

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

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