Adventures of Andrew Lenz and a Yellow Ball

Month: December 2019

A Touch of Righty

Sunday, December 29, 2019 (Court Day #327)

I arrived at Derby Park to open up at 8:50. It was overcast and cold, in the high 40s°F. My wife said it was supposed to start heavy rain at noon. Wayne arrived as I unlocked the bins and I got to blowing off the courts. Wayne helped set up a net or two as players started to trickle in.

Tom S., retired ER doctor, asked how my arm was since he noticed that I was warming up lefty with him and a new older woman named Jan.
“Still hurts.”
“It has been almost a year hasn’t it?”
“Yep, November last year.”
“Have you shot it up yet?”
“No, my GP recommended against it.”
“I had mine shot up and it hasn’t bothered me since. You should get the shot. But you need to have someone who knows what they are doing. The first one who shot me up didn’t know what he were doing. The second one was much better.”

Something to think about. If it’s just masking the pain of the injury so it gets worse, that’s not a good solution.

Today would be a lighter attended day, we set up the last net later on and even then we only played one or two games on it before we took it back down. We barely cracked 25 people.

I played a game with John P. against Grita and a newer guy named Matt that I’d never seen before. Early on, Matt wasn’t playing in a way that would make anyone take notice. But later he played far better—on par with most of the solid players. Regardless, John and I played well together and won without question. Afterward, Matt said to John about me, “I’d hate to see him play right-handed.” John replied, “He’s scary right-handed!” (A nice compliment!)

Charles invited me into a game. “Give me a minute, I’ll grab my forearm band and I’ll play right-handed.” Charles kidded, “We didn’t invite you to play right-handed!” A minute later, I was back.

My modified Bandit strap. The foam adds more pressure right on the forearm tendon/muscle. Today was my third time using it with the extra foam.

Charles asked if I wanted to warm up. I said no, and off we started against Grita and Matt from Monterey—the very strong player Matt. (Not the same Matt as before.) I was playing great. Sure, I made a few small errors early on, but it was like magic. Playing left-handed does keep one from being lackadaisical—you have to be focused—and that manifested itself in this game with me playing righty. Charles and I won 11-2.

In that first game, Matt hit a shot off to my left. Instead of really stretching to reach, I switched the paddle to my left hand and returned the ball. Charles commented right afterward that I’d hit a perfect dropshot lefty. Those should happen now and then after a year of practice, right?

We stitched sides and had a rematch, with a similar result. One particularly memorable moment for me was whipping a forehand topspin approach groundstroke an inch over the net crosscourt to Grita who was already at the kitchen line. The ball only made is as far back as their side of the net.

For the third game with the same four of us, we split Charles and me and paired Grita with Charles and Matt and me. Matt and I fell behind initially—I made a few mistakes—but we caught back up and pulled ahead and won.

My arm didn’t feel too worse for the wear. We’ll see how it does in the next few days.

It was 12:30 and the rain was behind schedule compared to the prediction. Two games were still going on the city nets. As my duty, I made sure all the club balls were collected, locked up everything and hit the road.

I was happy about today. I managed ok playing left-handed and playing righty was amazing.

Monday, December 30, 2019 (No Play)

The muscle in my left forearm is sore. Weird. But it’s not lefty tennis elbow, it’s the top muscle, which is good.

Number of days on a court: 327
Number of total hours: 921

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

Christmas Week

December 25, 2019 (No Play)
Christmas Day

Time to catch up on my writing! It’s been a rainy and very busy December for me.

On Friday (December 20), I read online that the new 2020 pickleball IFP rulebook is out. I haven’t finished reading all of the changes summary document—they changed a lot of wording for clarity, and I mean a lot—the summary is 42 pages! The only two major things I’ve noticed so far are that now, either member of the receiving team may make a “not ready” signal (not just the proper server), and the second thing is that a team can overrule a line call provided it is to their own disadvantage—in other words, a display of good sportsmanship.

On Saturday night (December 21), there was a small party at a neighbor’s house. While there, one of the neighbor’s sister Diane was there with her husband Jeff who have been learning pickleball. They’d only been out a handful of times, but given that we spent an hour talking about pickleball—rules, strategy, skill levels, where to play—they are obviously seriously interested in it!

My makeshift pickleball court for explanation purposes.
(Lighter for candles, wine cork, bottle caps as players and a pen to indicate the net!)

They mentioned that they’d signed up at a website and were given a PDF copy of a book. I figured maybe it was from the Pickleball Guru or CJ Anderson. Mark Renneson doesn’t have a book that he gives out that I know about. Anyway, they claimed it was a 200-page book. I was curious and asked them to forward it to me.

On Monday afternoon (December 23), they forwarded me a PDF copy of that book. When I received it, I was pretty shocked. It was a copy of Gale Leach’s Art of Pickleball book in its entirety!

Today, Christmas Day, I opened the gift from Connor, a friend of my son’s, whom I hired when he needed a job. It was a book, “History of Pickleball” by Jennifer Lucore and her mom Beverly. I’ve had my eye on this book, so I’m delighted to have it!

‘History of Pickleball’ for Christmas!

Thursday, December 26, 2019 (Court Day #326)

It was in the mid-50s as I made my way to Brommer Park. (Work is closed today.) Thursdays aren’t club play days, but my hope was there’d be some players there and I could get into a game. And the last thing I’d need would be all the players there to be in priorly arranged private games from which I’d be excluded. I arrived about 10:30. There were about eight parked cars—a small number. I pulled around in my car to get a glimpse of the courts. It was hard to see, but one was in use with at least one person waiting.

As I walked up, there were two players already waiting but it wasn’t long before Rick A. got there and I was into a game. Newbie Bill was there. John P. Colleen. Jean. Later, Dean showed up and played a game with John P. and some others. Then the rest of Dean’s foursome appeared, Jan, Mike and a woman named Sally. Later, Dean walked over while a couple of us who were sitting on the wall waiting and told us to watch Sally in that she was very deliberate with her shots, not rushed, and made very few mistakes—a very good player.

It had been so long since I’d played that I was entirely out of my routine. I had forgotten to put on sunscreen—fortunately, I keep some in my backpack—and I also forgot to pack a water bottle! I ended up making a couple of runs to the water fountain.

I checked the time. 1:36. I was getting hungry and the game I was waiting to finish and join wasn’t even halfway done. I opted to head home for lunch.

Games going at 1:30. Colleen and Rick on the near side.
Dean, Jane, Mike, and Sally on the far court.

Saturday, December 28, 2019 (No Play)

I ended up writing Gale Leach, the author of that book that was emailed to me, to make sure she knows that her book is being given away. Maybe it’s all legitimate, but maybe it’s violating her copyright. Regardless, I wanted to make sure that she knows.

Well, Gale is quick! She emailed back within an hour and said her book is being given away by Pickleball Central. She got paid up front for permission for them to do it, so she’s happy with the arrangement.

I’m a little sore from the play a couple of days ago. It had been weeks since I’d played and my body isn’t used to it. Sad!

Number of days on a court: 326
Number of total hours: 917.5

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

Blows My Mind

Sunday, November 24, 2019 (Court Day #325)

Though I was early, I was not the first one to Derby Park. Eric S. had beat me to the court and had already opened the bins and had just started setting up. It was a beautiful day and would be great for pickleball. There was a small breeze later in the morning and early afternoon, but it only played a small role in games.

44 players today at the time of my count. Tom S. is under the umbrella in his chair.

I played the first hour of mixed play using only my left hand. I wasn’t playing the best. Just ok, but not what I’d consider to be strong.

When it got busy, I blew my whistle and announced “play to 9, win by 1”.

Advanced Game

Once 10 a.m. rolled around it got to be time for skill level court signups, I saw a box with Cal and Chris signed up in red. That was an opportunity to get into a good game. I’d be using my right hand. (There’s no way I’d sign up in an advanced box playing left-handed!) I added my name to the box. Charles rode up on his bike. “Perfect timing! Charles, we need you to finish our box!” He agreed and I added his name.

When we got to the court, Cal produced four playing cards. Charles and Chris each picked a card. I picked one of the last two and Cal was left with one. We flipped over the cards. Four kings. Chris and my card were both red. Charles and Cal’s cards were both black. The teams were set. Given the choice, I would have split Charles and Cal, so instead Chris and I would have our hands full. Chris played very well—by far the best I’ve seen him play. I have to say that I was impressed. Chris and I gave them a run of the money, losing 9-8 after surprisingly holding the lead in the game.

Unfortunately, midway through that game, my right arm started to hurt. Damn. It’d be my first and last right-handed game of the day.

Good Games

The last four games of the day were Sue and me against Rick and his 23-year-old son Ricky. Young Ricky was amazingly quick covering a lot of the court. You’d expect a shot to end the point but he’d manage to get to it and return the ball. We had some great points, like some 10 to 15 shot rallies.

Sue and I won the first two games. It was by a fairly slim margin.

After one of those games, Sue said, “It blows my mind that you can play left-handed.” She went on to say something along the lines that she couldn’t do it—other than the rare odd ball that she could only try to reach by switching the paddle to her left hand.

I told Sue, “Now remember. I told you that someday I’m going to come ask you to be my tournament partner.”
“Yeah, I’m totally into it. The more the better!”

What’s amazing is Rick was also playing left-handed though he is a righty. He said he also plays racquetball regularly, but uses his right hand for that and left for pickleball so he doesn’t “overdo it”. If he didn’t tell you, you wouldn’t know he’s a natural righty. But then again, I was playing very well lefty and you wouldn’t know I was a righty either!

Sue and I lost the third game by a 12-10. The teams were fairly evenly matched. I wasn’t particularly dragging (for having played over four hours), but I was looking forward to getting home to watch the recording of the Raiders game with my son Nicholas. As I went to make the first serve of the fourth game, I said, “Zero, zero, two. My body is through!” Sue and I lost the last game handily.

I was the last one out at 1:30. I had been on the courts for over 4 1/2 hours.

Somedays, when walking out of the park, I’m depressed and wondering why I’m doing this. Today was not one of those days. I played well left-handed. My sole righty game was rusty, but respectable enough. It felt good.

Training Sessions

John P. approached me midmorning and asked if I was interested in leading monthly training sessions for groups of pickleball newbies. I’ll have to give this some thought. I enjoy it and if I were retired, it’d be a no brainer. But sometimes work unexpectedly makes serious demands on my time—like four people call in sick—and I have to change my personal plans.

Mini Round Robin Tournament

I talked to Tom this morning about his 6-game round robin. I did a search and found a 7-game round robin that actually has all the players play each other and is fair—unlike the 6-game version presented by the Bend pickleball organization.

I also found a name/list randomizer online:
You type in the player names and it spits out the names in a numbered list in a new random order—perfect for assignment to the round robin form!

Tuesday, November 26, 2019 (No Play)

A very pleasant surprise today, a friend of mine, Isela, a co-worker for a number of years as department manager who worked for me, stopped by my work to visit. She lives in Southern California these days and it had been about four years since I’d seen her and it’s been around 15 years since she’s worked for us.

We were talking for about 10 minutes when she asked what I’d been up to. Of course, I mentioned pickleball. Now, unlike yesterday when I mentioned it to the man who works in a warehouse down the street next to our warehouse, when he quizzically responded, “Pickleball?” Isela and her partner Jana broke into big smiles and, this time, I got “Pickleball!” as a response! It turns out that the two of them visit Mexico a few times each year and there’s a pickleball club down there that they hang out with. Isela said she doesn’t play seriously, but does enjoy it.

Isela is on the right in the white shirt with black shorts. Her partner Jana is on the left with in the same colors.

Thursday, November 28, 2019 (No Play)

A friend of mine had been arranging a flag football game via Messenger on Facebook. It was hard to hammer down a day for a bunch of different schedules, so eventually it as settled for the morning of Thanksgiving. My son Nicholas joined me.

I was a bit worried if I might end up playing quarterback due to my right arm issues. As it as, Bob, a man who was been the QB for our side, stepped out to make room for some who had shown up. Someone else initially stepped up as our QB, but I took over. It’d been 35 years since I was the 3rd string QB in high school. I have to tell you, it looks infinitely easier on TV than when you are under center and there are 21 other guys—including at least 10 right in front of you—blocking your view! (Calling plays for a football team as a coach in a timely fashion is also far harder than one would think—I’ve done some of that too!) Today was easy. Everyone on offense but the QB were receivers and ran routes. Visibility was awesome. I did just fine. It’s a great feeling to throw a deep “bomb” pass to a receiver and be right on the money. Satisfaction! Someone else took over as QB—he just kept the ball when it was our next series—I guess scoring TDs on every one of my series wasn’t successful enough! (Ha, ha!) More likely I hadn’t been throwing it to him and he wanted to touch the ball.

I ended up with a slightly-pulled right quadriceps, a sore hip, and a sore foot . . . but it was well worth it!

Friday, November 29, 2019 (No Play)

It’s been raining a bunch the last few days. Between being sore from yesterday and work, I opted to give Brommer a miss. As it was, play there was delayed until 10 a.m. anyway. Plus it was cold. It was 45 degrees when I left for work at about 9:15.

Heavy rain is expected tomorrow and Sunday plus on and off next week. Our mini-tournament on Thursday next week may need to be rescheduled.

Sunday, December 1, 2019 (No Play)

I went to buy some everyday shoes at Big Five Sporting Goods—my mother-in-law wanted something too. While there, I noticed something familiar. Pickleball paddles! Pickleball is continuing to move into the mainstream!

Number of days on a court: 325
Number of total hours: 914.5

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

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