Misadventures of Andrew Lenz and a yellow ball

Month: January 2020 (Page 1 of 2)

Return to Scotts Valley

Thursday, January 30, 2020 (Court Day #331)

I emailed Mark Dettle to see if people were meeting at Skypark tonight. (I’m the last few weeks someone told me that they weren’t meeting there anymore—I figured it was mostly a weather thing where they were meeting indoors instead.) I didn’t get a reply after a few hours so I emailed Sharyl instead and she replied within 5-10 minutes that they were. Excellent. My legs and body were a little sore from yesterday’s mini tournament, but I wanted to get back out and play.

Skypark

I arrived just before 7 p.m. The four permanent courts were in use. (A fifth temporary net was briefly set up later.)

I got into a few games. Stuart was there. I was hoping to get a game in with him since one could argue he was the strongest player there. I did get a game against him and it was telling. His ball placement was excellent. For one point, he hit a sharp crosscourt shallow shot and I really had to stretch to get it and ended up popping it up which his partner slammed for a winner. Arrrgh! Stuart is good with those angle shots.

Husband Ryan

Jenny—who I’d usually see at Derby—brought her husband Ryan. He’s tall and fit, with short gray hair. Wayne and I played against them. It was a good game. Ryan had the perfect answer for Wayne’s drives from the baseline—drop it short at an angle off the court. He did this several times. (About a month ago, I did something similar, but I just dropped the ball right over the net where it just died, impossible to reach.) I earned a few points with spin against the two of them. At least three deep back spin drives were hit into the net. I had a great forehand slice drive. Spins are coming along left-handed.

Jennifer

A woman I’d never seen before named Jennifer was there. I played against her while she was partnered with Shawnte. I had Maria as my partner. After I messed Jennifer up with my serves and spin, I figured that she wasn’t the strongest of players so I told her I’d dial it back a bit. There was a funny moment of Jennifer assuming that Shawnte was younger than she was but he’s 42 and she’s 39. I thought both were younger than that—well, I learned a while ago that he was in his 40s.

The lights clicked off at 8:30. It was mentioned that the City of Scotts Valley neglected to reset the automatic timer after the time change. Oops.

Heading Out

Walking out, I told Ryan, “You need to keep playing. You are going to just get better and better. When I switch back to playing right handed, you’ll be a formidable opponent.” Jenny said, “Oh, yeah. You are playing left handed. You are playing awesome.” “Well, awesome is relative.” (Remember, I’d just placed 7th out of 8 players in our mini tournament yesterday!)

Number of days on a court: 331
Number of total hours: 935

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

Home Brewed Tournament

Wednesday, January 29, 2020 (Court Day #330)

After a number of fits and starts, today was finally the day of Tom’s mini tournament with a $5 buy-in. I arrived at Brommer Park at 8:37. I was late, but I wasn’t the latest. We’d have to wait another 10 minutes for Tony to arrive through traffic.

Rick A. got sick and had to drop out, so yesterday, someone asked Dave Cox to fill in and he did.

Our lineup would be:
– Andrew (me)
– Tom S. (organizer)
– Dave C.
– John P.
– Tom B.
– Mike K.
– Karl
– Tony

I opted to play left-handed since I felt seven games would be too much for my right arm. I figured I’d be in the bottom half of the results. My private prediction for top three were Tony, Dave, and John.

Setting up. Karl, John P., Tom S., Tom B. and Dave C.

Tom S. had us all draw wooden Scrabble letters from a paper bag. I drew “H”, so I’d be Player #8. We’d be playing games to 9, win by 1.

We played seven rounds, rotating through all the players as partners.

Game 1. Tom B. against Tom S. and Mike. We won 9-6.

Game 2. John P. against Karl and Tom B. We lost 8-9.

Game 3. Tom S. against Dave and John P. We lost 1-9.

Game 4. Dave against Tony and Tom B. We lost 5-9.

Game 5. Tony against Tom S. and Karl. We won 9-5.

Game 6. Karl against Dave and Mike. We lost 2-9.

Game 7. Mike against Dave and John. We lost 2-9.

Tom’s clipboard with the master rotation and player assignments.

In the end, I won two games and lost five. In some games, I got picked on. Some games, I played well, others not so much.

The surprise of the day was Tom B. taking second place! He was happily shocked. Good for Tom. Tom S. didn’t fare as well, finishing in last place, but I gave him a run for his money for the bottom of the barrel!

Tom’s completed scoring grid.

Final results with total points:
1st Tony (62)
2nd Tom B. (54)
3rd (tie) Dave C. (49)
3rd (tie) Mike K
(49)
5th John P. (48)
6th Karl (46)
7th Andrew (36)

8th Tom S. (35)

Tony took home the $25 winner’s envelope. Tom B. took the #2 envelope and Dave and Mike split the 3rd Place winnings.

One particularly memorable moment was getting an ace serving left-handed from the left side of the court. I hit a curving ball, it landed just inside the center line then continued curving left into the other service court. Never touched. I got nearly all my serves in today.

Rinsing the Taste of the Frustration Out of My Mouth

I was frustrated after my tournament play and playing lefty. I couldn’t stand it. So I played three games righty. John P. and I played a game against Dave C. and Karl and won something like 11-8. We played a rematch and lost by a couple points. I wanted 2 out of 3, but Dave and Karl had to go. Of note was several of my serves forcing failed service returns into the net.

There was one backhand while playing righty that hurt enough that I made a mention of it to John: “That one hurt.”

I played a game with Olga against Dan and . . . boy. I’ve forgotten Dan’s partner. Anyway, Olga and I won. It was a good game.

The problem with switching to righty is I start to drive shots that should be drops. I just have to remember play smart.

I left at 12:15 p.m. 3.5 hours. Home, then work.

Number of days on a court: 330
Number of total hours: 933.5

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

Pickleball in Prime Time

Sunday, January 12, 2020 (Court Day #329)

I arrived at Derby Park it open up at 8:45 a.m. There wasn’t too much debris on the courts. Still, I used up the battery blowing off the courts. I held the blower in my left hand—it was painful to hold it in my right hand.

Tom from Los Altos

There were a few newbies today. One, Tom D., a tall man, was visiting from Los Altos. He said his girlfriend has a vacation home in Santa Cruz and they visit a few weekends each month. Tom had never played before and had nearly no racquet sports experience either. Everyone starts somewhere, he just has a bit more work to do than those coming in the hand-eye coordination ball experience.

I signed up for a few games with Tom to provide guidance. In the last of those games, John P. teamed up with Tom across the court from me. John’s main piece of advice for Tom was not to step in after the serve which is a beginner common error.

After playing repeated games with newbies, I was ready for a harder game.

On to Tougher Games

Mark G. had his name in a court box in red. I asked him if I could join his box. “Are you playing right-handed or left-handed?” “I’m playing lefty, but I’m playing solid lefty.” He concurred and I signed up. He then asked a new Rich to join us. I was astonished. I had just played with Rich. I’d call Rich a weak 3.0. So much for a strong game. Wayne joined the box.

Mark suggested he and I team up. I think he was expecting me to play more poorly than I did. We stacked during the game and we won 11-2. Mark didn’t do too bad stacking, he’s picking it up. A few reminders here and there, but he’s coming along.

Afterward, Mark suggested, “That went well. How about we take on Eric and John P.?” Sounded good to me. We’d have to wait for them to finish their game, but they won 11-5 and in short order—they were still on the second court over. (Long games end up on the third/last court over as we shift over when the earlier game ends.)

It was a long game. We lost 11-6 or thereabouts, but the serve was back and forth, back and forth. They had to earn every point.

We had one rematch, with a similar result, but also a long fun game.

Andrew and Adrian

Mark had to leave for the day so Adrian jumped in as my partner for the next game. Adrian and I came back and won the game. Eric and John won the next two.

I got clocked in the hand three times by Eric. One the ball bounced quite high and landed just past the net close to the sideline from which Eric hit a cross court shot then the remainder of a long point ensued—that was a great point.

One other thing of note was me scoring a point against Eric on a left-handed spin serve. It’s one thing to do it against newbies. It’s another to do it against a strong intermediate player who has won tournament medals.

Perspective

Let’s take a step back for a second for a bird’s eye view. I’ll pass three years of playing in a couple of weeks. One year of that has been playing lefty due to bad tennis elbow. I can get all my serves in now—I sometimes miss when I try to get fancy. I still mess up occasional shots that would still be awkward even playing right-handed. I’m probably better now playing lefty than I was when I started righty . . . and I started reasonably solid.


Thursday, January 16, 2020 (No Play)

I watch almost no TV so I missed this when it came on, but ABC very fortuitously uploaded their The Goldbergs snippet about pickleball onto YouTube. (I’d never even heard of the show!)

It does not portray the sport in a positive light and implies that the sport is in decline. Now, this show is set in the 1980s when pickleball was still just cruising along as a niche sport—not like today where it has exploded and has over two million players. It is a funny segment regardless.

It’s been a bad couple of months in terms of pickleball play. Work and weather has not been cooperating.

Friday, January 17, 2020 (No Play)

Yeah. Another video!

Number of days on a court: 329
Number of total hours: 930

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

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