Adventures of Andrew Lenz and a Yellow Ball

Month: February 2021

Arg! Back at it…

Sunday, February 21, 2021 (Court Day #359)

Apparently, my shoulder has gotten to the point where it’s not keeping my “lizard brain” from wanting to get out and play again. I got the itch a couple of days ago—it’s been months since I had that feeling. Midweek, one of my staff, Charlotte, shared that she would be trying pickleball this weekend with a friend of hers up in the Bay Area. I asked if she wanted to drill a little bit after work to get her exposed to playing. She agreed and we hit a ball back and forth for about 20 minutes. She used Alain’s backup paddle—he’s taken to just leaving his paddle pack in my office—and we did just the same as I do with Alain, that is, using a stretched canvas as a net and being limited to kitchen drills given the room we were in surrounded by displays of merchandise.

Yesterday morning, I texted Binh to see what what was up with the pickleball these days. I asked if he was playing the next day (Sunday/today) and he said he’d be at Brommer Park with Shawnte and that others would surely be there. Perfect.

My morning was busy, so I arrived at Brommer at 10:15. It was sunny day and I was fine in shorts and a T-shirt. California winters! All the permanent courts were in use. Binh and Wayne were partnered against Shawnte (just inside the gate) and an Asian fellow whom I didn’t know. He introduced himself, David. David is a strong player who is great with angles. He’s a lefty. Judging by his play, he’s a natural lefty and not a forced lefty like me.

My former neighbor, Dave Cox, was there and he gave me a boisterous greeting. I told him about my shoulder surgery and he said my wife had already filled him in. (Dave’s ex-wife still lives next door with their disabled son who Dave visits and occasionally takes for activities.) I explained my absence and the surgery to a number of players.

David and Shawnte (nearside) playing Binh and Wayne.

I won my first game, but it was I was a major contributor to my side losing almost all of my games today. There were some that were close, but I missed a bunch of shots. What was surprising—but should have been expected—was my back got tired and fatigued just like when I first started playing pickleball three years ago. The crouching and leaning takes its toll.

There was a first, one of my serves hit the net cord but landed in the service court well short and out of reach of the receiver. My partner for that game, Dave Cox, exclaimed, “Point!” Oh, yeah. I would have forgotten. The new 2021 rules are in effect. My first formerly-a-let serve.

Kevin showed up and Kent showed up not long after. I warmed them up with dinking. Kent said my lefty play is much better than the last time he saw me play—at least six months. Maybe at the net, but my ground strokes are very rusty.

One of my partners kindly admonished me to hit my dinks crosscourt so they aren’t attackable. And I made an effort to do that, but one I hit forward and it was attacked and we lost the rally. I felt about one inch tall.

In a game partnered with Mike—tall, strong player Mike—I hit a ball a little too high and Rick slammed the ball for an apparent rally winner. But Mike noticed something: “The net is moving.” Rick had followed through into the net. Fault! Our point. A good thing to remember to watch for!

It was 1:15. I was the odd man out. I could wait for an opening, but there were things I wanted to tackle at home, like continuing to battle configuring a VoIP phone system temporarily staged at my house for work. Plus I was so disgusted with my play and didn’t want to subject anyone else to having to be my partner. It’s a horrible feeling knowing that I’m very much the weakest player on a court.

Today was so frustrating and embarrassing. I’m not sure if I want to continue playing pickleball if I have to do it lefthanded.

Monday, February 22, 2021 (No Play)

I woke up to sore legs. Boy. I am out of pickleball shape. My legs didn’t get tired like this was I was regularly playing.

I had a PT appointment today and he was saying that the ball at the top of my humerus in my shoulder socket isn’t dropping to allow my arm to raise as much as it should. More exercises. I’m going to have to double-down on those. I don’t want to have limited range!

If I’m going to be playing pickleball for years to come, it’s going to have to be right-handed. I don’t think I can handle the frustration and disgust of playing lefty forever.

Friday, February 26, 2021 (No Play)

On Tuesday, I asked Charlotte about her first pickleball outing over the weekend. She said really enjoyed it and that she and her friend beat a “really good player” 11-0. Hmmm. Ok. Call me skeptical of the evaluation of their opponents. She also said someone told her that she has “the best serve they’d ever seen”. Charlotte does have a tennis background. It’d be great to have another strong player around, we’ll see. She did admit that she doesn’t like the kitchen. “No other sport has that!” I explained how when the sport of pickleball started, one of the neighbors was really tall and would just hit the ball off the court and that the non-volly zone neutralized that and made the game more fair. I invited Charlotte out to play and some Sunday in the next few weeks we’ll make that happen. I’m really looking forward to playing her and determining her skill level firsthand, even if I have to do it lefty.

This afternoon, Brett, one of my staff who has been sabbatical since September, texted today and said he’d like to return to work. He also said he’s been playing a lot of pickleball while away. I was pleasantly surprised. He said, “I want in on the pickleball games.” I asked him a question…

I don’t think I’d ever describe pickleball like that, but ok!

Number of days on a court: 359
Number of total hours: 1,014.5

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

Shoulder Surgery

Thursday, December 3, 2020 (No Play)

It’s been well over a month since I’ve written anything, but a lot has happened. On Friday, October 30, I had rotator cuff surgery. The surgeon sewed up the hole in my rotator cuff and scraped the bone above and below to make more space.

The surgery itself was fairly easy. Show up, nerve block in my neck, roll me into surgery, mask on my nose and mouth and I was out. I woke up groggy in recovery and took it easy, giving myself time to come out of the anesthetic. I asked about a sling and the nurse told me it was already on me. “Oh.” My shoulder was heavily bandaged—probably an inch thick of gauze and padding. It would stay on for almost a week. And I’d have a sprawling yellow bruise for a month.

Shoulder wounds
November 5. Two of three arthroscopic incisions and the doctor’s written pre-surgery indicator!

It’s been a long haul. The first three days, I was on oxy-something, a narcotic painkiller. I wanted off of that as soon as possible. Since then, 800mg ibuprofen has been my companion twice each day.

I stayed home from work for 5 days and returned at first for only a few hours each day. In the nearly five weeks since the surgery, even recent unconscious attempts to sleep other than on my back or left side has resulted in jolting pain. I can raise my forearm with out much, if any, pain, but raising my upper arm—like reaching out—and hence using the shoulder, is painful. Even a little bit. I’ve made a lot of progress—I couldn’t button my shirt with two hands initially—but there is a long way to go.

I started physical therapy a week after surgery. Precision Therapy, in their new Scotts Valley office, has been my PT home. Casey, the PT doctor, is the lead though I’ve been mostly working with Monica, the PTA, and she’s been really good. It’s been mostly three times each week.

I asked Monica today how long before I’d be back to normal. “Three months? Six months?” “At least. You’ll be doing most things by six months and completely back to normal after a year.” A year? Boy. That’s depressing. I have been substantially overly optimistic! I figured I’d be back on a court by maybe March…but that’s only four months from surgery. It’s been five weeks now and I can barely move my shoulder under its own power without pain. I should note that Monica said I’m doing excellent in terms of progress. I’m trying to be religious about my PT exercises. I want full range of motion as soon as possible.

Pickleball is the only reason I went through with the surgery. It’s worth it if it’ll help cure the tennis elbow and I can play well again.

Monday, December 21, 2020 (No Play)

It’s funny, I barely know what day of the week it is. I’ve worked three weeks straight, this past week has been particularly long days. Today was 12 hours. Last week had days of 11, 13, and 12 hours with other 10+ hour days too.

Alain and I drilled a couple of evenings after work for 10-15 minutes. He was playing lefty since his right shoulder popped out of place—he needs to get his own surgery at some point. I have to admit, he really impressed me with his lefty play. He was very coordinated. I asked him about it and he said he had to learn to play basketball left-handed when he broke his right wrist some years ago. I told him that that training translated well to pickleball. Granted, we only do kitchen drills and only have about six feet across to work with, but still, impressive.

The USAPA has released the new 2021 rulebook. No, I haven’t had any time to read it yet. But the two major changes are the elimination of lets on serves—if the serve lands in the service court it is always played, even if it hits the net on the way there—and the provisional addition (for 2021 at least) of a legal drop serve.

A suggested video popped on YouTube, and it recommend it:

It’s going to be interesting to see how this new Sever manifests itself and impacts the game in the future.

Tonight, this video appeared on my Facebook feed. I love learning the history behind something that affects me, and this video is no exception.

Saturday, December 26, 2020 (No Play)

Yesterday, I opened a Christmas gift from my sister-in-law, Liz. She’s a darn good gift giver.

Sunday, December 27, 2020 (No Play)

In the past week, I’ve reached a milestone where I can lie on my stomach or right side without intolerable pain. It’s still not comfortable, but, if I position myself just right, I can manage it. But if I move out of that precise position, it’s no longer tolerable.

The gaffers tape I’d put up at 36” on a cabinet in my garage was peeling off and starting to hang down. I pulled it off and replaced it with new tape. I didn’t use it as a backboard for drills. The car was in the garage and my desire wasn’t worth moving the car out.

Mark Renneson sent out a Third Shot Sports newsletter and in it was a sample of his subscription-based Pickleball Lab service. I’m including a video from it. Much is routine stuff. What hit me is starts at 3:26. Ernes. When to do them. Key information. I’d never seen or heard this explained.

Monday, December 28, 2020. (No Play)

Last night, I had a dream. I was at a busy and large number of sectioned off pickleball courts. It seemed to be a facility that had been expanded a few times. There were at least a dozen courts in use. I recognized quite a number of local players. I recognized the back of Karen Long’s head on far court, though a fence. (It was a local court facility that doesn’t exist in reality.) I was there to play. I found a signup whiteboard, but the scrawling on it was scratched out and it wasn’t being used. It irritatingly seemed that players were just staying on courts and not giving them up. I found a place to hang up my pickleball backpack on the chainlink fence. Eventually, someone invited me to play. Wait. My paddle was missing! Where was it? I looked all over. I found one like it, but it wasn’t mine. Had someone taken mine by mistake? I eventually found one of my paddles but I could no longer find the group that had invited me. Where did they go?

Yes, I’ve itching to play. That manifested itself in my dream. It’s going to be months though. Between COVID-19, work, and mostly, my shoulder surgery, it’ll be quite some time. Will my tennis elbow be better? Will I have lost my skills? Will I have to work my way back to being a decent player? Will my tennis elbow still be a continuing problem? Will I be stuck playing lefty?

Wednesday, December 30, 2020 (No Play)

Well, I don’t know if should start counting the 10 minutes of drills that I do with Alían after work, but we did that this evening. He was back to playing right-handed. I’m still solidly lefty. Not even a dream of playing righty any time soon.

YouTube offered up a video tonight that I found interesting and worthwhile. What’s impressive is just how fast Tyson’s arm moves across his body during his forehand serves. I must have seen this in person a couple on years ago at the Golden State Championships when he was there, but still, it’s impressive.

Sunday, January 24, 2020 (No Play)

Recovering from my shoulder surgery continues to be slow going, but it’s gradually improving. I can lie down on my right side if I have my right arm in a very specific configuration, otherwise, it’s too painful. I’m still far away from playing pickleball with my right arm. Alain and I have been drilling after work for 10 minutes once or twice a week.

Friday, February 5, 2021 (No Play)

I read today that the USAPA will no longer adjust a players UPTR rating based on the results of an unsanctioned tournament.

This really puts pressure on larger tournaments who have opted to go unsanctioned. It’s a bit of a bummer for those of us who don’t have a lot of sanctioned tournaments nearby and can’t do a lot of traveling.

Of course, for me at the moment, it’s all moot. I’m not playing anytime soon with my shoulder how it is.

Number of days on a court: 358 (Still)
Number of total hours: 1,011.5 (Still)

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

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