Adventures of Andrew Lenz and a Yellow Ball

Month: April 2021 (Page 1 of 2)

Mr. Spin at Skypark

Friday, April 30, 2021 (Court Day #372)

I had one of my staff close and I left work early after closing time. While driving directly to Skypark, I got a text from Alain asking if I was feeling sick after my second vaccine shot or if I was still going to play. I told him I was on my way to the courts. I arrived at 6:25 p.m. to find all the parking spots full, so I parked along the wood fence then walked in, following Olga and her husband Oleg who arrived just before me.

I have no idea who these people are. Pickleball is growing.

I go into a game with Mark D., Sharyl, and Debbie. I was not playing the best, but my play did improve over the course of the night. Sharyl had invited Kristin L.—Sharyl asked first—and Kristin showed up before too long. When Alain arrived all the courts were full, but I saw that he got into a game on his own after not too long.

Eye Protection Swap

I played in sunglasses until it got too dark, then I switched to clear plastic safety glasses. The ones I bought from Stuart a couple of years ago. I don’t know why I dislike those but don’t mind sunglasses. But no matter, I make a choice to protect my eyes! That ricochet volley a few years ago that sent the ball into my eye socket isn’t easily forgotten!

Uh, Double Bounce Rule

Alain and I played a game against Adrian and a Scotts Valley-er, Gary. It was going to be Adrian and me, but Gary suggested Adrian and I split up to make it more fair. And Gary was right! It made for a much more balanced game. Alain hit two or three shots where he stepped in after the serve and faulted by not allowing the ball to bounce twice. Oops.

Kristin and I had a really good game against Sharyl and Adrian. We ended up losing 14-12, but it was a great battle.

Mr. Spin

I had another game against Sharyl, she called me “Mr. Spin”. Yes, I have some spin shots down even playing lefty. I had at least half a dozen shots returned into the net tonight after I sent them over with significant spin.

The courts gradually cleared out as the evening progressed. Sharyl turned on the lights . . . she pulled out a pair of pliers since one of the light knobs is missing. And, as Adrian learned later, one of the knobs needs to be turned the wrong way—instead of with the timer marks—to work! Sounds like the City of Scotts Valley needs to make some repairs!


Oleg and I played a game against Olga and Debbie. Oleg opted to play lefty too—he’s a former open tennis player—which made for a fairer game. I was reflecting earlier to Sharyl while waiting on the bench about how much better Olga is. She was someone few wanted to play with early on. Sharyl mentioned how she’d played against Olga in a tournament or two and she is a tough opponent. Olga has come a long way. Oleg paid me a compliment about my lefty backhand, that was nice to hear. It’s also nice to have Oleg back on a court and playing a bit after his heart surgery a couple of years ago.

The last game of the night was Adrian and me against Mark D. and Kristin. It was a fun matchup. I was trying to remember if we won or lost . . . wins are more memorable, so I was thinking, maybe we lost. Then I remembered we did lose when Adrian hit the last shot into the net. That’s not to say the loss was his fault, I made my share of errors. In the middle of that game I got a call from my daughter, then a call from my wife . . . two calls sounded urgent so I called my wife back. They were having trouble getting the DVD player to play on the TV—my daughter had out-of-state guests—so did my best to quickly walk them through it! Success! I returned and apologized and thanked my ‘courtmates’ for the interruption.

When the game ended, Kristin was especially ready to call it a night, so we did. 8:57 p.m. then I was on my way and got home at a time which did not prompt a “what’s wrong?” question!

Number of days on a court: 372
Number of total hours: 1,056.5

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

Two-on-One, The Return to Skypark

Friday, April 23, 2021 (Court Day #371)

Yesterday, I sent out an email to a bunch of players who I have seen previously in Scotts Valley inviting them to come tonight at 6:30, a bit more manageable time for me since I work. Robin said she and Ray were interested if we started at 5:30 instead. Allan had responded and when I asked, he said 5:30 would be fine too.

I arrived at Skypark at 5:37, as much as I tried to be on time, I was late. (With my car in for repairs, our household was down to one vehicle.) I spotted a number of people at the courts. Allan and Sharyl were waiting for me. Two courts were full of people whom I’d never seen before. Robin and Ray weren’t there and never made it, unfortunately, so we had three. Sharyl had a big smile on her face, it was nice to see her again—it had been probably a year.

But it worked out. “Two on one” turned out to be better and more fun than I was expecting. Sharyl clobbered Allan and me. Allan beat Sharyl and me by a few points. The longest game was Sharyl and Allan against me. It was probably a 25 minute game. I lost 11-9, but it was back and forth.

By 6:51, Allan was ready to go. He said he had played this morning and had done swimming as well, so he was tired. The original eight strangers had left and two new strangers had arrived and had been playing on the opposite side. I asked Sharyl if she was interested in playing more—as in joining the strangers—but she declined.


I asked Sharyl who else had access to the lights key and she said Mark (D.) and Kristin. Then she offered to give me the code to get to the key myself. Nice! Well, I am a site coordinator for the Santa Cruz Pickleball Club after all, though the SCPC territory doesn’t technically include Scotts Valley though there is a lot of overlap of players. It’s nice to have that option.

When I got home, my wife asked what was wrong. Normally, I’d be hope closer to 9 p.m. than 7 p.m. Alas.

Oliver shows how I looked myself when having to leave after only about an hour of pickleball.

Saturday, April 24, 2021 (No Play)

Someone posted this online. I just thought it was interesting.

Rain is predicted for tomorrow. I’ve been keeping an eye on it and it has pushed back a few hours, though there is still a 45% chance of rain by 10 a.m. Hopin’.

Monday, April 26, 2021 (No Play)

I posted a video that I took yesterday. (It was rainy enough to keep me away from the courts.) I recorded myself using two paddles—one in my left and one in my right—hitting a ball at targets in my garage.

Here’s the actual video and discussion on Facebook:
And, boy, switching hands is still super controversial and contentious!

I watched this short video on YouTube. Many pickleball players fail to do this in a game: study, think, adapt.

I’m lining up some players for Friday night at Skypark. I have some committed already.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021 (No Play)

A fellow named Trent Aaron posted this photo about paddles, saying, “Makes switching easier and is under board review for official tournament approval! Early adopters inherit the universe!” Now, I wasn’t too sure what to make of this. Serious? Joke? Granted, there are “switchers” out there—I’m one—but, uh, is there any demand for a paddle for two handles to make it easier to switch? It seems like a dog with five legs. I’m not convinced.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021 (No Play)

I invited my brother John to pickleball on Friday night. He’s never played. He said he’d check with his wife.

Today was Alain’s last day at work. He’s going to concentrate on doing 3D animated graphics and video which he’s been studying for quite some time.

Thursday, April 29, 2021 (No Play)

I got my second (and last) COVID-19 vaccine shot yesterday. Aside from a sore arm where the shot was, I’m doing fine. Some folks have a fairly strong reaction to it—chills, fever, vomiting, severe fatigue—but aside from being a little tired last night, I am doing great.

I’m looking forward to playing again tomorrow night at Skypark!

Number of days on a court: 371
Number of total hours: 1,054

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

Good Games

Sunday, April 18, 2021 (Court Day #370)

My wife said “It’s chilly but it’ll get nice.” And she was right. As I drove to Brommer Street Park on the freeway, the sky cleared for sun. Nifty!

I arrived at 9 a.m. Mike A. from work came not too long after, but there was someone in each of the four courts. Diane was in one court by herself drilling with a machine. I asked if she’d mind if Mike and I drilled on the part of her court that she wasn’t using. She agreed. Mike and I took left side and did some dinking. Mike has really good hand-eye coordination. I was impressed. Many newbies aren’t very good getting the ball over the net, but he has quick hands. This was his second time ever. We drilled for about 10 minutes.

Rick and Renee arrived. I asked if they wanted to join our court, now that Diane had collected all her balls and headed out. Renee and I played Mike and Rick. Mike did ok, but he’s learning to come up to the net and not step in after a serve, etc. Basic strategies. He stepped into the kitchen on volleys maybe half a dozen times over the morning.

Playing with the Girls

Mike and I stepped out to let Shawnte and Jon B. Get in a game with Rick and Renee. While waiting on the wall, one of the girls called over: “Andrew!” Jackie was taking a break, so they wanted a fourth. I looked at Mike and he said, “Go ahead.” So played with Olga against Patty and . . . spacing on the other woman. Anyway, Patty was doing a good job attacking me with hard shots. Olga and I lost, and that loss was mostly me. They invited me to play another, but I told them that my friend was by himself.

Miles and Alissa

I went over to Mike. A couple that I didn’t know were hitting the ball back and forth. I asked if they wanted to play a game. They introduced themselves, Miles and I think the woman’s name is Alissa, though I can’t recall for sure. Anyway, Miles was the better of the two, but they were both relative novices.

They won the first two games. After the second, at the net, she told me that she had seen my tournament shirt and was thinking, “I’m doing ok against him.” I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I was intentionally taking it easy on them! Though I did tell her that I was playing left-handed. We played again, and this time, I was taking the game a bit more seriously and Mike and I won the first few points and never looked back. Mike chucked and told them mid-game, “I think mentioning his shirt was a mistake!”

Playin’ with Shawnte

Shawnte and I got a couple of games against Rick and Renee. We tweaked our strategy a bit, stacking, sometimes switching, sometimes not. We won two games in a row, 11-5, 11-4. Shawnte had two great “flying ernes”, sailing through the air over the kitchen and volleying the ball for winner. Impressive.

Shawnte and I also played Allan K. and Dan, we won 11-8. We were up 6-3 and then Shawnte tried a Nasty Nelson against Allan and missed. I tried one against Dan, not looking at him, and missed by about a foot. Later up, when we were up 10-6 or something, I tried another against Dan. This time, the ball headed right for his chest, but he rotated out of the way. “You were a lot closer that time!”, encouraged a smiling Shawnte. Three Nasty Nelsons, but we missed all three! Not the best strategy, maybe only if the receiver isn’t paying attention and looking the wrong way! Shawnte and I won. Probably not a huge surprise.

Shawnte and I lost our third game against Rick and Renee, 11-5. If I were looking for excuses, I’d blame switching from an easier game back to a harder game.

I checked the time. 1:07. I could probably get into some more games, but I figured it would be longer waits. Time to go.

Spotlight on Pickleball

In his newsletter today, Mark Renneson sent out a link this video from CNBC where they did a short feature on pickleball:

There’s that Ben Johns guy again!

Tuesday, April 20, 2021 (No Play)

I was in my garage doing some PT exercises when I figured I’d look for my autographed paddle. Hmm… Cleats. My softball manager clipboard. Several footballs. Mini orange cones. Pickleballs in a package. Pickleballs in a bag. Loose pickleballs. I think I’m set for those! I thought I found it, but the handle” turned out to be a giant squirt gun. Oh. Maybe the sling bag? Feels like it. Open the zipper…eureka! One long unseen paddle autographed by Kyle Yates, Morgan Evans, and a 19-year-old Ben Johns! A relief!

Number of days on a court: 370
Number of total hours: 1,053

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

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