Adventures of Andrew Lenz and a Yellow Ball

Month: May 2021 (Page 1 of 3)

Memorial Day Fun

Monday, May 31, 2021 (Court Day #380)

With my wife wanted me to install a gopher trap this morning, I arrived at Brommer Park about 9:15 to sunny skies and busy courts.

Left to right: Dale, his wife Sandra, Tish (far court), Juls, Jennifer W., Jason, Dean, and player.
Left to right: Steve, Tom S., Tristan (far) partnered with Imran, Alan C., Carl, and Ted B.

The most comical moment today was Alan finally testing out my Players Rogue 2 paddle that he’s been wanting to try, while I tried his. We both hated them and switched back to our own paddles then went on to come from behind and win against Leslie and Juls. What didn’t I like about Alan’s paddle? Weight, weight distribution (longer paddle), too much bounce (more power, less control). Could I get used to it? Sure, just as I’m sure he’d get used to mine.

I played through a variety of games over the course of the morning.

A familiar man arrived as little after noon. “Hi, Andrew.” Shoot. I’ve obviously met him but I couldn’t recall his name nor the circumstances. We got into a game and he mentioned to the others that today was his third day out. His name was Doug. Ah. Ding, ding! I’d taken him from sitting on the wall to the first time on a pickleball court warming up here 8 days ago on Sunday.

And it turns out Paul was the name of the man who I thought was coaching yesterday. He was merely introducing his daughter and fiancé to pickleball. He was visiting from somewhere but grew up here and may be moving permanently back. Paul is a good intermediate player.

I ended up playing with Tony against Paul and Doug. Tony, a tall, fit man whom I’d never seen before. He was sporting a Cabrillo College basketball polo shirt. He said he’d been playing for about 7 months. I looked him up and found this:

After a game, Tony said, “If you are playing left-handed, you must be pretty good right-handed.” I said, “I’m a solid 3.5 playing right-handed.” He looked at me somewhat blanky. Later, I figured that he probably didn’t have any reference for what that meant. Regardless, very pleasant fellow. We talked him into two more games after he said he should go home to keep his wife happy.

Doug, as I anticipated after I played with him the first time, is doing really well for his third time out. Sure, there are some strategy things that I shared with him after our last game—being patient and waiting for an attackable shot, for one.

At 1:27 p.m., it was time to head home and the “honey do” list!

Number of days on a court: 380
Number of total hours: 1,081

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

Pack o’ Youngins

Sunday, May 30, 2021 (Court Day #379)

I dropped off my daughter at work and arrived at Brommer Park at 9:10. It was sunny and would get a bit warm. I brought donuts that were left over from work yesterday to share. I had to work hard to get folks to eat them! Too healthy, these people!

There was an older man named Gerard who said he was visiting from Sacramento. More specifically, I found later he’s actually from Carmichael, CA, east of Sacramento. I played a few games with and against him with Juls and Greg (tall, gray ponytail). Gerard has no soft game. He clobbered everything. He got by due to the skill level of this opponents but had I been playing right handed instead of unnatural left, I would have taken advantage of that.

Olga (far left) and partner against Patty and Dean as Oleg looks on (rightmost).

There was a tall man named Clayton who partnered with Greg (tall, gray ponytail) against Maree (who I haven’t seen in a year) and me. Clayton is a easy-going guy. Good player.

College Kids

There were 5-6 college age guys playing game after game on a court. (It’s always great to see some youth out playing!) After they finished up a game, Allan K. asked them if we could play their best two players. That turned out to be Cole and Steven—though Steven said it was open to debate. Cole is a decent player. He used slice drives, spin shots, and could get the ball back over the net. Allan and I were soon down 5-2. Allan told me, “We need to play better before we get embarrassed.” That would be bad! I dialed it up—instead of being a bit lazy and relaxed. We went on to win 11-5. Afterward, Cole shared with his cohorts, “That was real.” I never did tell them that I’m not really a lefty. Oh, on ball that was coming to my side of the court, short near the sideline, I shouted, “I got it!” But Allan didn’t stop and I ended up careening into him and slamming him to the ground. I felt bad, but no blood and he was ok.

Chris and played a game against his girlfriend Barbara and Maree. I’d never seen Chris play this gentle, but it was his girlfriend after all. The outcome was never in doubt. Even lefty, I was playing better than Maree and Chris is night and day compared to Barbara.

One of the college guys, Wyatt, played with Maree against Chris and me. Chris made some uncharacteristic errors (“I’m playing like a rookie’) and, heck, I’m playing lefty but the final score as still a lopsided win. 11-6 or 11-5.

Game with Mike

Rick A. and tall Mike were drilling/warming up. Jackie arrived. When I asked, she said she was waiting for her foursome at 1:30. It was 1:15. I told her we had time for one game before her friends came. Mike and Rick were agreeable. Mike and I took on Rick and Jackie. I was playing quite well—a good thing for the last game of the day. Jackie didn’t have any warm up. Mike and I won 11-2. I felt better today than after having feeding up slams to our opponents the last time I partnered with Mike.

There was a guy teaching/coaching two younger beginners. He had no paddle. Definitely instructing. I’d never seen him before. How can a guy I’ve never seen before be coaching newbies? You’d think I’d know anyone qualified locally to teach. Dunno.

Graduation Advice

I was watching this Tim Allen commencement speech to Hillsdale College. In it, he says, “Don’t aim were you don’t want to be, keep that off of your radar, aim where you want to go.” How many times have we hit the ball into the white tape at the top of the net. Too many.

Number of days on a court: 379
Number of total hours: 1,077

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

And One Step Back

Sunday, May 23, 2021 (Court Day #378)

The sky was overcast at home, but after dropping off my daughter at work and arriving at Brommer Park a few minutes after 9 a.m., it was already sunny.

There were three guys that I didn’t recognize but when I asked if they needed a fourth, they accepted. I ended up playing with a fellow named Jim against Steve and a tall man whom Jim introduced as “Elwood” . . . but then called him “Chuck” . . . but his real name is Craig. Steve’s serve is blatantly illegal. I’ve never seen one so obviously wrong. He serves sidearm with his paddle above his wrist but I didn’t bother to point it out. Jim and I lost, but it had nothing to do with Steve’s serve and more to do with me not being warmed up and Jim (and Steve) usually playing singles and not doubles. (That’s pretty unusual . . . singles pickleball players, especially just rec players, are rare.)

Shawnte H. (left) partnered with Art B. against Craig and Kent (rightmost).

My next game was with Shawnte as my partner. I played reasonably well in that one. We lead most of the game, but Kent and Craig came back to win 13-11. Shawnte has improved a lot over the last couple of years. After we lost one rally, Shawnte said, “Sorry, I didn’t trust your drop.” I told him not to worry, I don’t trust my lefty dropshots much either! That particular one, I’d executed very well.

So, Craig is visiting from Mesa, Arizona. And he said that today was his first time in a year that he was playing here in Santa Cruz. He said his girlfriend has a house in Boulder Creek and she was visiting, so that’s why he was around.

I overheard Shawnte say that Tristan won 3rd in 5.0 singles at a recent tournament. I had no idea that Tristan was playing tournaments. I had no idea that he’s playing in 5.0. I had no idea he was competing in singles. And I had no idea he was medaling. Quite the surprise. I’m shocked that he’s playing in 5.0 singles. I think he’s 17 now, he’s got lots of time to get even better.

Greg and Newbie Doug

Greg, the tall lefty with the long gray ponytail who usually plays at Derby Park, appeared today. I hadn’t seen him in a year. I’d forgotten his name and he’d forgotten mine! We played together and lost 11-3. I made some bad shots. Greg was very rusty. 

Where was a first-timer, Doug. I asked if he wanted to warm up on a vacated and empty court and he agreed. He’ll do really well. He’s coming from other racket sports. After a bit, we played against Greg and Juls and lost 11-8.

Later, I was playing with Greg against Allan K. and Karen. I hit one crosscourt drive over the middle and he exclaimed, “That was a legitimate left-handed shot! I would have never known that you aren’t a lefty!” We won one game and lost two. Fun games, though I didn’t feel like I playing my best.

I left the courts today feeling down. I didn’t feel like I played well at all. But I recognize there will be down days. I’m trying to not dwell on it.

Surgery Update

My right shoulder is getting better. In about a week, it’ll have been 7 months since my rotator cuff surgery. Last week, I reached into the refrigerator and picked up the water pitcher with my right arm without thinking. This is the first time I’ve done that since before my surgery on October 30. My body subconsciously tells me what to do or not do and there was only very mild discomfort picking it up with my right.

Still there are certain things that are very painful. Tucking my shirt into my pants behind my back with my right arm causes significant pain. Reaching far forward or up or sideways or back is painful. But it is getting better.

Friday, May 23, 2021 (No Play)

My copy of Pickelball magazine showed up today. It’s sad. I’ve barely read the last two issues!

A nice intro video on singles by Mark Renneson:

Saturday, May 29, 2021 (No Play)

After several emails prompting me and with the price going up on Monday, I renewed my USAPA membership today at the old price of $20. I guess the USAPA has to raise the annual fee since fewer people are joining the association . . . yeah, right. (Yes, that’s sarcasm.)

I’m starting to think about trying out playing right-handed. Maybe for a gentle game. Not sure yet. Trying an overhead smash would be painful. Ooo, and testing just now, backhands would be painful. Maybe not yet. Or maybe switching to lefty for what would otherwise be backhand shots.

Number of days on a court: 378
Number of total hours: 1,073

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

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