Misadventures of Andrew Lenz and a yellow ball

Brommer and New Ball

Sunday, May 2, 2021 (Court Day #373)

I had obligations this morning, so the soonest I could get to Brommer was almost 10:30. I was happy to see parking spaces in the lot, but that also worried me about there not being a lot of players. The fear was unfounded as there were people waiting seated on the wall for games.

No space for temporary nets today, the tennis courts were in use by tennis players.

Harry

I played a game with Art against a man named Harry and a woman that I’m forgetting. Harry has one of the most wicked serves that I’ve played against, lots of velocity. He’s also tricky with spin for a variety of shots. The saving grace for opponents is that he’s a little inconsistent—hitting a shot here or there into the net or out. I may have met Harry before . . . just a vague recollection.

One memorable shot was Art dinking a shot just a little too high across from me at the net. I was at the left and when it bounced back up, I judged it just high enough to topspin drive the ball low between Art and his partner. It was a winner and garnered some accolades from Dan Bliss and others lining the wall. Fun.

Binh and I played Harry and Patty and won a close one after being down 5-1. A couple strong runs got us caught up then allowed us to pull ahead.

Chris

As I was waiting for another game, Chris Yoder arrived. Chris is a good guy. He’s a very good player who has won medals at 4.0+ matches. He offered to drill/warm up with me, so after he retrieved a Dura 40 from his car, we dinked and he did some drop shots.

I played a game with Stuart—whom I hadn’t seen in over a year—against Rob and Harry. Stuart and I lost 11-4, I believe. We were the two weakest players on the court, so the outcome was expected. Stuart said this was his first week back playing in almost a year.

New Ball

I asked Tristan and Imran about their new ball that Olga had mentioned and we’d played with on Friday night. Imran was quick to point out that the ball is practically indestructible—Tristan interjected that they hadn’t broken one yet—yet bounces well and doesn’t get out of round. I asked how much I could buy one for. “$3, an introductory price to get them out there,” Imran stated. I had three $1 bills in my wallet, which made it really easy.

I read this text first as “Eleven Town”, not “Eleven to Win”!

Chris was later talking to Stuart who was sitting about five feet from me. Chris was saying the ball is a little “softer” (compared to a Dura 40), only noticeable to very discerning players.

The herd had thinned out and the odds of me getting into a game were getting longer. It was time to head out. 12:15. About an hour and forty-five minutes. I’m glad I got to play Friday night, today was not much in the way of play, unfortunately.

Oh, I should mention that Dean made a suggestion. On a cross-court shot to my lefty backhand, the ball returned outside the court. Dean suggested placing my right hand behind the paddle face for support. I may have to try that, if I have time to reach out . . . and my shoulder doesn’t hurt too much.


Monday, May 3, 2021 (No Play)

We had a players Zoom gathering, hosted by Ted B. Ted’s been doing it weekly during COVID, but since we extended store hours to 6 p.m. about six months ago, it usually starts during my work hours, so it’s hit or miss if I can catch part of it. Art B. brought up new Emron’s new ball during the discussion. Tony said that Emron told him that he’d tested 14 different ball compositions before being satisfied with this current verison.

While we were talking, I did a search and found out that the USAPA charges $375 to test and approve a ball for use. If the ball fails the first time around, then each resubmission—a revised ball—is $275.

Art shared a photo with the group that he had shared with me yesterday, a new pickleball court in Mexico at a neighbor’s big house. (Art has a second home in Mexico.) Nice!

Quite the view!

I’m trying to figure out a night that I can organize a night play outing in SV. My son flies back to California Thursday night and my mother-in-law flies in the same night. Maybe Friday again.


Tuesday, May 4, 2021 (No Play)

YouTube suggested a video for me. Maybe it’s a coincidence, maybe Sarah Ansbury saw my hand switching video in the Pickleball Forum on Facebook this past week.

First off, Sarah is a high successful pro player. Who am I am question, right? But I’m going to give a differing opinion. And let me say, I don’t switch hands often in a game, if ever. Maybe once, maybe twice, maybe not at all. (And I’m not talking about right now when I’m only playing lefty due to bad tennis elbow followed by rotator cuff surgery six months ago, I’m talking about normal circumstances.)

While I agree that contact point is key, I don’t think Sarah’s overall premise is completely fair. Aside from the brief disclaimer at the beginning, she seems to suggest that the only time most people switch is when they have a allow their backhand to get too far back and have a bad contact point.

And I will absolutely concede that if you play ambidextrously—switching hands for every backhand versus forehand shot—it can be confusing, exactly as Sarah says. I’ve tried it, at least, for balls that bounced. (It’s impractical to switch for volleys.) And it is darn confusing. You have to decide for every shot if you are going to switch or not. Granted, it’s instantaneous, but there’s still a delay. And when it’s a fast drive you are trying to hit, that delay can be disastrous.

I’m going to share a snippet of a pro match. For this rally, at 1:11 into this video, you’ll see what I consider a perfect time to switch hands. The player—I believe that’s Matt Wright (though maybe it’s his partner Steve Deakin)—is out of position—wait? You mean even pros get out of position?—and the shot is wide to his backhand. He can barely reach the ball to hit it and it ends up in the net. If he had switched, it would have added another 6”-12” to his reach, he would have gotten to it sooner and a switch would have give him more time to make that shot. There’s no way he could have ‘added his left hand for a two-handed backhand for additional support and keep the ball from getting behind him’. (Hopefully that doesn’t come across as snarky.)

There is a time and a place to switch hands. If you are uncoordinated, maybe that’s almost never . . . then switch only when a rally is otherwise lost anyway. But if you are coordinated and can successfully hit reliable shots off-handed, then maybe there are other opportunities to gain an advantage by switching.

Me? It’s three instances for switching. (Maybe four.)

  1. Desperation. Like the video above, an unreachable—or nearly unreachable—shot when you’ve got nothing to lose.
  2. Equilibrium. When the ball is slow and wide cross-court, switching allows you to make the shot while maintaining a better position on the court, instead of having to move wide.
  3. Offensive. This is probably happens only during lower skill play, but sometimes you can surprise an opponent by switching and suddenly be able to attack further from your body than your opponent expects.
  4. [Bonus] In games against much weaker players, you play the whole game off-handed to help even out the skill levels and make things more fair.

Saturday, May 8, 2021 (No Play)

I was at work yesterday when a woman customer said, “Not playing pickleball today?” I looked at her. I had no idea. “I’m Mary, Mark Dettle’s wife.” Ah! (Mark, of course, is a long-time regular in Scotts Valley and a SV court-side storage box key holder.) She was shopping with her sister Isabelle. Connections!

But there was more to it. Mary’s older sister, who passed almost a year ago just as the COVID pandemic started, Ann Scott-Chambers, worked for our family business as a picture framing designer in the 1970s. Her son is the famous actor Adam Scott. (Adam and I went the the same high school where his mom worked for a long time, but he’s about five years younger and he was attending when my younger siblings were also there.) Ann was a kick in the pants. She would fling curse words around like a sailor and could have a forceful personality at times. She would always laugh when I’d tell my staff “her son is Adam Scott who was in a Star Trek movie.” It was a tiny bit part for him and she was amused that I’d use that movie for reference when he had so many other much bigger parts. Like “Parks & Recreation”, “Big Little Lies”, “The Good Place” and others. What can I say? I’m a Trekkie. Anyway, Ann was a talented artist and whenever the annual science illustration art show comes up a the local Natural History Museum, I think of her. Oh, and Ann, Mary, and Isabelle’s dad was “Doc” Quadraro, whom I attended charity dinners in the 1990s, over 20 years ago. Connections!

My daughter’s former boyfriend—and back being to just her friend—Aidan, a part-time state lifeguard, come over for dinner. He said that last year, I had asked him if he knew Ryan Petersen who I’d met at pickleball who was also a state lifeguard. He said he didn’t. But tonight, Aidan said that Ryan had been given a medal by the governor for rescuing a man trapped in a coastal cave in Southern California. Cool.


Number of days on a court: 373
Number of total hours: 1,058

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6 Comments

  1. Katie Lawler

    I had one of those Eleven to Win balls in my bag from I think the guy who made them. But I forgot who he was! It’s a great ball. How do I get more? Thanks? Katie

    • andrewlenz

      Hi Katie, let me reach out to the local players who developed this ball and I’ll be in contact with you. I don’t believe they’ve officially launched it yet. We’ve been testing it locally and have found it’s practically impossible to crack, yet plays like a Franklin X and not too far off from a Dura40.

    • andrewlenz

      Katie, they aren’t officially launched yet but you can contact Tristan at tgbjork@icloud.com, he’s one of the two founders. Feel free to share that email address as you see fit.

  2. Patty

    My name is Patty and I am a “court representative “ for Tristan and Imran’s “Eleven to Win” pickleball. I am at Brommer consistently and would love to share this new phenomenal ball with you. No one has broken one yet. The polymer formula and technology of drilling the holes is different than all other balls on the market. This is why they do not crack or go out of round. I have found them to stay on the paddle just a little longer than the Dura-40 allowing the player to place their shot with more accuracy. If you come to the Brommer courts almost anyone will be able to point me out to you. The balls are available for $10.00 for 3.

  3. Jay Z

    How noisy are they compared to the Dura 40 and Franklin X? How about to the Onyx ball?
    I would like to try them here in Monterey, CA.

    • andrewlenz

      Hi Jay, I’d say they are similar to the Dura 40 or the Franklin X in terms of noise. If you are talking about the Onyx Pure 2 ball, that’s a softer/quieter ball. The local guys just came out with a new ’11 to Win’ ball that they are calling the “Pro” ball. It’s a bit harder—bounces like the Dura 40—though, while still hard to break, is not as indestructible as the standard ’11 to Win’ ball. We did manage to break a well-used ‘Pro’ ball on a recent cold night. I’ve never personally had one of the originals break on me, though I heard it eventually happens as the plastic eventually wears down and the walls get thinner.

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