Adventures of Andrew Lenz and a Yellow Ball

Month: June 2021 (Page 1 of 2)

Some Right-handed Play!

Sunday, June 20, 2021 (Court Day #386)

Yesterday evening, I trimmed the pair of AirFeet insoles (finally) and installed them into my shoes, removing my older/other insoles. It’s curious. They are like walking with a waterbed in your shoes. Squishy.

Where to go?

I had a busy morning. At about 10:05, I had a decision to make. Head to Derby Park or Brommer? Soon, once official club play begins again—probably very soon with the state opening up from COVID on Tuesday last week—my Site Coordinator duties for the Santa Cruz Pickleball Club will resume and I’ll be responsible for Derby opening and supervising and closing. There will be no choice where I play. Generally, play is stronger at Brommer. Today, I chose Brommer.

Later in the day, Shawnte shared that Leslie—who holds Santa Cruz Pickleball Club’s Venue Coordinator board position—had said that Brommer will return to official club play on July 5. That’s a Monday this year. Derby can’t be too far behind.

Chin Chopper

Binh and me against Stuart and David Black. I got hit hard in the chin with a ball. Ouch! Binh and I lost. Binh was patient with all of my mistakes. Even though we lost, I love playing against players who play a strong game. Stuart may make a fair number of errors, but he’s great at dinking and half-volleying low balls and dropping them low back over the net. David generally plays a strong game.

OMG. Righty!

I had a game with some easier players. Juls and I played as a team. I opted to play the game right-handed. Crazy, right? My shoulder has been feeling better. I’m now at almost eight months past rotator cuff surgery. I figured that I’d give it a few hits and see. It went pretty well. Even backhands were surprisingly manageable, unlike the significant pain I was feeling with my last attempt. Quite a difference.

Jeannie is Back!

Jeannie appeared. I hadn’t seen her in well over a year! Yep, pandemic.

A man I’d seen before but rarely, Alex, and a younger guy named Hue played against Jeannie and me. We played three games, swapping sides after each. Jeanine got a number of shots that I was impressed by. Nice work, Jeannie! After a game or two and we went on a water break, I put on my Bandit tennis elbow brace. I was starting to feel my forearm, I felt it was a good move to brace it.

Allan (in dark blue), Ricky (red), Juls (light blue), Rick (white & blue), David (pink), Hue (black).

The last game was Shawnte and me against Binh and David DDS. We got clobbered. Me, literally. I got hit on the right cheek. The second hit to the face in one day. When it rains, it pours! I was playing right-handed, but it was obvious that I was still a little rusty.

2:40 p.m., time to call it an afternoon. I needed to drive my wife up to her sister’s house up in the Bay Area.

So . . . these AirFeet insoles. The jury is still out. Maybe it’s a gimmick. I’ll give it more time.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021 (No Play)

My shoulder is getting better. I can reach behind my back to tuck in my shirt with less pain. Still pain, but less pain.

I seem to be having some discomfort in my right forearm. Yep. The tennis elbow spot. Just four games and I may be redeveloping tennis elbow. Arg.

Friday, June 25, 20201 (No Play)

Boy. My forearm is not happy. So disappointing. It’s depressing. If tennis elbow returns in full force, do I want to play pickleball the rest of my life left-handed, knowing that I’ll never get as good as I have been right-handed? So depressing.

Number of days on a court: 386
Number of total hours: 1,095

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MacKenzie Creek Park, San Diego County

Tuesday, June 15, 2021 (Court Day #385)

On Sunday afternoon, my wife and I drove to San Diego to visit her mom for a few days. We’ll be driving back tomorrow. Last night, I posted on the Pickleball Forum on Facebook that I was looking for a Tuesday morning game around San Diego. The internet can sometimes move at lightening speed and this was one of those times. I had two responses in short order. One was from a man named Al Lim. He mentioned that there is play everyday at MacKenzie Creek Park though folks tend to clear out some by 11 a.m. due to the heat. He said if I arrived at 8 a.m., I’d get into a game. Though he said he’d played a lot the last few days and so he wouldn’t be there.

I arrived at MacKenzie Creek Park at 8 a.m. It was already warm. The sun was peeking out, then hidden by a welcome high cloud, then back out again. 

The view as you walk up to the great MacKenzie Creek Park courts. Lynn is the one in pink.

I walked in and a few of the courts were still empty. I introduced myself to a tall woman—the only player not in a game right then—who said her name was Lynn. I mentioned that Al had directed me to the venue here. She pointed to a court and said they’d be finishing soon and we could get a game there. She asked what level I play. I told her, “I had shoulder surgery in October and I’m playing left-handed, but I’m decent. I won a gold medal lefty, but it was in 3.0”, me shrugging off the medal. She said, “3.0, ok”.

Lynn, Tess, Bong

Lynn and I played against a woman named Tess and a very fit Filipino man, Bong. Lynn and I lost, maybe 11-5 or thereabouts. It would take me a couple of games to get rolling.

We rotated players with Tess and me playing against Lynn and Bong. We won that one.

A shorter man in a bright blue shirt strolled in between points. Lynn called over to him, “Al! This is your charge!” I waved. So Al was coming anyway, great! Al waved and said hello.

Our next game Bong and me versus Tess and Lynn. Bong and I won pretty handily.

A stocky man named Tony joined our game, Tess had to leave. I overheard Lynn explaining that I was playing left handed due to surgery but I was “pretty good”. Tony plays in a misleading lazy, carefree style but has power and spin. Bong and I won again but it was bit tougher of a game.

Al, Jose, Mark

I was next in a game with Al against Mark and Jose. Al may be 74 (as he said on Facebook) or 75 (as he told me today), but he’s in good shape and can smack the ball. I was surprised and impressed given his years. Mark and Jose were both strong intermediate players. We had a few long—maybe 15-20 hits—rallies with dinking battles.

Al and I lost three times. 11-6 for the last one. But those were very fun and back-and-forth great games.

Al needed to take off but told me, “Let me know when you are back. I’ll play with you.” Sounds like I didn’t make a bad impression.

Jose, Mark, Al, and me. I’m sporting my aging Santa Cruz Pickleball Club cap.

Jose said a handful of the people there are racquetball players like himself who weren’t allowed to play indoors during COVID restrictions so they have been playing pickleball instead. He pointed out Mark and some others.

The Other Jose

Later, I played with a tall older man named Jose against Jose and a Latina woman with an “L” name. Jose and pulled out to a strong lead but I was playing thinking, “it’s fun sometimes to play a leisurely game against less strong players” but then we let them catch up then win. Oops. That happens sometimes when you don’t take a game as seriously. Right?

Tall Jose explained that the beautiful courts were done in the last year. They had been tennis courts but they weren’t getting used much, so the pickleball players got together and came up with money with the city to redo them as pickleball courts. Judging from today, a very warm day that even the locals complained about the heat, it was a successful and meaningful change.

Xato and Tony

The last game was a shorter older man with a thick Mexican accent named Xato (“chay-toe”) and me against Tony and a man whose name I forget. We were very much outclassed. We lost something like 11-4.

My wife had texted about lunch plans with her mom and her mom’s best friend. It was time to go. There were a few empty courts.

The view as I left at 11:10. Some empty courts.


This was a great venue. Good players, new courts. I hope to be back!

Number of days on a court: 385
Number of total hours: 1,090.5

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

Like Old Times

Sunday, June 13, 2021 (Court Day #384)

I had some things to do in the morning then my wife I were driving to San Diego at 1:30 to visit her mother. I figured I could squeeze in a little play today. I opted for Derby Park since it’s closer to my house. I tried to park in the gravel lot to the north of the courts since I was late, but the gate were locked. I’d have to take my chances with street parking. Fortunately, there was a spot right across from the walkway into the park. I had remembered to bring my portable net this time and carried it in, but it turned out that there were plenty which others had brought.

By the entrance, barefoot Terry (wearing toe-shoes today), Maria, Tom M. and Sherry were doing what Terry referred to as “their own tournament”, so I’d have to find another court and other people to play with.

Eric, Ted B., and Tom S. were in a game. I’d have to wait. 

Leisurely Game

But there were four people sitting on the bench at the far side of the courts. I walked over and asked if anyone wanted to play on the adjacent open court. I’d always rather play—even a weak game—than not play. One on the bench turned out to be Larry from last week. Sally was the outgoing one who did most of the talking. A woman named Kim joined us. She would be my partner. Larry was the strongest of them, followed by Sally, then Kim. They are all lower-intermediate players at best, 2.5s and 3.0s. Even playing lefty, I was the strongest player. It was a close back and forth game, but Kim and I won. Too much back and forth—I really wanted this game to wrap up so I could get into the harder game that was waiting. Part of it was my own fault. There were at least 2-3 shots where I had winners but in my excitement either hit them into the net or hit them out.

Ted and Eric and Mike K. waited about five minutes for me to finish my game. Eric and I partnered up. It was like old times when we played tournaments. We took off to a fast start, but I was just making too many errors so they caught up and passed our score. Playing lefty isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.

Ted and I played one against Eric and Mike. It was a fairly close game, but we lost.

The next game was Tom S. and I partnered up against Eric and Ted. As one would expect, we lost that one. 11-4 or something to that effect.

Shortly after 11:30, it was time to go. Tom was ready to play with one of the free derby girls as a fourth—as I was—but Ted knew her play level and wasn’t interested. So that was that.

At least I now know who the stocky women were from last week. The Santa Cruz Derby Girls are a local popular roller derby team. I guess they decided to take up pickleball!

Number of days on a court: 384
Number of total hours: 1,087.5

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

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