Thursday, August 26, 2021 (Court Day #405)
I picked up my daughter Charlotte from work, ran her home, then ran out to Skypark. I arrived at 6:40 p.m. Eric S. and I had texted back and forth earlier today with him finally saying he was coming tonight. That is always awesome. Eric is a strong player.
When I arrived there were two tennis players and a ton of pickleball players—about 25 of them. Eric was already there, but involved in a game on the far side.
Kristin L. was one point into a new game with Mike B. against Mark D. and Barb B. when she very generously offered her place in the game. How thoughtful! I walked over into the game without warm up and I was optimistically thinking Mike and I would walk away with this one, but I hit a would-be winner past the baseline, slammed another into the net, hit yet another wide outside the sideline, and otherwise made a few mistakes. Playing with a good player as your partner magnifies those mistakes, but Mike is a great guy and never says an unkind word. We did go on to win, even with my “first game” errors.
Mike and I also played a game against Terry S. and Kristin L. We won 11-5.
Game of the Day
The game I most enjoyed was me and Eric versus Mike B. and Adrian. Eric and I scored a point as the first servers and never were behind. We won 11-5. Eric and I naturally mesh very well together. (We should given that we played a few tournaments together!)
There were two particularly memorable shots. One was an overhead slam that I switched to lefty and hit the ball to Adrian’s feet for a winner. (Eric and Adrian were both to my left side.) Another was more basic, a service return came between us (me on the left) and I said, “I got it.” I can’t tell you how many times “I got it” results in a horrible shot! This time though, I executed a lovely cross court drop shot, Mike popped it up just enough for me to attack it for a winner. Success!
I’ll digress a bit and share a memory. At least three years ago, Eric and I were partnered in game, with me on the right. The opponent across from me lobbed toward Eric but I switched to my left hand and took the ball over the middle . . . my shot sailed wildly high and wide of the court. “Did you switch to your left hand for that shot?”, Eric asked, bemused—and probably disgusted. I should have let that one go and trusted my partner to get it. Tonight, there were two things different. One, the lob was angled at me. And, two, I’ve had over two years of practice playing lefty. These days might I take a middle shot heading to my prepared partner, even with my developed lefty skills? I’d hope not . . . unless I felt I had an obvious winner.
We started a game of Eric and Larry vs. me and Tim. A few points in, Eric jumped up, hit a winner past me, but landed on his ankle wrong and ended up sitting on the ground. Someone retrieved an instance ice pack for him. Unfortunately, Eric hobbled out and headed for home. He was concerned, but apparently this has happened before with his ankle, so the injury didn’t freak him out.
One of the recent “clan” of young guys is tall fellow named Josh. Josh said this was his second time out. He and I played against Tim and John (relatively new guy). I asked Josh before the first serve if he was interested in me giving him advice. He eagerly agreed and so 3-4 times during the game I’d did so.
My key points to Josh were, surprise, get up to the net (#1 among rookies), keep the ball low, return deep and—one I seem to need more work on myself at times—placement over power!
We played two games and lost both to Tim and John. Not a shock. Tim said he’d been playing a year and a half. (Honestly, he’s darn good for a year and a half.) John is a decent player, if not polished yet.
Matt & Paul
Josh’s friends Matt and Paul (the taller of the two) had been playing singles but were resting. Tim and I invited them into a game. They said they weren’t 100% up on all the rules, so we explained as needed. We were just a few rallies into the game when we were plunged into darkness at 9 p.m. sharp. Paul said he had contacted the City of Scotts Valley about resetting the time back to 9:30, but as Matt speculated, “One part-time guy probably won’t get to it right away.”
There will be good indefensible shots. I was feeling bad about not being able to return a shot when I realized that the ball hit my arm about 3 inches above my armpit. It was a chicken wing shot. It’s very hard to return a ball when it is arriving somewhere between your hip and your shoulder of your paddle arm. I have to just relax and accept that there’s not always anything that I can do.
I am secretly proud of my serving variety. I can hit the ball just about wherever I want: receiver’s backhand or forehand, add spin, drop it short. And I mix them up—including lob serves. In the game against Eric, he was at the baseline. I dropped my serve over the net just past the kitchen line for an unreturnable serve. “Sneaky!”, exclaimed Eric. Ace.
More icing with my cold pack tonight. I have to be careful. Playing every two days can start to take its toll with my propensity for tennis elbow.
USAPA Sportsmanship Guide
USA Pickleball sent out a newsletter today. Nothing earth shattering, but the most interesting one thing I found it was their new Sportsmanship Guide:
It’s kind of sad that they have to put something like this out. And I have a feeling that the people who actually need it will never see it.
I’ll share one story. The guide does say to let people know if a ball is rolling onto their court during play and otherwise let play continue if there is no risk. Excellent advice. Here’s a twist. I was at Brommer Park a couple of months ago and our ball rolled into an adjacent court. Those players weren’t in a rally on that court and were just standing out of position and chatting and they were not about to resume play. I walked over to retrieve the slow rolling ball and the woman (whom I had never seen before) gave me a dirty look then angrily berated me for not calling “ball” to let them know. Seriously? Rather than giving me the benefit of the doubt, she assumed that I was being irresponsible. I explained, “You aren’t playing right now…” She wouldn’t have it and added another negative comment. I just let it go and moved back to my court. Honestly, I was very annoyed with her. I was hoping to go up to her and introduce myself and say, “My name is Andrew, I think we got off on the wrong foot..” but she left before our game finished. Maybe it stemmed from her being mad at herself or her partner for not playing well. Regardless, I didn’t think what she did was very nice. Always be kind.
Friday, August 27, 2021 (No Play)
So here I am, 10:43 p.m. YouTube offered up a tennis U.S. Open semi-final from 1980 with Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe. Very evenly matched. In the tie-breaker, after over four hours of play, Connors hits an easy volley—a would-be winner—into the net. Soon after, he hits a would-be passing shot winner too long past the baseline. Granted, he was exhausted. But he was also a world-class pro. Occasional mistakes by me hitting a shot long or into the net have to be expected. That’s not an excuse to not try to improve my game, but mistakes will happen. I can’t be too hard on myself and expect perfection. I remember a fantastic quote from a legendary football coach:
So, my additional lesson is, chase perfection, but don’t be dejected if you don’t attain it. Even pros make mistakes.
Number of days on a court: 405
Number of total hours: 2,052
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