Misadventures of Andrew Lenz and a yellow ball

Month: September 2021 (Page 1 of 4)

Singles & Trespassing

Thursday, September 30, 2021 (Court Day #415)

This was my first day playing in a week. I’d flown out Saturday night to Portland, Oregon, taking my mother to a birthday celebration for her dad’s brother (my great-uncle) who was turning 100. He is still sharp and funny, but has slowed down a lot—requiring a lot of help walking, especially up and down stairs, and also requiring oxygen after minor exertion. My mom and I flew back out early Monday afternoon, less than 48 hours after we had landed. There wasn’t time to pack in a pickleball outing with all the family there and the short nature of the trip.

Night Ball

I had one of my staff close so I was at Skypark at 6:30. It was another busy night. I helped Sharyl set up a portable net. We ended up with three temporary nets in addition to the four permanent courts.

Not exactly a slow evening!

I played the first half of the evening lefty to give my right arm a break.

Rob A. and I played a game against Mark D. and Judy. Rob and I took the lead and won handily.

The next game was Juls and me against Rob and Janet. Rob was playing very well. He served one that jumped away when it landed at my backhand. I have a much better appreciation for the challenge of those chainsaw/spin serves! Rob had another that bounced oddly but straight on. I wish I saw these more often. Without practice, they are hard to handle.

Newbies

Janet and I, then Rob and I, ended up playing a game Sabina and Vanessa—each time with Sabina and Vanessa on opposite sides since they had been only playing about three months. I played both games lefty with Sabina. Rob and I were taking it very easy in the game . . . well, until Rob cranked it up and started poaching and serving a bit harder. I do have to say that Sabina did an admirable job handling the servers better than I was expecting! I was doing my best to get it over the net in a fashion that was easily returnable for Vanessa.

Singles

I played a game of singles against Rob and lost 11-2. I got my clock cleaned. Rob has gotten so much better over the last few years. I’d say he’s a 4.0 these days. He’s also been able to “get in” with stronger players—that and he’s a firefighter so he has a lot of free time/days to play.

Once most regulars left, John A. and I played game of singles. He won 11-3. He was on his high school’s tennis team and it showed. That said, we played a second game and I was leading 9-3, then 10-4 . . . then he scored 5 points to make it 10-9. I was dragging, but I won the next next point and the game.

Trespassing!

John and I strolled out at 9:45, leaving the younger group of men playing. We were talking for about 5 minutes when a police cruiser pulled into the parking lot near us. Two very nice officers in their 20s walked over and said they got a complaint about the noise after the 9:30 court closing time. We got into a brief conversation about pickleball then they went to talk to the clan of guys still playing.

The officers left about five minutes later and John and I continued to chat for another 10 minutes or so in the dark parking lot. And grumpy man rode up on a bike. He said—in an eastern block accent—that the park was closed and we were trespassing. He asked what we were doing there and that the motion lights had gone off behind his house. (Nevermind that his house is right next to a walking path or that there is a lot of wildlife around from the woods!) He ranted for a bit then said if we didn’t leave he was going to call the police and report us as having tried to break into his house. That made me really annoyed. We weren’t bothering anyone, we were having a quiet conversation probably 50 yards from the nearest house. The guys on the court had stopped playing and were quiet as well. The man even followed us as we walked out and continued to give us a hard time as I got into my car.

Frustration, Singles, and the Future

Playing with Rob made obvious the deficiencies in my game. Singles was great for making plain the lack of accuracy in many of my shots, that and lack of decision-making of where to send the ball. Singles is different. As I told John, in doubles, you can be a bit sloppy and know that your partner is there to cover the other half of the court. In singles, if you get sloppy, the point will be over in very short order. I think playing singles more regularly could really improve my doubles game.


Number of days on a court: 415
Number of total hours: 2,081

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

Ugh. Enough Hack Pickleball

Tuesday, September 28, 2021 (Court Day #414)

I had to work a bit later. When I arrived at the courts 7 p.m., thing were hopping. I hadn’t seen that many players at Skypark in quite a while! Though the heavy crowd thinned considerably by 8 p.m.

Boatload of players!

I played at least half my games tonight lefthanded to give my tennis elbow a break. But later, I had some stronger players to play against and opted to play righty.

Serves

One thing that was notable was I ended one game on three unreturnable serves. Serve, into net. Serve, into net. Serve, into net. Game over. John (a relatively new addition to the scene) commented to his partner about my serves during a different game, “His serves are tricky.”

Relapse

I’m starting to realize that—strategy-wise— my game has relapsed some during my nearly two years of left-handed play. I’m doing too much driving at opponents at the net and not enough dropping. It’s sloppy. I need to get back to a smarter game.

Play wrapped up and we all left at 9:30.

My right knee was aching a bit. Nothing major, but it was making itself known.


Number of days on a court: 414
Number of total hours: 2,078

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

You Don’t Have That Shot

Sunday, September 19, 2021 (Court Day #413)

Friday morning, I had an “onboarding” Zoom meeting with the Director of Ambassadors for the USA Pickleball, Steve Stone. There were three other new ambassadors on the video call as well from across the United States: New Jersey, Florida, Pennsylvania, and me in California. It lasted about 90 minutes and covered the ambassador resources section of their website, the partners and sponsors of USA Pickleball, the communication chain from Steve down to us ambassadors.

Brommer

My elbow has been a little unhappy. I played most games Thursday night lefty. Today, it was a mix. Mostly righty, but some lefty.

I parked around 9:30 a.m. and the Brommer Park lot about 3/4 full.

Confident Tristin

There is a taller Doug and a shorter, newer Doug. The latter and I played a game against Tristin and Juls. We “won” the first game. Tristin hadn’t warmed up and was taking it easy . . . I could tell, he wasn’t attacking shots like he could. After I called him on one of those he said, “I wanted the game to last longer.”

In our second rematch game, Doug and I were up 8-0. Juls expressed some concern, but Tristin told her, “We’ll win.” Tristin then started playing very aggressively, poaching shots right and left, and they caught up 8-10 but we were still ahead. It was our serve and I didn’t play hard, hoping to extend the game. (As Tristin had done in the first game.) They won the next point and the game was over! What? It hadn’t been 8-10, it was 10-8 their advantage! Oops. I told Tristin that I would have played differently and he poked fun, “It’s always good to know the score.” I guess it goes to show how seriously I was taking the game. Ha!

That Thing You Do

Between games, Juls told me, “You do that curve thing with your paddle and attack low balls. No one else does that.” I’m fairly certain she means that I brush up on dinks, attacking by lifting and adding topspin while at the kitchen line. Part of me is proud of myself and part of me is worried that whatever I’m doing that is unusual is contributing to my tennis elbow. But I don’t think so. What gets sore is the muscle that would be pulling the paddle/hand back at the wrist. Rotating the hand inward or sideways inward are both different muscles.

Not Quite Ready

I was able to weasel my way into a game with Tristin, Patty, and Inran. I figure Inran is the strongest player and me the weakest—though on a good day I can hang with Patty—so I partnered with Inran to keep it more balanced. I’d never played with Imran before. He’s overall fairly serious, but he’s a good guy who you can get to smile here and there.

We played two games and lost both. Even though Imran said he played badly, it was nearly all me. Imran is very consistent. He made a few mistakes, but that happens when you are in a game when your less-skilled partner is messing up—you aren’t as focused. In the first game, from midcourt, I drove the ball and Tristan—already at the net—took advantage and attacked the ball. After the rally, I apologized to Inran and said, “Tristan is too fast for that shot.” Inran replied, “Everyone is too fast for that shot . . . it’s a bad shot.” And he’s right. Though if you spend a lot of time playing against lower skilled players, sometimes you can get away with it.

In the next game, I did the same hard drive with the same result. Duh. You’d think I’d learn. I turned to Imran, sheepishly, “I did it again.” Directly to the point, he said, “You don’t have that shot.” It’s the same shot that Oleg used against me 3-4 years ago and I returned the ball past him for a winner. Unless you can drive very hard to an awkward spot for your opponent—like between their paddle-side hip and armpit—it’s a risky shot. I tend to just hit it hard without a precise target in mind. I either need to just go to a dropshot or get much more deliberate in my drives. Regardless, I need to pay attention to what is effective when playing against better players.

New Ball

After our games, I asked Imran about how their “Eleven to Win” ball business venture was going, Imran mentioned that the ball we’d been using was their new “professional ball” with a bit higher bounce. They have a bunch of standard balls coming but global logistics are completely messed up right now. One of my supplies sent me a photo of dozens of container ships just waiting off the coast for their turn to come into port—everything is really backed up and also much more expensive to ship. A cargo container that cost $3,000 to ship overseas to America a year ago is now costing $12,000 – $15,000. It’s nuts.

”Mom”

A visiting woman, who was part of a couple who was playing repeatedly with John P. and Jon B., was introduced to me. She was amused and delighted to meet me. She told me that when she met locals this weekend and she told them that her son is Andrew that people would say, “Oh, we love Andrew! He’s so nice. He owns an art gallery.” I was pleased to hear that local players said good things about me. Her actual son is almost certainly the new other Andrew whom I played with recently. And just to clarify, I run an artist materials store that is still owned by my retired parents, we do picture framing, but it’s not a gallery.

Oh, and when she left, I yelled over, “Bye, ‘Mom’!” (She was amused!)
I think it was Renee who asked, “Is she really your mom?”
“No…” and I went on to explain the story!

John and son Ryan

A older gentleman, John, whom I’d put at 70 or so, was there with his son Ryan who was visiting from the Sacramento area. I didn’t know John, but he said he lived two blocks away from Brommer Park. He doesn’t usually play at Brommer on Sundays—at least, I don’t remember ever seeing him. I got them into a game. It was Ryan’s third time playing pickleball, but he has a solid tennis background, so he was good with hand-eye coordination. He would often step in the kitchen or hit balls long, but he played decently.

On my way out. John and his son Ryan plus Rick and Renee wrapping up.

I played until about 1:15, then headed home to watch my recorded football game and share it with my son on the east coast via Facetime.

When I got home, I iced both the outside and the inside of my elbow. I usually do just the outside, but I felt it needed it overall.


Thursday, September 23, 2021 (No Play)

My forearm is definitely needing rest. It’s occasionally noticeable when doing random things.

Pickleball Central sent out an email today announcing that Adidas has entered the fray of pickleball with some new paddles. Pickleball is growing and growing and drawing the attention of the big sports brands. Prince jumped in a couple of years ago.


Saturday, September 25, 2021 (No Play)

I’m continuing to rest my elbow. It most noticeable when I straighten my right arm and “lock” my elbow, then I feel mild pain where the two bones meet. Or if/when I reach up to touch the same shoulder, such as squeezing my forearm and bicep together. Same pain for that too.


Number of days on a court: 413
Number of total hours: 2,075.5

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

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