Adventures of Andrew Lenz and a Yellow Ball

Month: October 2021 (Page 1 of 5)


Sunday, October 31, 2021 (Court Day #428)

In other news, the board of directors of USA Pickleball voted on new rules a few days ago on Thursday. There are some changes such as time out protocols, etc., but the biggest on to me is that the so called “spin serve” toss will be restricted to only one hand come January. Then you can spin the ball all you want but only when holding the ball in one hand and not against any other surfaces.

The Treasurer

Dave Witte, SCPC Treasurer had called this week and asked me to bring the envelope of player donations from Derby two weeks ago. In the past, it might be even 8 weeks before I’d see Dave or someone from the board to pass off the envelope(s). I told him I’d bring it. This morning, however, the envelope wasn’t where I’d left it on the bookcase in the bedroom with my things. I didn’t see it in my backpack either but if I looked any longer, I’d be late to open as site coordinator.

Derby Park

I arrived at 8:45 and Tom Sherwood was there with two women. “Oh, there you are! You’re late! I was here early to help you set up!” I unlocked the bins and got about to setting up and lugging temporary nets out of the storage bins. Tom and players helped set up the nets while I blew off the courts.

I soon played an assortment of games of little consequence. I did feel bad after one game. I was playing a game lefty with a woman against Eric and barefoot Terry S. We were losing. When it got to be 10-4 or somesuch, I switch to righty. But it was too late to make up for the shortcomings of my occasional errant lefty shot and the unsuccessful shots of my partner.
Afterward, my partner pointed out, “You weren’t playing to win.”
“Oh, I was playing to win, but there are limitations playing lefty.”
“I was waiting to sign up with you and Eric.”
Ah. She was playing up and hoping to get a sense of an authentic higher-skill game. Oops. Well, she got maximum ability from our opponents which is the most important part. If the game had been life and death or a tournament, I would have played righty. But it was a rec game with a mix of skills.

New guy Matt

As I was heading out the gate, I was met by a tall broad-shouldered man in his 50s sporting a gray mustache who asked, “Who’s in charge here?”
“Me!”, I smiled. “I’m Andrew.”
“Matt.” He extended a hand. “How’s it work here?”
I gave him an explanation of the signup board and other necessities. He asked what constituted an advanced player.
“Well, typically 4.0+, but today…”, I looked around, “…3.5.” Playing righty, one could argue I was the best player or Eric S. would also be a good argument too. Neither of us is a 4.0.
“I shouldn’t slow anyone down, I don’t think,” said Matt. I was looking forward to playing against him. And maybe 30-40 minutes later, I got the chance. I’d been playing lefty all morning, but figured I’d play righty. Matt, and two men I didn’t know, John (I’d seen him around before) and Ben (whom I hadn’t). Ben would be my partner by chance. It worked out though. I was the strongest player and Ben was the least strong.

I was playing very well in that game, though I had a great attackable high ball in the middle to my forehand and I slammed that kill shot . . . right into the net. But overall, I played very well.

”You switched hands!” It was a female tournament player whom I’d just played with now watching from the sidelines. Lori, I think her name was. “I’m playing right handed now.” She asserted with a big smile, “I can tell!” Yep, playing well.

Matt and John are high 3.0 or low 3.5 players. Probably a tournament 3.0. Matt is a banger. (As he said, “I have only one speed!”) John has a bit more finesse.

Party Time!

The Santa Cruz Derby Girls (the local roller derby team) had shown up in force later in the morning all dressed up in costumes with food and music. They signed up for games and meshed in. They were still going after everyone else had left.


Eric and I partnered against some other players. I played lefty, otherwise, we would have been overly formidable. Even playing with me playing lefty, after a net volley battle, Eric commented, “I forget how quick your hands are.” Fun to hear!

Eric, John, Larry

Eric, John P., and I were trying to find a strong player to round out our game. As we looked over the courts, it was slim pickin’s for strong players. Larry L. looked to be the closest thing. A couple of courts were idle so Eric and I drilled for a few minutes then John P. joined us. When Larry’s existing game ended, I called him over.

Larry and I took on Eric and John. We lost two games, though the second game was closer.

Larry hit a cross-court shot dink with me at his left, toward Eric. I figured what Eric was planning and, sure enough, he went for the ATP, but I was ready. I hit the ball back where Eric had been but John was wisely moving to fill the space and returned my shot. But between the space and moving, it was an attackable ball and I put it away. Fun point.

I wanted a third game—Larry and I had scored better in the second game—but Larry wanted to change it up. I don’t mind losing if it’s a good game. In rec play, I’d rather be challenged with the strongest players as my opponents.


Eric turned away from the net to John and replied (to some unheard comment), “He doesn’t play by the rules.” They were talking about me. But it was wasn’t really about rules, it was about expectations. John had hit a nice cross-court dink, but I had judged it high enough that I could hit up on the ball with my paddle with a closed face and lift it while imparting a lot of topspin and keep the ball low and fast. It was a winner as I hit it between them. There aren’t many local players who attack dinks like that. (Juls had mentioned this some weeks back, “You are the only player I’ve seen who attacks balls like that.”) To Eric’s credit, he predicted my next attack like that and was able to return it.

Missing Envelope. Gag.

Dave Witte showed up shortly before noon. Nope, after looking hard, the donations envelope was definitely not in my backpack. I texted my wife. She’d moved the envelope to my computer desk without telling me. Ah. Dave said he’d call my house and if I wasn’t there yet, he’d just get it from my wife.

It was about 1:30 by the time we stopped play and took down club nets, leaving the Derby Girls to use the inferior city nets.


When I pulled up in front of my house, Dave Witte was standing and talking to my wife Kristen outside our front porch. I think she’d bent his ear, since she told me how Dave is a sailor and had a sailboat for a long time and some other insights about Dave! But Dave got his envelope!

Number of days on a court: 428
Number of total hours: 2,118

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

Mixing it Up

Thursday, October 28, 2021 (Court Day #427)

This was a very unusual night in that it was warm and humid. I arrived at 7 p.m. and there was still a faint bit of natural light yet but the court lights were needed and on.

With the exception of two and a half games late in the evening, I played everything left-handed. One early game was against Maia and Nancy with Catherine as my partner. She and I won.

Janet complimented my play as on observer somewhere along the line when I was playing lefty.

End Games

Tim and I played two games (right-handed) against Paul and Matt. After paying a handful of games against them now, I’ve come to the conclusion that Matt is the better player of the two. Tim and I won both games 11-4, 11-3. They both have good hand-eye coordination and made some good shots but have a ways to go in the soft game and strategy.

Tim and I were leading against Josh and his friend Jason 8-4 when the lights clicked off at 9:30.

I felt pretty good about my play, but that’s easy when the competition isn’t 4.0+. I made three attempts while playing righty on poaches while leaping to my right. Two went great. But one sailed unceremoniously a good foot past the baseline. You always feel a little sheepish with your partner when that happens! Oops.

Home, then icing my arm.

Friday, October 29, 2021 (No Play)

Sigh. This is my home town. About 50 yards from the Derby tennis/pickleball courts is a where this news article takes place.

Santa Cruz is a bit too drug friendly. It seems someone is dying of an overdose every few months.

On a happier note, the SCPC had it’s Halloween Party this morning. I’ve been so busy, I had completely forgotten about it . . . I wouldn’t have been able to attend this year anyway with staff on vacation and out sick.

Winners of the team round robin! Alan C., Maia Zohara, Sycha, Paul McClintock, and Janet Benson.
(Not shown, Tom Sherwood.) Alan and Sycha and Tom, I know well. The others, not so much.

Saturday, October 30, 2021 (No Play)

Pickleball has been going mainstream. This past week, an article appeared in Vanity Fair magazine.

And, somehow, I missed this from May this year…

Cubs pass the time by playing pickleball in the bullpen

Number of days on a court: 427
Number of total hours: 2,113.5

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

All Righty Then (Very Punny)

Tuesday, October 26, 2021 (Court Day #426)

Today sucked. With one of my staff in one department on vacation, another called in and couldn’t work. I had to deal with three complaining customers—one who thought one of my kindest female staff members had smirked at her, another complaining that the products she bought in our brick and mortar California store weren’t as cheap as an online store based in the middle of nowhere with cheap rent and cheap labor, and another complaining about how his custom framing project is taking a long time (we have a sign posted that COVID-impacts have caused long turnaround times and due dates are very approximate). And one of my my part-time staff gave two week notice just as we are on the cusp of the busy holiday season. To top that all off, my aunt Mary Jo—my dad’s younger sister—passed away this afternoon. She moved to Florida so I hadn’t seen her for many years, unfortunately. She’s the first relative of my parents’ generation who we’ve lost. She had a big heart but had bad taste in men—ones who would punch holes in the wall or otherwise cause trouble in her life. I believe she’s in a better place. May she rest in peace.


Pickleball would be a good distraction for me. I stopped by my parents’ house on the way to Scotts Valley. My younger brother John was already there and my sister Diane arrived not long after I did. The lost really hadn’t sunk in yet for my dad. “Check with me in three days,” he said as I left. He was still processing. He appreciated us being there.

The Courts

I pulled into the Skypark parking lot a few minutes after 7 p.m. The courts were full, portable nets were on all striped courts. Dan had texted earlier asking if I was playing tonight and I told him that I was. He beat me there and was already in a game.

Tim and Terry on the near court.
Dan and Janet in a game. Maia to the left of Dan near the fence.

Paul and Matt

Janet and I played two games against Paul and his buddy Matt, who had been playing singles off by themselves. Those were two very close games. We won both. Paul and Matt are mostly bangers but can sometimes pull off some dinking. Janet said I played well. I made mistakes, but I agree, I played well.

The Return of Clayton

Clayton was back. He was playing with a man named Scott—a Scott whom I’d never met—and Clayton said they were doing a tournament this coming weekend. I played with Maia who is a relative newbie. Maia played all right, entry 3.0 level. I was playing pretty well. She and I won. Clayton and I were the strongest players. We did a “rubber match” and Maia and I won again.

I played a couple of games against Casey (my former PT doctor) and Dan (Casey’s PT assistant). The first game was with newbie Louique—I’m guessing on the spelling, he said it was French—as my partner and the second was with Scott (the Scott I’d seen now and then at Skypark). Scott is a much stronger player than Louique and unlike the first game, Scott and I won the second.

Casey is getting pretty good. He’s slicing his service returns. I wasn’t expecting that and he got me on a couple of them, winning the rally.

I was in some other game when the lights snapped off. Ah. The city fixed the 9:30 timer for the lights! Hopefully, that will keep the psycho neighbor guy at bay.

Dan offered me my Prince paddle back but I told him to continue to hang onto it for now.


I played the entire night righty. It was not 100%. I could feel it a bit, but it was not bad. It got a healthy dose of icing when I got home though.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021 (No Play)

Hmmmm. My tennis elbow is a bit more noticeable in routine activities such as closing a door, tapping on my iPad, some other things. Worrisome.

Number of days on a court: 426
Number of total hours: 2,111

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

« Older posts

© 2024 Pickleball Journey

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑

Pickleball Journey