Adventures of Andrew Lenz and a Yellow Ball

Month: November 2021 (Page 1 of 4)

Rest in Peace, Grita

Sunday, November 28, 2021 (Court Day #439)

It was a sunny morning and would be a wonderful warm November day. When I arrived at Derby Park at 8:45 a.m., four players were dinking and warming up on a city net. I got about setting up and blowing off the courts. I received a fair amount of help setting up nets, which was great. I only had to set up a couple by myself. The irony was that while I had been there early, when I finished setting up, four courts where in use and I was the odd man out waiting to play!


Some very sad news today. Allan K. told me Grita—Grita Orescan Baron—a regular up until the pandemic—passed away recently. I’d occasionally see her walking with her grandchild a few blocks from my house. Grita would collect dated bread from local bakeries for the needy. She occasionally share a loaf with pickleballers like me from the back of her car at Brommer if she felt that she had extra . . . a few times, I ended up with a loaf or two after a pickleball session.

Grita, from her Facebook page.

Grita was a very kind person. She also had very strong forehand drives!

Toy Drive

Shortly after 10 a.m., blew my whistle and stopped play. I introduced myself as the site coordinator to those who didn’t know me—I got an unexpected cheer and applause at that, a nice surprise—and told them that the board had asked me to remind everyone about the toy drive and that details are posted on the sign outside the gate. I also made a quick plead that players at the end of the session take down the net if they are done with the court. (This turned out to be extremely successful, I only had to help take down one net today.)

The crowd waiting to get on courts. You can just make out part of the toy drive sign by the entrance.

Mustache Matt was back with his daughter Sarah, the college student. This time he also brought Ryan, his son, the oldest of his three kids—as I was told by Ryan himself. Ryan lives in Brentwood up in the Bay Area. (Not the Brentwood of the Los Angeles area. I figure that I’m not the only one who gets confused over two California cities with the same name!)


Ted and I signed up in red, advanced. We ended up with Juls and a male player in our box. Now, officially per club guidelines, “advanced” is supposed to be a 4.0 rating and up. Eric and I are strong 3.5 players. Of the 40 or so players there today, we were the two strongest ones. Maybe Juls asked Ted to join our box, I don’t know. Knowing Ted, he would have said no. Regardless, Juls was outclassed in our game. I forget who she was teamed with but the game finished up 11-2 or 11-1. Granted, I’ve seen Juls play better.

I’m not a snooty guy. I show up early and stay late and play with whomever. But the color coding is there to help for more challenging, balanced games. The lesson is if you are going to “play up”, ask permission of those already signed up. And if you are in a box signed up as advanced and someone asks permission to play up, communicate with those already in your box.


So Ryan signed up in a game with Ted, Eric, and me. It turns out he’s a decent player. We played a few games with him. (Signing up and waiting our turns, of course.) Eric and I played against Ted and Ryan. It was a close game, which I was not expecting. Eric and I won only by a few points. But for the next one, with the sun to our backs, it was a different story. We won 11-1. Ryan is decent. Either a high 3.0 or a low 3.5. Solid with a lot of potential. He’s obviously athletic.

In a game where Larry Y. and I were teamed up, he said, “Let’s do that game again where we don’t hit outside the sidelines . . . I’ve been doing that too much today.” Larry likes spin a whole lot. Sometimes to the detriment of his overall play. Balls may spin and land outside the side of the court. That’s why I had suggested that he work on that during our game together on Thursday. Larry will at some point have a breakthrough and play fantastically . . . for now, he’s growing intermediate with a mix of awesome shots and shooting himself in the foot.

Eric and I had some fun games with Larry and Jenny, a woman in her 50s. I don’t think I’d met Jenny. She signed up in red, but was also not an advanced player. Sure, good hand-eye coordination and power, but little to no soft game. Lots of tennis background, but needs work to adjust to pickleball strategies and skills. Eric and I beat Larry and Jenny 11-0. We mixed it up and played a number of fun games.

1:39 p.m. and I was on my way out.

Monday, November 29, 2021 (No Play)

I shared the Grita news with whomever was on the SCPC board email that went out previously about the toy drive: Karen Long, Dan Bliss, Leslie, site coordinators.

Dan replied and said: “She survived plummeting in her car over a 100′ cliff in Big Sur in the summer of 2020. She was a true warrior and benevolent leader in the tennis community. Dean K. heard of her passing at the Huntsman in Utah showing how widely she was known and respected.”

And Karen also replied: “I spoke with her at length during the summer. She was battling emphysema and caring for her young granddaughter. She was quite ill at that time. I’m very sad to hear of her passing and wish to remember her as a vivacious athlete with a gentle spirit but vicious topspin drive shot.”

Tennis Elbow

My right forearm is bothering me a bit, but it’s more mid-forearm than my regular tennis elbow. I have a feeling that this is a result of the Bandit forearm strap that I’ve been wearing when playing right-handed. That’s good. I neglected to ice my arm after playing yesterday. I did use the massage gun on my forearm this morning though.

Number of days on a court: 439
Number of total hours: 2,152.5

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

Joe Returns on T-Day

Thanksgiving, Thursday, November 25, 2021 (Court Day #438)

Our 6-month-old corgi puppy Pepper had her spay surgery yesterday. My wife was up early and rustling around while the dog was whimpering, so I was awake shortly before 6:30 a.m.—an hour or so earlier than I’ve been waking up lately.

Last week . . . little did she know what was coming!

I was at Brommer Park a few minutes before 9 a.m. and there were about a dozen cars already in the lot. A rarity, two tennis players were there, occupying our four temporary net spaces. The four permanent pickleball courts were full.

I played in a game with Joe Macdonald. I didn’t recognize him—he recognized me—but after talking I figured it out. He is the middle school athletic director from the Bay Area who had emailed me back in September and we ended up playing one rather rotten game together at Brommer—we both had played poorly. I’m sure he was as unimpressed with me at the time as I had been with him! Today, we both played so much better in games we played together. Such a difference!

Joe’s formal school portrait.

I was hoping to weasel my way into a game with David (Asian, DDS), Cameron (young, red hair), and Shawnte. Instead, the court ended up me and Shawnte against Joe and Mark G. I played very well. Joe later said, “You were on fire. I don’t know if you made any mistakes.” Shawnte and I won 11-1, if I recall correctly. Joe got to see me warmed up and focused on this visit to Santa Cruz.

There was a game where I was partnered with Larry Y. I told Larry before we started, “In this game, your goal is to not hit any shots outside of the sidelines.” He liked that idea, having something to work on. As it was, he only hit one ball that landed to the left or right of the court . . . to his credit, I also had one shot that did the same. Larry did well controlling his shots.

Game of the Day

The game of the day was Shawnte and me against David and Cameron. That was the game that I was really hoping to get. It was a blast. We lost, but this one was mostly Shawnte not me. (I don’t typically throw partners under the bus, but this game was very un-Shawnte like, he’s a good player and a great guy.) I made maybe three errors the entire game.

David and I also played a game against Shawnte and Cameron. I played well in that game too. Fun stuff. I almost had a backhanded ATP past Cameron, but it sailed a few inches too long.

I noticed that David used a couple spin serves on me. That’s the current definition of a spin serve, that is, tossing the ball with spin then hitting the ball out of the air. He did get me on one of them—my return dropped about foot short of the net! But the next time I was ready.

Hits to the Chest

Of particular note, Cameron managed to hit me in the chest or upper paddle arm three times! He apologized, but heck, it’s part of the game. I don’t consider those unforced errors on my part, he saw an opening and attacked. But it does make me wonder if I need to keep my paddle up higher. I remember 4+ years ago Jerry Louis was holding a workshop and we were playing at the net and he smacked me in the chest with the ball: “If I see your paddle down, I’m going to take advantage.”


There were two guys from Berkeley, Will and Sean. It was Sean’s very first time playing pickleball. That was the only game that I opted to play left-handed today.

There was a family that came. Mom, dad, and four daughters (or so it seemed)—teens and early 20s maybe. They were obviously relatively new to the game. They spent the time on a court playing among themselves, but later, I saw the dad and one daughter in a game with Will and Sean.

At about a quarter to 1 p.m., the courts were in use, a group was waiting and it was looking difficult to get into games from there on out.

My tennis elbow is doing surprisingly well. Where I can feel it is when I straighten my right arm—like when locking my elbow. It hurts more on the inside my elbow than on the top of my forearm. As typical, I iced both the inside and outside of my elbow when I got home.

The view on my way out.

Number of days on a court: 438
Number of total hours: 2,148

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

New Nate

Tuesday, November 23, 2021 (Court Day #437)

It was busy, but not overly busy, when I got to Skypark shortly after 6:30. Two temporary nets were up, making six courts. Two dual-striped courts were dormant. Winter doldrums, perhaps. Or maybe just because it’s a holiday week. We’ll see if it picks back up before spring.

Nate (very left), Matt and his wife, Clayton (red shoes), and Maia blocking a woman behind her.

I got into all good games tonight. There were none where I felt I needed to take it easy on my opponents. That’s nice for change!

Matt, the guy I met at Derby Park a couple of weeks ago, was there. I almost didn’t recognize him with no cap and no sunglasses. I had to ask him to confirm that he was Matt! It was him. I’d never seen him in Scotts Valley before. He brought his wife this time, but I didn’t play a game with her.

I rotated through games with Matt, Clayton, Eric (Ann’s boyfriend), and Nate, whom I met tonight. Very good games. (Tim, Larry, Dan, and Mike B. were there all there, but I didn’t find myself in a game with any of them tonight.)


Nate is a younger fellow, 30-ish, sporting a unruly reddish beard. I was told Nate is new, but he’s the best newish player I’ve seen. He could drive, but had a decent soft game too. He’s serves were very good—I’d expect most players to be very happy to serve like that; his serves were fast and low. He had some rough spots in his game, but, boy, if I didn’t know better, I’d say he’d been playing for a couple of years.


I had at least two, if not three, shots where I swung to hit a ball and completely wiffed. I have a much harder time judging ball distance under lights, and I know it’s not just me. It’s funny when it happens.

It’s a Wrap

By 8:30, only a few players were left. I didn’t want to just hang out and bust myself into a game with the “younger guy clan” with Josh and Paul and those guys.

My tennis elbow is doing ok, but I could feel it a bit. I iced both the inside and outside of my elbow when I got home.

I felt I played ok tonight, I certainly wasn’t depressed afterward—that’s always a good telltale!

Number of days on a court: 437
Number of total hours: 2,144.5

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

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