Adventures of Andrew Lenz and a Yellow Ball

Month: December 2021 (Page 1 of 3)

Annnd…back down

Thursday, December 30, 2021 (Court Day #448)

There are good days and bad days. Today? Frustrating.

I left work a few minutes before closing, went home, changed and was out to Skypark by 6:30. It was cold. If you exhaled deeply, a cloudy fog would hang in the air and drift.


Tonight was underwhelming play on my part. A few failed poaches. A few slams into the net—turning winners to losers. Several returns that were too deep and sailed out. And while we were racing to finish the last game before the lights clicked off at 9:30, my partner served and I remembered just before I was about to hit the ball that I needed to let the service return bounce—in my exuberance to keep the game rolling, I stepped in . . . dumb!

Sure, there was a game of Tim and me against Nate and a new guy Colin (tennis background) where we won 11-0. And there was another game where my partner and I were up 7-2, so I played the rest of the game lefty. We still won, but it made the game closer.

The lights clicked off at 9:30 as expected and we were done.

Nate Erne

I’m envious, Nate (as my partner) had a winning Erne shot against Tim; a forehand Erne shot down the middle. And, while solid, he’s still relatively new. To date, nearly five years in, I have no Erne shots. But I’ve never tried. Maybe that’s a goal for the new year coming up. No more chances for 2021, this was my last play for this year! Next year will be my five year anniversary of playing pickleball!

Number of days on a court: 448
Number of total hours: 2,176.5

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

Rainy Oops.

Monday, December 27, 2021 (Court Day #447)

It was a wet morning. I’d decided about a month ago to be closed today for an extended Christmas weekend. There was a fair amount of texting between me and Larry this morning and later I also texted Eric about playing if the sun stayed out. My son Nicholas and I had some errands to run while I waited. We made a stop at Best Buy for a 1TB external had drive for a new (refurbished) DVR that I ordered from the company last night. After my current one failed to record two football games that I’d planned to watch after the fact, it was time! (Super annoying when that happens!) We also picked up a mesh network to replace the two access points we have had in the house but haven’t been doing a good job handing off devices when moving around in the house . . . plus my wife has been complaining for a few weeks about the Peleton bike trainer losing its internet connection. Nicholas and I later got that set up with three access points in no time. Way better.

I also wanted to pick up a new pair of walking shoes so we stopped at Big 5 Sporting Goods down the street from Best Buy. Unfortunately they were out of the shoes in my size, but while there I checked to see how their pickleball selection was going. They had a Head paddle, a Gamma paddle, and three Onix paddles, along with a few Onix nets. The paddles were all between $65 and $85.

A trip to the local Big 5 Sporting Goods..

This prompted Nicholas to tell me about a demonstration where a PGA golf pro using cheap Walmart golf clubs beat an average playing using thousands of dollars of custom clubs. (Out of curiosity, I just looked and Walmart currently has a $150 set of clubs!)


I arrived at Derby around 1:30. Larry, Kim (not the Cabrillo instructor), Jules, and the fellow named Steve who’s been showing up at Derby recently were in a game. Eric showed up about 10-15 minutes later. After a while, we had three courts full. Janet appeared too, though I didn’t end up playing with her.

Juls and Kim taking on Larry Y. And Steve.

We played an assortment of games, rotating partners. It was more sunny than not, but when the sun went behind a cloud, it got cold.

When the rain drops got large and the chill penetrating, Eric and I came to the conclusion that it was time to call it a day at 4:30. When I was driving home minutes later, the sun popped out again. Nutty weather!

What did I learn?

Larry hit a crosscourt shot today and I hit a forehand drive return with topspin and the ball sank into my side of the net. 99 out of 100 times, that would have gone over. Larry’s spin on the ball caused my error. I was annoyed. Partly at him for making such a good shot (!), partly at me for not paying attention and recognizing the spin he was applying to the ball and adjusting appropriately.


It’s holding up. No noticeable changes. Chronic soreness with certain motions, But—that’s a big but—I count my blessings with that.

Number of days on a court: 447
Number of total hours: 2,173.5

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

Sacramento Visitors & Christmas

Sunday, December 19, 2021 (Court Day #446)

It was quite chilly this morning. 40 degrees. My wife dropped me off today at about 8:40—her car is in the shop for service so she wanted mine. It was overcast on top of chilly.

Tom and Meagan from Sacramento on the far side against Tom B. And Larry Y.

Things were hopping today, we had at least 40-45 people. Enough that I blew my whistle mid-morning and we did “play to 9, win by 1”.

There was a younger married couple, Tom and Meagan, visiting from Sacramento. Meagan’s parents live in Santa Cruz and so they are visiting for the holidays.

Tom was looking like a good player in the snippets that I caught from another court. I was hoping to get into a game with these two and it happened later on in the session.

Ouch. Spin Serve!

Tom is first player I’ve seen to fully execute this new spin serve and I can see why even really good players have trouble with them. He used it on me three times with success on two of them. One of my failed returns literally bounced off the edge of my paddle and soared 15-20 feet in the air flew over my partner to my right and landed in the court next to us. Crazy.

I asked Tom was his rating was and he said he didn’t know. I told him, “You are a 4.0.” Tom’s weakness was driving into the net or otherwise being impatient. But he has those killer spin serves, excellent ball control, powerful drives. When I asked if he played tennis or racquetball or squash, he said no. “Baseball.” Ok. Fantastic hand-eye coordination, regardless.

I was out at 2:10 p.m. to be picked up by my wife. Long session!

What did I learn?

I’m not a 4.0—at least, that’s how I felt today. I really need to put some serious time in developing a spin serve myself. Also, I need more exposure to spin serves to properly return them. It introduces a wildcard dynamic to the game. I don’t necessarily mind the challenge, but this is going to create a massive divide in the game . . . those who master serving and handling these spin serves and those who will get destroyed by these serves.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021 (No Play)

Normally, I’d play tonight, but the rain has come in. “No pickleball for 10 days,” my wife said after family dinner. It’s looking pretty grim, but we’ll see.

Saturday, December 25, 2021 (No Play)

Last night, Christmas Eve, at our family gathering at my parents, we had a Secret Santa gift exchange. My sister had pulled my name a few weeks ago, so—with some input from my son Nicholas—I was the recipient of a new “Pickleball” sweatshirt! Cool!

And my wife’s sister Liz bought her husband Steve and her pickleball paddles.

It seems their dog Lucky approves.

Sunday, December 26, 2021 (No Play)

I drove down to Sgt. Derby Park shortly after 8 a.m. to scope out the courts after heavy rain overnight. Yep. Very wet. The sun was out but with the temperature in the low 40s and that sun low in the sky, I wasn’t very hopeful. Hoping against hope, as they say.

Shortly after 8 a.m.

I texted Dave Allenbaugh to send out a “delayed until 10 a.m., bring towels” notice, which he did. I drove down a second time and checked out the courts at 9:25. Larry and his wife Jacquie and a couple I didn’t recognize—but seemed to know me—were there doing a limited dinking game. The courts were still too wet for me to guarantee a safe session at 10 a.m. so I texted Dave to send out a notice cancelling the club session. That’s the hardest aspect of my duties as a site coordinator. “Play or no play?” But I have to error on the side of caution. That’s tempered with my own very strong desire to get out and play.

Number of days on a court: 446
Number of total hours: 2,173.5

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