Sunday, January 30, 2022 (Court Day #462)
Yesterday was my five year anniversary of starting pickleball. January 29, 2017 – January 29, 2022. I guess it stuck!
A man named Douglas from Campbell—about 30 minutes north—emailed the club asking about play at Derby since he could arrive no earlier than 11:30. This message got forwarded to me from Mark, the president, and I wrote back to Douglas giving him the scoop.
It was sunny but in the low 40s when I arrived to a deserted Derby Park. The players who would beat me there lately were nowhere to be seen. Today is a regional tournament weekend and the crowd was lighter, as I expected, topping out about 30 people. The next person to arrive was a man named Don—I’m guessing mid-40s—who lives in Los Gatos but inherited a beach house in Santa Cruz from his late parents. This was his first visit to Derby. He said he played at Brommer on a club day and it was so well-organized and everyone was so welcoming compared to San Jose, that he figured that he’d continue to play in Santa Cruz as a regular thing.
My first game was with Don against big-mustache Steve and a woman named Susan I’d never played with. Don and I won that game handily. Susan appears to be a 2.5 level player. No one was waiting, so we decided to play a second game. I told Susan, “I’ll play with you.” With that, Susan’s luck changed and we went ahead 7-0 or thereabouts. Eventually, she made a few mistakes and they scored some points, but we still won a lopsided game. I’d put Don as a middle of the road 3.0 and Steve as a high 3.0.
I had a deja vu moment playing with Mike K.—a.k.a. Grumpy Mike—deja vu of five years ago in my first few months of playing. I drove the ball at Glenn as Mike was running up to the net and the ball got slammed by Glenn at Mike’s feet. He growled, “Good thing I was running up.” (Sarcasm.) I made a bad strategic decision.
Between games, Jason—with a big grin—pointed to my right shin, “Am I responsible for that?” I held out my leg and looked, sure enough, there was a red welt. Ted had popped up the ball and Jason took full advantage—just as I would have myself! My leg had taken the brunt of that shot.
During a game, Jason turned to me, “You shouldn’t be able to hit that—that was below the net!” I was on the right a ball had bounced just high enough to my right that I could lift and apply topspin and drive it between my opponents for a winner. Was it below the net? Maybe.
Jason had a fabulous backhand ATP around the left post against retired firefighter Matt S. “I thought you’d made a mistake!”, exclaimed the surprised Matt. Matt doesn’t see too many ATPs, I guess!
Herd of Newbies
Wandering in between noon and 1 p.m., a group of about a dozen beginners showed up where someone was teaching them to play. I didn’t know anything about it and it wasn’t club sponsored. Club play officially ends at noon, but we generally stick around an extra hour.
Douglas from Campbell never did show up. Too bad.
My right arm is holding up pretty well. The inside of my elbow was mildly painful when driving to Derby, but very mild and only at certain times.
I asked online and was provided with a link to the video of Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps and NFL star Larry Fitzgerald playing pickleball as part of a PPA event in Arizona, the 2022 Carvana Desert Ridge Open.
It’s quickly obvious to anyone who plays pickleball even somewhat regularly that the pros are merely keeping ball in play—avoiding on winning shots—and just waiting for Larry or Michael to make mistakes. Larry is decent and almost certainly had prior experience. Michael was horrid and may have never even played pickleball before. It’s entertaining like watching a train wreck. If the players weren’t famous, no one would have watched it.
Number of days on a court: 462
Number of total hours: 2,219.5
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