Misadventures of Andrew Lenz and a yellow ball

Month: February 2022 (Page 1 of 4)

Shortened Sunday

Sunday, February 27, 2022 (Court Day #473)

My wife had arranged for a landscape designer to come and meet with us at 9 a.m. this morning. Fortunately, Tom Sherwood had agreed to open up Derby Park for me. My wife and I didn’t finish with the landscaper until about 10:45 a.m. When I arrived at Derby Park at 11 a.m., things were in full swing. There were enough players that Tom had decided to have the games play only to 9 instead of to 11.

Players waiting to play. The 6’7” one is Charles.

I got into a game fairly quickly with George, Tom B., and Charles. We ended up playing a few games together. After one game, George paid me a compliment, saying that I was very good at the net. George does give compliments, but only for things he truly believes. Nice to hear.

Ouch

I had a game with Eric against George and Charles. Fun game. We won, but in that game, I pulled that tendon/muscle in the back of my hand again. This is the fourth time. The first time was at work a few months ago, the three remaining times have been while playing. It’s not crippling, but it is painful. The good news is that it fades over time and didn’t bother me an hour later.

Oh, and in this game, Charles had a great shallow cross crosscourt toward my left. I had to run up and stretch to hit the ball—which I did. I was watching a pro match on YouTube and on a shot like that, the receiver returned the ball by dinking crosscourt. What did I do? Popped the ball up which George put away for a winner. Work yet to do!

Red?

There was a woman who signed up in red/advanced. I’ve played games with her a few times recently and knew she had no business as a red. The game was the woman, Rick, Allan K., and me. I told Allan, ”I’ll play with you.” Recognizing a possible imbalance, he asked “Will that be fair?” I responded, ”I don’t know if it’ll be fair.” Maybe Rick was playing lights-out. Or Allan was having a bad day. Or a meteor might kill me mid-game. The outcome was as I expected. 9-2. (With the number of people, play was to 9.) I overheard her talking to someone else afterward, ”It was a fiasco.” She signed up in blue for her next game. Lesson learned.

Still Games

I played games until 1:30 then took care of stowing up the club property. When Rick and I left at 1:45, there were 12 players still on the courts, something that was unheard of pre-pandemic. These players were four newbies and eight of the local Derby Girls roller derby team.

I was very happy to be back playing with my Rogue 2 paddle!


Number of days on a court: 473
Number of total hours: 2,251

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

Pickleball Grows!

Thurday, February 24, 2022 (Court Day #472)

USA Pickleball sent out their periodic newsletter this week and it included this tidbit:

I was actually surprised that are only about 55,000 paying members of the association. Out of nearly 5 million estimated players in the USA, only about 1% are members of the national organization.

Late Arrival

I had to finish a time-sensitive order to place for work and I didn’t get to Skypark until 7:30. I debated going home since it was quite cold, but that cold made parking extremely easy. There were less than 10 players there when I arrived.

Missing Paddle

When I went to grab my paddle from my backpack, I realized that it was not my Tempest Wave paddle that I noticed was missing on Tuesday, it was my main Players Rogue 2 paddle! Drat. It had either fallen out in my car or in my garage or I must have left it somehow at Brommer—in which case I hope it’s still there! I ended up using my ProKennex paddle instead.

I got in just one good game tonight. I had “Matt with the hat” with me against firefighter Matt S. and Tim. That was a good game. There were two overheads where they clipped the edge of my paddle and flew off wildly. If I had my regular paddle, which is slightly longer, I might have pulled off those shots.

I played a game with Josh against Eric and another Matt, shorter and stockier. These are all part of the clan of friends with tall Paul and Matt with the hat. Josh and I clobbered them, even with me playing lefty. Matt was obviously the weakest player. I opted to play with him for the next game. Eric and Josh kidded Matt, saying if he lost again, it’d be obvious who the weak link was. But he didn’t lose again. With me playing lefty, we won.

I opted to sit out a game. I checked the time. 9:10. I hung around, gauged the game scores and the time and opted to head home at 9:16 after saying my goodbyes.

When I got home, I emailed a few people asking if they’d seen my paddle at Brommer.


Friday, February 25, 2022 (No Play)

Leslie emailed back this morning saying my paddle was in the bin at Brommer. Thats a relief!

Mainstream?

Pickleball has been getting a lot of media exposure lately.

An NPR radio feature on the 15th:
https://www.npr.org/2022/02/15/1080773481/as-international-participation-grows-pickleball-could-end-up-in-the-olympics

The Guardian had an article on the 21st:
https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2022/feb/21/pickleball-the-oddly-named-sport-thats-sweeping-the-us

Gawker, a tongue-in-cheek article on the 22nd:
https://www.gawker.com/culture/who-is-behind-big-pickleball

The Times (UK) had an article on the 22nd, though a subscription is required to read it:
https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/pickleball-the-star-backed-sport-with-a-shot-at-the-olympics-wds5t720h

Paddle Collection

After work, I stopped by Brommer Park to collect my forgotten paddle. I’d never been there at night. It is very dark! Sure enough, my errant paddle was in a fabric bag of paddles in the locked bin. Fortunately, the key for SCPC site coordinators is universal and opens club bins at any location.

Whew! Back in my hand!

I put my last name on all my paddles once I got home!

New Different Paddle

Jordan Briones came out with a new video covering a new training paddle. Same length but a much smaller head so that you have to be very accurate with your paddle to ball contact. The idea is that you train yourself to hit the ball with the sweet spot of your regular paddle. While I haven’t tried it, it seems like a really good idea:
https://youtu.be/WWb3CS69nqs

Here’s a link to the Focus training paddle website:
https://focustrainingpaddles.com
It runs about $100. I’m thinking this could be great for when I’m playing weak players . . . it’d help level the playing field, so to speak.

Jordan also shared a link in the above video to his set of drills:
https://www.brionespickleball.com/brionesworkout


Number of days on a court: 472
Number of total hours: 2,248.5

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

Deflated

Monday, February 21, 2022 (Court Day #471)Presidents Day

My new shoes are hurting my big toes. I had another pair of court shoes (my wife had put them out in the garage at some point) with the permanent insoles worn through in the front and the back., though the tread on the bottoms is still in really good shape. I used those today instead.

My forearm is giving slight tennis elbow signals, but not enough to keep me from playing.

Brommer

I pulled into the lot at Brommer Park at 8:50 a.m. It was sunny, but it was a nippy 50°. Most players had layers to keep warm. I didn’t bother, sticking with just shorts and a T-shirt knowing I’d warm up soon enough. And I did. After a few games, I was fine.

As 10 a.m. rolled around, Leslie and “John” were signed up in a box in red. I added myself and a man named Ken rounded out the foursome. I’d met Ken and his Asian wife at Brommer last year sometime. I didn’t know this John, I’d never seen him before. About 5’10”, about 240 pounds, I guess. Ken and I took on Leslie and John. John did not play well at all, maybe a 3.0 level. Definitely not at a advanced/red level. Ken and I won 11-2 and the result was not all on Leslie by any stretch.

I felt I was playing well. I started a box in red. I’d never done that before. I knew there was always a possibility of someone not agreeing, but maybe not. Sometimes, you have to try.

Ken added himself to my box, along with someone else—whom I can’t remember over my 4 1/2 hours of games—and then Tom S. asked if he could join my box. I told him ok. In the game, there was such a violent volley rally that at the end of it, the players waiting behind the chain link fence all cheered. That was unexpected but fun. Too bad my reset dink hit the white tape to end that rally.

Put in my Place

I overheard Dan Bliss talking to Leslie about players signing up in as red when they aren’t. I poked into the conversation while passing by concurring, thinking about that lopsided game with John.

But then Dan Bliss came to me. “You can’t start a box in red. You are a blue. If you want to ask first, then you can add yourself to a red box.” Bummer. I knew I was borderline, but I figured I could generally pass as the bottom cusp of advanced. I told him, “I accept that.” And I do. I don’t want advanced players grumpy at me for not wanting to play with me and having to wait until my box is filled before starting their own. I’ve been in Dan’s shoes, having to be the “bad guy”. I was calm, respectful, and polite in my conversation with him. (And Dan has done a ton for the club and developing pickleball locally. Respect.)

I did ask Dan if he’d played with me lately . . . it was rhetorical, I knew he hadn’t. (There are rarely proper “cross skill level” games where skills can be properly evaluated.) He said he’d talked to players who had and also watched my play. I explained that blue is often not a challenge for me. He asked if I’d played with a man whose name meant nothing to me, but the point was obvious, that I couldn’t hold my own with that player. And Dan is undoubtedly right. Though I did counter with the argument that red isn’t just 5.0 players, there’s a range of 4.0 to 5.0.

A player, overhearing, visiting from out of town whom I’d played with recently, who had been playing in red this morning told me quietly, “I’d take you over some of these red players.” Nice to hear, but doesn’t do me any good.

Perhaps it was arrogant of me to sign up in red. I probably should just earn my stripes so there is no question come the day when I can start a box in red.

The morning went on. There were some blue boxes that I passed signing up in, waiting for a better game. Blue is far more of a “mess” than red is. It’s “skill creep”. Black (3.0 0 and down) signs up as blue (3.5), blue doesn’t want to play with them, so they want to sign up in red (4.0+).

Good Game

As the session started to wind down, I played in a game with Charles as my partner against Dave D. and Jason. I was really impressed with Charles’ play today. He has a very reliable slice return.

I was on the right side of the court at the net. A ball arrived in front of me diagonally from Jason. It wasn’t high enough to hit down upon. In that brief instant, I had a choice: drive at Dave W. across from me and hope he couldn’t handle it, or just dink the ball. I chose the smart play and dropped the ball over the net. Dave tried a crosscourt dink, but it failed ended up in the net. Talk about instant positive reinforcement for making a wise decision!

Charles and I were doing well, but I made a series of mistakes all in a row and gave the game away. I apologized to Charles.

Drilling

While we waited to get into a game, Jason asked if I wanted to drill. I agreed. He asked what I wanted to work on and I said backhand crosscourt dinks. And we did. Jason is pretty reliable with those shots. Me, it can be a weakness. Jason made some observations, such as bend my knees to get lower on the ball. Someone else had told me to bend my knees more in the past . . . Terry Long, maybe? I don’t recall. But obviously, something I need—kneed? kidding—to work on.

Last Game

The closing game of the day was John B. (he won a gold medal in 3.5 last year) and Rob A. versus Jason and myself. It was a challenging game with some very good rallies. We won 12-10. A surprise. Maybe they had a off game, maybe they were taking it easy, or maybe Jason and I played that well. That game ended shortly after 1:30 p.m.

Pro Lesson

Someone had invited a 5.0 player, “Preston”, to give private group lessons. I don’t know Preston, but I was told he’s a spikeball champion and takes pickleball lessons from Ben Johns. They were off in a corner, eight players at a time for a 90 minute lesson. John P. showed up shortly before 2 p.m. to get in on it. I didn’t receive an invitation to the lessons. While in the parking lot chatting with Rick A., Ted walked up. He’d been in on one of those groups. I asked, “Was it worth it?”
“Not really.”
“Oh?”
“It was too basic. I was grouped newer players.”
Too bad. I’ll have to ask John P. what he learned from his group lesson.

What did I learn today?

Humility? Patience? I need to drill.


Tuesday, February 22, 2022 (No Play)

Normally, I would play tonight. In fact, I’d packed my things to head to Scotts Valley right from work. But a few things. We had a late customer at work. I was fighting a mild headache. My right forearm was very faintly complaining. My mother-in-law had flown in today and there was a little unspoken pressure to be home—like a text from my wife: “you are going to pickleball?” It was also pretty cold . . . at least for us, especially since we had summer-like temperatures a few days ago. Around 6 p.m., the weather app on my phone was saying it ”feels like” 10 degrees above freezing and it was only going to get colder. This was from the paper today:

Missing Paddle

I noticed that I had only two paddles in my backpack instead of the normal three. Where did I put my Tempest Wave paddle? I loaned it to John at Skypark a week ago, but I’m sure I got it back . . . I think. Doubt was creeping in. Did someone steal it from my backpack at Brommer when I wasn’t looking?

Drilling

I talked to Eric and he said after the time change and there is light in the evening, he’d be happy to drill with me. We live less than a mile from each other and Derby Park is probably another mile or so, so it’d be convenient.


Wednesday, February 23, 2022 (No Play)

I found a new Facebook group that appeals greatly to my nerdy side:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/propickleballstats/

From Jim Ramsey:

***STATS BREAKDOWN***
National Championships, Indian Wells California, December 2021.
Women’s Doubles Final: Anna Leigh Waters and Leigh Waters defeated Lea Jansen and Irina Tereschenko, 11-2, 11-2, 11-5.

RALLIES:
82 rallies.
696 shots.
8.5 shots per rally.
55/82 rallies were 9 shots or less. (67%)
27/82 rallies were 10 shots or more. (3%)
Shortest: 1 shot (2), 2 shots (3), 3 shots (13), 4 shots (12). (24% of the rallies were four shots or fewer.)
Longest: 50, 36, 32, 18, 18, 18, 17.

THIRD SHOTS:
A.L. Waters: 3 drops, 14 drives. (17% drops)
L. Waters: 9 drops, 19 drives. (32% drops)
Waters/Waters: 12 drops, 33 drives. (26% drops)
Jansen: 11 drops, 5 drives. (68% drops)
Tereschenko: 10 drops, 4 drives (71% drops)
Jansen/Tereschenko: 21 drops, 9 drives. (70% drops)
Third Shot Totals: 33 drops, 42 drives (44% drops)

SPEED-UPS:
I counted the instances when a regular dinking rally was accelerated, and the ensuing hand-battle led directly to the end of the rally, or the first speed-up was a winner or hit out. (therefore, not including speedups that were eventually re-set during the same rally.) Here are those “starts”, and the ensuing result for that team.
A.L. Waters: initiated and won 2, initiated and lost 1.
L. Waters: initiated and won 6, initiated and lost 2.
Waters/Waters: initiated and won 8, initiated and lost 3. (72% success)
Jansen: initiated and won 4, initiated and lost 3.
Tereschenko: initiated and won 1, initiated and lost 2.
Jansen/Tereschenko: initiated and won 5, initiated and lost 5. (50% success rate)
Speed-up Totals: In the instances I counted, the team that initiated the speed-up won 13 and lost 8, for a 61% success rate.

DINKS INTO THE NET: (Unstressed, “regular” dinks. Not speed-ups, blocks, etc.).
A.L. Waters: 0.
L. Waters: 0.
Jansen: 1.
Tereschenko: 2.
Totals: 3 of 82 rallies ended with a dink into the net. (3%)

CLEAN WINNERS: (No net-cord, no opponent’s paddle).
A.L. Waters: 5.
L. Waters: 2.
Jansen: 3.
Tereschenko: 1.
(13% of the rallies ended with a clean winner)

OFFENSIVE LOBS: none.

HIDDEN STAT OF THE MATCH:
Three times Lea Jansen did not keep a service return in play. Nine times the Waters team hit a third shot drive, and the Jansen/Tereschenko team volleyed it into the net (ending the rally at four shots). Those “two and fours” accounted for 12 of the 33 points for the Waters team.
These stats were taken from an ESPNU broadcast (screenshot included). There were a few rallies what were not shown in their entirety, because the “on air” was on a replay rather than live action. I did the best I could in those situations, and taking notes as a whole.Take from this what you see fit. I offer this without conclusions or bias. I hope it helps provide more context to the sport we all enjoy so much. I will provide similar breakdowns for other matches soon. Jim.
(entered Feb 17, 2022)

App

Also posted to that FB group, there’s a python app of some kind written by Alex Spancake that allows for entry of game stats:
https://github.com/aspancake/pickle-data-entry-ui


Number of days on a court: 471
Number of total hours: 2,247

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

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