Adventures of Andrew Lenz and a Yellow Ball

Month: April 2022 (Page 1 of 3)

Andrew and Matt S. Redemption

Tuesday, April 28, 2022 (Court Day #489)

I arrived at Skypark after work at about 6:45 p.m. The courts were busy. The first court I ran into had Paul W. on it as well as his young redheaded daughter, Mallory. By the looks of things, Paul’s daughter is about eight years old. And she was doing a decent job of getting the ball back over the temporary net although occasionally the ball would end up sailing into the court nearby. I hit the ball back-and-forth with them for a few minutes—though she was hitting more to her dad next to me, a foreshadowing—and then I managed to get into a game on the adjacent court. 

First Game

I played with David from Aptos as my partner, the one whom we have common friends, against Wendy and Weezy. Before the game started, the two ladies consulted at the baseline for about 15 or 20 seconds. David and I were wondering what they’re talking about. It didn’t take too long for me to figure out what their strategy was. This was the first game I’ve ever played where my opponents very, very clearly avoided hitting the ball to me at all. The ball was just not coming to me. I was watching it go to David over and over. I think I may have touched the ball a total of 10-15 times the entire game—plus my serves. As it was, we still won the game 11-0. 

Harder Games

Once that game ended I looked across the courts and saw that a game between Casey and his dad Tim against firefighter Matt and Glenn had just ended. Hoping, I trotted across the courts and Glenn was ready to step out anyway, which he did.

Matt and I went on to play four games against Casey and his dad Tim. The first game was decisively lopsided with our side scoring only a few points. But I have to say, these are the games that I love. All the players are stronger players, plus I’m playing against the strongest players on the court (aside from myself). Each game that Matt and I played against Casey and Tim, we improved the score ratio. By the time the fourth game rolled around, it was getting dark. This pickleball game was also rather lopsided—but this time it was lopsided in the favor of Matt and myself. This was quite a surprise . . . and I just happened to record this one. Since Tim was playing copyrighted music, this video has to be watched on the YouTube website (versus embedded here). The wind blows the camera wonky in the beginning but don’t freak out, it happens only a few times during the game, so you won’t get too seasick!

Wind Down Games

I went on to play with fellow named Daniel against Aaron (both part of the Matt and Paul clan) and a young fellow named Mike. I was tired, cold, and not as focused . . . the skill level of my companions in this game was a step down. It was also getting windy enough to push the ball around the court for some shots. Im glad there was no video for these games! We finished our third game and checked the time: 9:29 p.m. Sure enough, the lights clicked off shortly thereafter.

Saturday, April 30, 2022 (No Play)

With my Players brand paddle on its way to its spawning grounds for repair, I’ve been playing with my ProKennex paddle. This morning, I woke up with pain at my elbow—my outer elbow. That’s tennis elbow. I’ve been battling minor “golfer’s elbow” on the inside of my elbow for months. But this level of pain—while still relatively mild—is new. Perhaps this is serving as a good test to compare the success/failure of each paddle dealing with tennis elbow. I’ll be playing at least another few outings with the ProKennex.

I went ahead and looked up the FedEx Ground tracking for my paddle and it says it was delivered yesterday to Players Pickleball in Bellingham, Washington. We’ll see how quickly it gets turned around.

Number of days on a court: 489
Number of total hours: 2,300

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

The Yreka Connection

Tuesday, April 26, 2022 (Court Day #488)

I took my Rogue 2 paddle to work with the intention of shipping it out to get the edging strip repaired.

I was able to get my brother to close at work so I was a Skypark a few minutes after 6 PM. A car left right before I arrived and I slid my car into that open parking spot, refilling the lot.

There were no tennis players as I walked in, but five courts were in use for pickleball.

I realized that I’d left my Rogue 2 paddle in my office at work. Drat. My older ProKennex paddle would have to do instead.

Lighter crowd, but it got busier.


My first game of the night I was partnered with Scott against firefighter Matt, and Casey’s dad Tim. A more challenging game. Scott and I lost the game in definitive fashion. We switched sides and played again with the same teams with the same lopsided results. When we play the third game at my insistence, we also lost that game as well. Video of that last game:

I played a fairly clean game making only five errors most during most of it . . . though I made three in the final few minutes, including the losing point! I’m including the error as mine where Scott and I went for the same ball in the middle and I hit it into the net—Scott should have left that one for my forehand—but nonetheless, I hit it into the net.


We played another game, changing it up so it was Matt and me against Scott and Tim. This time around, I was on the winning side. Video:

My errors, in chronological order:

  • Hit a ball high, but Scott slammed it into the net. (Dodged a bullet.)
  • Low backhand drive into the net.
  • Took a forehand that should have gone to Matt and popped it up as an easy winner for Tim.
  • Hit a high ball into the net. (I should have dropped the shot.)
  • Returned Scott’s drop shot too deep past the baseline.
  • Returned an easy serve into the net.

Compared to my compatriots, I played a fairly clean game. But am I happy with it? No. I missed some easy shots.

Taking it Easy

I played a game with Carolyn, firefighter Matt’s wife, against Sharyl and Scott. Carolyn and I won the game although it was very close. I was kind of surprised. Carolyn played better than I was expecting . . . and after the game she said she was disappointed with how she played.

Tougher Games

Paul’s friend Aaron arrived and Aaron and I ended up in a game against TK and his friend David. TK has a killer fast—if not 100% reliable—serve. We lost the first game but won a second. (Aaron has only been playing four months, but is really starting to come along.)

TK got me on two “low to the backhand” serves. Low backhands still continue to be an issue after my shoulder surgery. I need to do the exercises that Casey recommended for that more often. It’s easy to forget.

Next up, TK asked his friend Chandler—she said she played with her husband at Brommer recently—to play against Aaron and me, that we were “pretty good”. Aaron and I won that one. David is farther along than Chandler, but Chandler is reasonably solid. I’d never met either of them before.

The lights clicked off at 9:30 p.m., a few minutes after our game ended and it was time to head out.


Chandler is from southern Oregon but has lots of family up in Yreka—near where my grandparents lived—less than an hour from the Oregon border. She figured that her grandfather was in my dad’s graduating class at Yreka High School in 1960. Small world!


What I haven’t been mentioning is my shoulder continues to be sore. I’m about 18 months now past rotator cuff surgery, but it’s still worse off than before surgery. My PT Casey said that it can take up to two years of healing, so I’m still hopeful.

Wednesday, April 27, 2022 (No Play)

I finally got my paddle shipped off to Players. Hopefully, I’ll get it back before my trip out of town that’s coming up.

Our stalwart FedEx Ground driver Isiahas taking my paddle box.

My right forearm is sorer than normal. As a matter of fact, typing hurts a bit. Not a ton, but slightly uncomfortable. Maybe that’s me using my ProKennex paddle instead of the Rogue 2. Time will indicate…

Number of days on a court: 488
Number of total hours: 2,297

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

Yet More Sunday Newbies

Sunday, April 24, 2022 (Court Day #487)

This week, Leslie, the Santa Cruz pickleball club venue coordinator, texted Rick A. and myself, the two Derby Park site coordinators, and told us that the grouchy neighbor with the questionable driveway had contacted the City of Santa Cruz—and maybe the police—again about someone parking in front of his driveway. He came over to the courts a few months ago and yelled a lot until a woman moved her car. The problem is that his driveway is very much overgrown, is not fully paved, and is partially blocked by a couch as well as piles of leaves and other obstructions. It makes it difficult to tell it’s a real driveway. Given the sidewalk cut out for the driveway, I would never personally park there, but I can also see where someone who is desperate for a parking spot might consider it fair game. The signs that I had made and now regularly hang up next to the court reservation board warning people to not to park in front of his house seem to not be having as much positive affect as I had hoped. The funny thing is, this neighbor often illegally parks his truck perpendicularly to the sidewalk instead of parallel. A little of calling the kettle black, as they say.

Beautiful Day

I’ve never been a morning person, and that manifested itself today as I was at Derby Park only five minutes before opening time of 9 a.m. (I try to get there at least 10-15 minutes early.) Two people were already there—long-time player Maria and another person whom I can’t remember. I got about to blowing off the courts and all the other opening duties, but fortunately I had other people helping set up all the nets and I didn’t even have to set up even one, which was fantastic. I think that’s a first!

Today turned out to be an absolutely gorgeous day. The temperature was wonderful and it was sunny and not breezy which it sometimes gets to be by early afternoon.

I was in a number of fairly uneventful games of mixed skill level where I was obviously the strongest player of each game.

There was a player there who is visiting, I can’t remember his name, but we played in a game or two together. Shortly thereafter he wisely asked me what skill level he should sign up in and I told him “intermediate”. Surprisingly, and unfortunately, players rarely ask me for my opinion as to where they should sign up.

When 10 o’clock rolled around, and it was time for skilled play, I ended up in a game of myself and Ted B. against Ms. J (she requested a while back to not be specifically named) and Sandra. I played very well in that game, and we won 11-2 or maybe was 11-4, but regardless it was a pretty lopsided game.

New Players Again

We had a number brand-new players today and Eric S. was kind enough to take on a group of four himself and let me play some stronger games.

Midmorning, Ray stopped me and said, “You are an ambassador…” (meaning my role for USA Pickleball) “…how long have you been one?” I told him a few months. “You are perfect for that.” A nice compliment! Ray told me he’s on the grant committee for USA Pickleball and once he’d taken on more duties like that, he couldn’t be ambassador too so he’d stepped down as the local one, leaving only Karen Long at the time.

Rick, Rick, René

There are three games where Rick A. and I played against Rick and his girlfriend René. They were fairly close and fun games. I noticed in one game that very few balls are getting hit to me. It was shot to Rick A. Shot to Rick A. Shot to Rick A. Shot to Rick A. Though I did get some balls hit me now and then but it was obvious that they felt Rick was the weaker of the two of us and they wanted to win.

The last game of the day was Eric S. and me playing against Rick and his girlfriend René. That was a fun game. Eric and I went up something like 8-2, but then Rick and René started to come back. I know that Renee and I were both dead on our feet by that point—it had been four hours of playing time!

It was 1:15 when play was done and it was time to go home. Charles kindly helped take down nets so that when I was done a bit later, there was less to do.

Tennis Elbow

My tennis elbow is flaring up a little bit, with the outside of my elbow as well as my inside, and also a little bit of my forearm bothering me in a slightly noticeable fashion. However, it’s far from significant. I hope it stays that way.

Paddle Woes

My Players Rogue 2 paddle has its edging getting loose. A bit of it broke off along one side fairly recently. I really need to send it in and take them up on their offer to have it re-done then sent back to me for free. The paddle has occasionally been making some strange sounds on certain hits. With the edge loose it can create a little bit of an abnormal dampening effect. My hesitation is that I simply do not want to be without my paddle! Maybe I should buy a second one, my understanding is Players came out with a newer model of the paddle.

Number of days on a court: 487
Number of total hours: 2,293.5

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

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