Misadventures of Andrew Lenz and a yellow ball

Month: May 2022 (Page 1 of 4)

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Friday, May 27, 2022 (Court Day #501)

Good news, my right heel, which have never been bothering me before but was bothering me last night, was perfectly fine this morning. It’s overcast today, and in the low 60s. Staffing was good, so I told my crew that I’d be in about 1 p.m. Considering I was at work on Wednesday for 10-11 hours, I figured I could take a morning off.

I got to Brommer Park a few minutes before 9 a.m., and there was a ton of parking. There were a number of games going already but some of the temporary nets had not been set up yet.

Mixed Time

I got into a number of games during the mixed skill time between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. and a couple were surprisingly good. One was with Leslie against Tom from Palo Alto and a fellow named Martijn—”Mar-tane”, he said it rhymes with “Mark Twain”. Martijn is a strong intermediate. I felt I played a little better than he did, but he’s a good player. In this game, I felt myself lapsing into the mindset that I was a weaker player. I stopped myself. “No. You belong here. You can handle anything they throw at you. You can. Play confident and focused.”

In that game, I added sidespin to one of my serves by brushing the side of the ball. Nothing new, I’ve been doing it for years. But Tom liked it enough that after that rally was over, he called to me, ”I have to learn that serve!”

The last game of that mixed period was me and Martijn against Dave Debiasi and Barb (who ran the Toys for Tots collection right before Christmas). Barb was obviously the weakest player. Martijn and I were ahead so I decided to hit more to Dave. My problem with this is that there were shots I’d never make in a game that I was actually worried about winning. Such as Barb being back and Dave at the net and me hitting the ball in Dave’s direction anyway. I hit a few of those too high and Dave simply put them away. It’s a good drill for me to have to change up from what are my natural strategic shots.

Skill Play: Blue

I played one blue intermediate game today, my first game after skill-level play started at 10 a.m.

Midmorning the back of my right hand was hurting. This was after a shot that Alan K. hit with a lot of spin and I swung and missed. (A clear miss is rare indeed! Maybe two or three times in five years!) Aside from being embarrassed, I strained something in the back of my hand. While it didn’t prove to be crippling, it did bother me a little bit for the rest of the session.

Skill Play: Red

I played a game with Tom from Palo Alto against Dave Debiasi and Kent. Tom and I won that game 11-5, though it had been close and back-and-forth initially.

I played red/advanced again—and did red for the rest of the session—with Rich against Charles and Leslie. It was a lopsided win for us, I was playing very well. While I made some mistakes today, they weren’t particularly common. I may not have even hit the ball into the white net tape once.

Once this morning, I was about to start a box in red. I stopped myself, turned to Charles and said, “You sign up first. I got in trouble once for doing that. I’ll add my name under yours.” I made a point of asking before adding my name to a red box, even if I’d already played with those players. I’m happy there was no hesitation and sometimes even an enthusiastic “yes”.

And?

There were no top echelon players at Brommer such as Dan Bliss, Dean, Chris Yoder, Tristan, and others. We did have Leslie, Charles, Dave Debiasi, Kent, Rob A., Binh, and Shante. I never got to play with Rob, Binh, and Shante, unfortunately. I would’ve loved to played with them.

And overall, I was extremely happy with my play today. All the red games that I played in there is no question that I belonged in those games. Aside from my pairing with Leslie for her warmup game, I’m trying to remember if I lost any other games today. Maybe one where I was playing with Karl (who was playing up) against Charles and a older fellow named Mike. That was a close game, but I don’t remember the outcome. I just remember being slightly frustrated at times with my partner’s shot. Maybe I lost two games all morning. Partners are a part of that too, of course. But if you are playing in the advanced crowd, you can be the weak link, but I never felt today that after a game was done.

I checked the time and it was 12:06 PM. Now to get home shower, eat lunch, and then get to work. If everything goes according to plan I’ll be playing again in two days on Sunday, and then again on Monday morning on Memorial Day.

I did hit maybe three or four of my serves out today. But for every serve that I hit out, there were two or three where my opponents were unable to return my serves back over the net. I did a pretty good job mixing up my serves: speed, angle, curve, depth, height. They were pretty effective.

On a side note, I have to say, it was fun seeing players that I hadn’t seen in some time.

As I left, some folks didn’t have to run off to get to work!

Work

When I arrived to work, I found a pickleball related cartoon next to one of the computer keyboards. Gary, one of my staff, had cut it out for me.

Now, in my life, the person being dragged out would be the female spouse, not me, the male spouse! My wife has no interest in playing pickleball despite my approximately annual suggestions!


Number of days on a court: 501
Number of total hours: 2,335

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

Spider Woman and #500

Thursday, May 26, 2022 (Court Day #500)

I arrived the Skypark at about 6:45 p.m. under cloudy skies and moderate temperatures—not overly warm, but not chilly either. Maybe slightly humid . . . though humid for Santa Cruz County is very mind compared to elsewhere in the country!

There were five courts with games already going, but there were three people waiting to play. One was Sam, who I asked about a game. I asked Mark Dettle if we could set up another net and he pointed and said that there was a bag already sitting on a court. Sure enough, the court right next to the gate.

Harry’s Back!

Harry, who hadn’t seen for quite a number of months, was there with a woman who I didn’t know. He introduced me to his friend, Leah. Sam, Harry, and I set up the temporary net making a total of six pickleball courts. Leah said she would just get in the way so she stayed off to the side and let us set up the net.

Leah turned out to be decent, getting all but the hardest shots from Sam or me back over the net, though Harry is the much better player. The game was a bit back-and-forth, with Sam apologizing to me a few times for errors. But Sam and I got things dialed in with us winning 11-5 or something in that ballpark.

I played a game with Kristin L. against Mark and young Asian David. David is very quick getting around the court and played well, outperforming Mark. We did win that game, but we had to come from behind and then we stretched out a lead.

Spider

Kristin showed a photo on her phone of a massive black widow spider in a web which she found tonight in the locked pickleball bin with all the nets and gear. That’s a bit unnerving! She said she saw one crawl out of one of the temporary net tubes here one time, but was able to step on that one…though she said she’d gone to show it to someone and when she got back, the spider was gone! Crawled away? Yipe! Resilient!

Games of the Night

The games of the night were Matt and Paul against me and Casey. In the first game, Casey and I lost by about a two to one margin. It was the same side of the same court where Matt and Paul beat Tim and me 11-0 in recent weeks. I felt I made an extraordinary number of errors in this game. When Casey and I switched sides and Matt and Paul went to the darker side, that’s when we performed better and went on to win the game in a fairly lopsided fashion. I made far fewer mistakes in the second game than the first.

Young Lucas

Matt had brought his son Lucas to the courts, since his wife (“Spring”, I learned) was out of town. Lucas spent nearly all the session playing video games on a portable gaming device with headphones covering his ears. (It helped him miss some swear words later!)

The last two games of the night started with Paul and me taking on Lucas and his dad. Then the second game was Matt and me taking on Paul and Lucas. Lucas, for being a slight nine-year-old, played pretty well. Sure, he made errors, but also made some pretty amazing shots. Some of them were so good they had me laughing in surprise!

We finished our game about 9:20. Then we talked for about 20 minutes. Paul’s wife’s name is Sara. Matt said that he and his son were going to Arizona to hotel with 17 pickleball courts and will have training sessions as well as a lot of Pickleball and they would be there for a week, with his wife and daughter joining them.

Recap

Tonight, I was not thrilled with how I played overall. I hit 9 shots into the white tape of the net. I do this far too many.

It turned out to be a fairly warm night. When I left at about a quarter to 10, it was still about 60°.

Heel Injury?

Midway through my first game with Casey, my right heel had some kind of pain going on with it. This is unique, and something that I’ve never experienced before. I was considering playing at Brommer tomorrow morning but the pain in my ankle is making me question that. We’ll see. I’ll also share that when you are tired and crawling into bed and get warm, one of the last things you want to do is strap a cold pack on your arm! But I know it helps.

500

Tonight was my 500th pickleball outing. And I completely forgot to mention it to anyone! I thinking playing with a 9-year-old was a fitting way to spend part of it.


Number of days on a court: 500
Number of total hours: 2,332

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

Janet Farewell Party

Tuesday, May 24, 2022 (Court Day #499)

I got the Skypark after work at 6:35 p.m. It was quite warm. The parking lot was completely full as were all the closest parking spots on the street leading up to the park. Busy! I had to park on the other side of the stop sign down the block and walk in.

I had to take my daughter Charlotte to San Jose Airport at 8:30 p.m. so I wanted to get in as much play as possible before that obligation cut my session short.

Only Half

But when I walked in the two tennis courts were full as well as the third tennis court which is dual striped for four pickleball courts. So we had four courts available, not eight. As a result there were about 10 pickleball players sitting along the fence and standing around waiting for the two tennis players to finish so temporary pickleball nets could be set up.

Pickleballers waiting along the fence and between courts.

Also tonight, Ann had arranged for a “party” honoring Janet who is retiring from teaching this month and is moving to Washington State next month. There were a variety of drinks, some cupcakes, some cookies, and someone had brought garlic bread as well. I later helped myself to half a large fancy cupcake that Tim half brought and cut in half.

John and Peggy and Erne

A group cleared a court and I got into my first game which was with Scott against John A. and his wife Peggy. (As soon as the two tennis players left, which was about 5 minutes into our game, temporary nets are immediately set up and those courts filled.) That was a fun game, Peggy is still a weak link, but she’s getting better with time. Walking off the court, John said to me, “You played really well in that game.”

John had shared between points that he had his first successful Erne shot recently. I gave him congratulations. I have yet to attempt an Erne shot. It’s not a opportunity I’m looking for in games. If your partner isn’t ready, attempting an Erne can leave a hole and give your opponents a winning shot. But, obviously, it’s a very cool shot. Maybe I should be attempting those. I have had three Ernes attempted against me in my years playing pickleball, all in tournaments. The first Erne was hit into my chest. The remaining two—one in the same game, the other in a different tournament—I saw the attempt coming and simply sent the ball elsewhere.

Antlers!

Ann had brought a bag of…I’m not sure what to call them. Costume springy hair bands? Regardless, you’d wear one on your head and it’d give you rabbit ears, antennas, pig ears, or in my case, green deer antlers. We also wrote positive adjectives about Janet on a pickleball for her and we all signed a big card, which was a piece of paper with a tracing of a paddle.

I had a game with Maya against Scott and barefoot Terry. The first game we lost by a significant margin, there is only so much I could do to carry our team. I made some nice shots, even with those antlers slipping off my head!

Looking over, I saw Paul pull off a nifty shot in his game on the adjacent court. To get to a drive, with his back to—and moving away from—the net, he swung his paddle down and back in the direction of the net and successfully dropped the ball back over the net. It was an amazing shot. Could he do it consistently? Bet he’d laugh and say no way, but it was a very nice shot!

Terry, Scott, Maya, and I rotated off the court but then when no one filled it we went back again for a second game, a rematch, and this time my team didn’t have the sun in our eyes. Maya played much better in this game and we actually were leading by a pretty good margin. Terry and Scott came back though and won the game. It had been looking very hopeful for us to win that one, but it was not to be.

Tim and I played game against John A. and Scott. (The antlers went back into the bag for this one!) There was a lot of back-and-forth and it was pretty challenging. Tim and I won that one but it was not lopsided by any stretch.

Game of the Night

The last and best game of the night, was Tim and myself taking on Paul and his friend Matt. Paul and Matt were playing very well. This was the first time when I looked at them and thought, “They could end up better than me.” They went ahead, then Tim and I went ahead, then Matt and Paul went ahead, then Tim and I went ahead and finally pulled off the win. 11-7 or 11-8. It was a fabulous, very challenging game. I wish there were more like that. As we walked off, Tim told me, “You played really well.” I shrugged it off. Did I feel I played well? Yes, but I made some dumb mistakes. Like slamming what would have been a winner into the white tape of the net. Tim replied knowingly, “Well enough!” When I told him that he had played well, he sagely replied, “Well enough.”

Oh, I should mention Paul’s ATP. From my right, Tim hit a dink crosscourt and the ball bounced in then out wide. Paul saw the opportunity. I saw the ATP coming and shifted getting ready for it. But Paul’s shot was outstanding. He slammed the ball hard and very low, literally hitting my left foot. Just excellent.

That last game would not have been possible except for my wife texted and said instead of 8:30, we could leave sometime between 8:45 and 9:00. The game with Matt and Paul took about 20 minutes. When I checked the time it was 8:51 and then my wife had texted asking where I was. I texted back that I was on my way and that was that. Charlotte is flying


Wednesday, May 25, 2022 (No Play)

The Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors voted to rename Willowbrook Park in Aptos after a sheriff shot and killed in the line of duty just about two years ago now, Damon Gutzwiller.

https://www.santacruzsentinel.com/2022/05/24/willowbrook-park-renamed-in-honor-of-sgt-damon-gutzwiller/

I didn’t know Damon personally, but he was a friend of an friend. I was told he’d be seen at mass at St. Joseph Church in Capitola with his wife Favi and their kids.

Sgt. Derby Park in Santa Cruz is also named after a local law enforcement member, Sgt. Charles Derby. He passed away of a heart attack in 1972 after nearly three decades as a police officer. He was reputed to be very supportive and friendly to youngsters, going out of his way to befriend at-risk youth.

My next pickleball outing will be my 500th. A milestone!


Number of days on a court: 499
Number of total hours: 2,329.5

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

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