Adventures of Andrew Lenz and a Yellow Ball

Month: July 2022 (Page 1 of 7)

Position, position, position.

Sunday, July 31, 2022 (Court Day #526)

I arrived at Derby Park about 8:45 a.m., and there were two courts with two people warming up or drilling.

This entry will be short and sweet.

Today was a lesson in positioning. Matt Smith took full advantage with 2-3 passing shots where I was too close to the middle and he simply drove the ball down the sideline out of my reach for a winner. There were other shots where I was too far to the left from my partner to my right and a ball was driven from in front of my partner between us for a winner.

I’m usually pretty good about covering the middle. But leaving the right sideline open is a chronic issue for me to fix.

We finished up at 1:10 p.m.

Bill Gates

Bill Gates, of Microsoft fame, posted a short video on Instagram saying had started playing pickleball 50 years ago and now ”it’s all the rage.” He said his family plays the game and are surprised if someone beats them.

The link the Instagram video is here:


And a telling comic…

Number of days on a court: 526
Number of total hours: 2,416

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Friday, July 29, 2022 (Court Day #525)

When I left my house on the westside of Santa Cruz, it was very sunny. When I got to Brommer Park a few minutes after 9 a.m., it was foggy though the sun had been breaking through in spots on my way over. My back was pretty tight from the extended pickleball time yesterday, between the intermediate workshop put on by the club and my regular Thursday night outing at Skypark.

Today was a mixed bag of play. Some games I felt that I was making a lot of errors, and other ones I felt that I was playing quite well. There was a game against John P. and Wai with a man name Paul as my partner. It was a pretty decent game, although I made a lot of mistakes. I had a series against pretty decent competition today.

Later I was playing with Joe C. as my partner (he’s an intermediate who signs up as advanced) against Rick and his friend René. Rick and René are, of course, good players. But I played quite well in that game making up for Joe’s inadequacies to the point where Joe and I were actually leading at one point. But we couldn’t wrap it up, losing 12-10. I was done at 12:10 p.m. and I headed home to shower and eat lunch, then onto work.

Number of days on a court: 525
Number of total hours: 2,412

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Workshop for Intermediates then Skypark

Thursday, July 28, 2022 (Court Day #524)

I was at work when an alert went off on my phone. It was reminding me that today was the day of the SCPC intermediate pickleball clinic at Derby Park at 4 o’clock. I had completely forgotten about it. It’s been a busy week with one of my staff changing her time off from last week to this week, plus also having one of my staff out this week having tested positive for COVID.

At Derby

I scrambled a little bit and got to Derby Park a few minutes after 4 p.m. There were ten students already present and three instructors. The instructors were Walker, Steve Bachman, and Patty D. Patty and I are not too far apart as far as skill level goes.

As it turned out I was very clearly, far and away, the best skill level of the students with most of the others about 2.5 level players. I didn’t feel that I really learned anything, but it is always good to drill.

We went through some dink drills, followed by some drop shot drills, and then some serve and return drills. And that used up to 90 minutes. During dinking, Steve rotated over and dinked with me with no misses by either of us, maybe 20-30 shots, then he said he was going to move to another player (who actually needed that skill work).


After the session when I was talking to Walker, he said that he has never played in a tournament, but someone with experience I told him he should sign up as a 4.5 player. Walker has a very strong tennis background, I’m very curious to see how he does as a 4.5. Walker is definitely under 50 years old, so he won’t have the advantage of some to get easier games do you do in an older age bracket—say, like those playing in 60+.

One-on-one Drilling

I talked with the three instructors a little bit after the session, then Patty asked if I wanted to drill with her since her private student was not expected until 6 p.m. I readily agreed. We did some straight ahead drop shot drills then we did some crosscourt drop shot drills which I’ve never done before. Those are good ones. I was hitting my drop shots pretty well, which is encouraging. About 6:05, Patty’s student Beth arrived. Patty and I drilled for a few more minutes while Beth was changing shoes then, without being asked, I stepped off the court to make way.

And when we were drilling, Patty pointed out something that I’ve heard many times before—that I need to bend my knees and “drop my butt”, instead of dropping my paddle way down with my arm extended, get into a more athletic position. There’s a video that Mark Renneson put out years ago talking about pros looking athletic at the net . . . “looking athletic at the net” means getting low with a wide stance. Patty was saying I stand with my feet too close together. I’ve never heard that before. Maybe that’s only in drills—however, it might be in games too. Something for me to watch for when I record a game in the future.

Heading out from the workshop and drilling…

Stop at Work

I had to head back to work since there is an advertising deadline that was due a day early this month for some reason. Fortunately won’t take very long, and then I was on my way to Scotts Valley to play.


I got to Skypark just about 7 p.m. There were games going on the four permanent courts and four temporary nets were also set up with additional four games going, filling all possible courts. And, a little bit of a twist, one of the four temporary nets was a very odd-looking one that I’ve never seen before. A group of Asian youth had brought it. I think it was part of an inexpensive hobby set that probably included balls, paddles, and that rudimentary net. They stayed on that court with their own net until they decide to leave probably about a hour later. Not quite the protocol for all of us follow at Skypark—we generally rotate off of courts when we’re done allowing other players that are waiting to get into a game.

Strong Games

The fun games of the night were Tim and myself playing against Nate and Matt Smith. In the first game, they went ahead quite a bit but then we came back only to lose by a few points in the end. In the rematch of that game, Tim and I were down 0-7, but then Tim and I clawed our way back into the game. Later we were leading 12-11 and then they were leading 13-12 and then it was 14-14 and then finally they won 16-14. That was a very very fun game.

It’s good for me to play against Matt Smith because he has a tendency to drive balls very, very hard often. Occasionally, he will win the rally outright with a very hard drive with a return ball either landing in the net or landing outside the court. Last two games of the night were Tim and myself against Matt and his friend Paul. Tim and I won both games, though the second game was closer than I was expecting as Tim and I were both dragging. I probably would’ve gone home after the first game but Tim was willing to play that second and last game, so I stayed. We finished up the last game 9:21 PM. It was time to go home.

After the workshop, I was feeling pretty cocky and sure of myself. But after I was in that game at Skypark with Tim and Nate and Matt Smith then later with Paul and his friend Matt, it’s “back down to earth”. And it’s after sessions like that, that I wonder just how far away I am from being at 4.0 player. Further than I want. I think I need to start recording some games again and doing some analysis to figure out exactly which shots I’m missing and which ones need the most work.

Number of days on a court: 524
Number of total hours: 2,409

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

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