Adventures of Andrew Lenz and a Yellow Ball

Month: September 2022 (Page 1 of 6)

High School Connection

Thursday, September 29, 2022 (Court Day #555)

Yesterday, I mentioned NBA basketball player LeBron James buying a Major League Pickleball team. Today, I had two non-player co-workers mention it to me since they had seen it in the news. It’s crazy how much publicity pickleball is getting.

Skypark

I got the Skypark at about 6:50 p.m., and parked back alongside the courts since the paved parking lot was full. All the nets were set up and in use. It was a busy night.

Paul W. and Matt B. taking on Casey F. and his dad Tim F.

Tonight, it was the mix of mostly medium skill games. There weren’t really any games are truly challenging.

There was a man named Tim who was there—not Casey’s dad Tim—but a man who plays tennis primarily in the evenings and then moves over and plays pickleball after the tennis players leave. He and I played against Paul and his friend Matt and beat them tonight. Matt was not playing as best, but I was playing decently. Tim and I beat them by by fairly significant margin. Tim said it was his first time beating them and that I had played well.

So, Tim graduated from San Lorenzo Valley High School two years before I graduated from Harbor High School. Tim said he later went and coached Harbor’s tennis team for a period of time.

Top Tennis -> Entry Level Pickleball

There was a young fellow, Kourosh, was playing tennis who knew Tim and played tennis with him tonight. Tim said Kourosh was the #1 tennis player in the SCCAL (Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League) while at Aptos High School five years ago. I played with Kourosh as my partner against Paul and Matt. It was Kourosh’s second-ever pickleball game. Kourosh kept trying to topspin drive the ball and it kept ending up in the net. But Kourosh had crazy good angled shots and could cover a lot of the court…sometimes too much as he’d cross over to my side and poach a shot and mess it up. Still, he played well enough that we won. Afterward, Matt said he wasn’t feeling that good and stopped playing for the night. That explained his subpar performance.

Wrist Pain

While in a game with Minori against David and Sharyl’s son Kevin (whom I met tonight for the first time) I experienced noticeable pain on the inside of my right wrist on a backhand shot. This past week I’ve been noticing pain on the inside of my wrist while playing my practice chanter (a practice instrument for playing bagpipes). This is worrisome. The lights clicked off at 9:30 in the midst of this game.

Blast from the Past

A bunch of us were still there and hung out and shared snacks for a good 45 minutes.

By far, the most memorable event of the evening was finding out that one of the pickleball players there tonight, Rachel, was in my graduating class at Harbor High School. She’s said she’s been playing pickleball for about three months. She comes from a very strong tennis background; she was the #1 tennis player on the tennis team back in high school, and continues to play even now. That’s pretty impressive.

Me and Rachel. She asked for a photo and I got a copy.

We chatted about classmates and teachers and caught up a bit. It was a fun surprise!

Number of days on a court: 555
Number of total hours: 2,504

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

Drilling with René on Wednesday

Wednesday, September 28, 2022 (Court Day #554)

René and I had arranged to drill this morning and she was dropped off five minutes from my house where I picked her up at 7:45 a.m. From there, we headed straight to Derby Park and when we arrived there were six women playing. As soon as we walked up, two of the women ran across the courts and claimed the second—and only remaining functional—city net. I guess they didn’t want it until we wanted it! Fortunately, today was a club day and, of course, I have keys to the storage bin so I opened it up and set up one of the club nets early. (Even though I’m a site coordinator for the SCPC, I can’t use club equipment willy-nilly on random days/times whenever I feel like it. But setting up an net a little earlier than required is in the “fudge room” in my book.)

Drilling

René and I did some sliding dink drills passing each other in opposite directions on each side of the net at the kitchen line. We also did the drill Terry Long taught at a clinic few years ago that Eric and I have done over the years . . . that’s the one where a player starts the baseline and other is at the kitchen and the kitchen player serves cooperatively to the person at the baseline and person at the baseline needs to work up to the kitchen while the person at the kitchen tries to keep the other person back. (Clear as mud?) We did these drills for about 45 minutes.

René had only got about five and half hours sleep and I was up earlier than normal with a little less sleep as well. After playing last night too, I was just tired today. Half an hour into those drills, René was asking what time it was, thinking it was close to the 9 a.m. opening time. Nope, that was only 30 minutes!

René and I had a number of games over the session. Nearly all were challenging.

We played against Jackie and Eric and got clobbered. We were just not playing well.

We played against her friend Rick and Mark G. on two occasions in the morning and won both.

Later on, during one game, René reached out to hit a passing shot along the right sideline and strained her shoulder. She said she had done this somewhat recently before. She sat out the rest of the session’s games—probably about 45 minutes.

We were done and out shortly after noon.

I was disappointed with my play and our play as a team. But I know we were both exhausted. Plus I’ve been on antibiotics since last week when I had a tooth pulled. (Fortunately, that ends tomorrow!)

Silver Lining?

On the bright side, on the day, I remember missing only one of my serves but at least half a dozen of my opponents’ returns never made it back over the net. René complimented me on my serving today.

Oh, and today I passed 2,500 hours of time at the courts. Milestone.

In the News

LeBron James as part of Team USA in 2012.

Famous NBA basketball player LeBron James is part of an ownership group that now owns a Major League Pickleball team.

CNBC:
https://www.cnbc.com/2022/09/28/lebron-james-is-a-pickleball-fan-and-player-now-hes-buying-a-team.html

The Athletic:
https://theathletic.com/3637983/2022/09/28/pickleball-rules-scoring-lebron-james/

ESPN:
https://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/34682831/los-angeles-lakers-star-lebron-james-headlining-new-ownership-group-major-league-pickleball

Yahoo!Sports:
https://sports.yahoo.com/le-bron-james-draymond-green-and-kevin-love-part-of-group-buying-a-professional-pickleball-team-175830748.html

NPR:
https://www.npr.org/2022/09/29/1125859989/lebron-james-pickleball

This goes on. ABC News, New York Post, Huffington Post, Washington Post, Fortune, Wall Street Journal. It’s all over the place.

Number of days on a court: 554
Number of total hours: 2,501.5

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

Fighting with Kids in the News

Tuesday, September 27, 2022 (Court Day #553)

There was an article in the New York Post yesterday about pickleball players “battling” kids for playing area in New York City:
https://nypost.com/2022/09/26/parents-go-to-war-with-pickleball-players-over-nyc-parks/

Big cities have to be about the worst place to try and find courts with the land being so expensive.

Skypark

I told René that I would be playing at Skypark on Tuesday night, and—with the tournament together coming up on Sunday—she drove over from San Jose area to play as my partner for the evening. When I arrived at 7 p.m., she was finishing up her first game.

Some evening players.

We played a couple of games against weaker players and the result of those two games were never in doubt. They were lopsided.

Tim and Matt S.

We went on to play a game against Tim F. and Matt Smith. Tim, of course, loves to lob. Matt Smith on the other hand, likes to drive shots very hard. Often, if you can get out of the way, his drives will go out.

Between the difficulty of playing under lights, and Matt and Tim seeming to target René, René started to get a little bit annoyed. She and I were not playing our best in that game and Tim and Matt are taking quite a lead. When the game ended René wanted to play against someone else.

Mark and David

Our next game was with Mark G. and the older Asian fellow David. David is a very good player and has wicked drives that easily equal those of Matt Smith. He also has good control and can also angle the ball well. He’s quite the formidable opponent. René and I got clobbered in that game. And when that game was done, René did not want to rematch.

I was a bit disappointed. The harder the competition, the faster the shots, the more I want the game. It’s a bummer to lose, but in rec play, I’d much prefer to lose than to slaughter my opponents. René just wasn’t matching the vibe. After a long hard day, she wanted more upbeat “fun” opponents.

We took a short break before we found some new opponents. We played four or five games against Mike (build like a linebacker) and another fellow Dave. Mike plays at Skypark now and then and I’ve seen Dave maybe a handful of times before. They were both weaker players and René and I won all of the games. They did improve over the course of those games, taking the games from very lopsided to somewhat lopsided.

We finished up about 9:20, René needed to drive about 45 minutes to get home and needed to be up early. I hoping to squeeze in one more game but everyone was done.

Number of days on a court: 553
Number of total hours: 2,497.5

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

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