Sunday, October 2, 2022 (Court Day #557)

Still out with a rolled ankle, my original planned partner René was able to get a friend of hers to fill in, Kristin “Kris” Kuppe, who lives mere minutes from Mitchell Park in Palo Alto, the location of the 2022 Bay Area Senior Games.

I drove up and met Kris in her driveway at 10:47 a.m. (And I do mean “met”. We’d never seen or talked other than by text in the last 48 hours!) Kris was very pleasant and I loaded my backpack, extra shoes, and chair into the back of her car. Kris is fairly tall for a woman at about 5’7″. Play was scheduled to start at noon, so after parking, we had plenty of time to get situated and warm up.

The courts seem to have been redone since I was there 4-5 years ago. It seems much more pickleball friendly. I think there weren’t permanent pickleball courts previously.

René had said she’d come to watch and hang out and she indeed appeared.

View of the courts from the benches.

We found the registration tent to signed in. A very pleasant surprise, manning one of the computers, was none other than former Santa Cruz Pickleball Club webmaster and former site coordinator Dave Allenbaugh . . . wearing the exact same blue SCPC shirt as I was wearing! Dave got us signed in and arranged for us to get our free tournament T-shirts. Dave has been M.I.A. lately, he had a knee replaced and will be having the second one done in the not too distant future.

Dave also asked if I wanted to get update texts for the tournament. This was new to me. I said yes, and I gave him my mobile number.

Warm Ups

Kris and I found an empty court and did some dinking and drop shots and volleys. One never knows what to make of an unknown partner, but Kris did well, she’s a solid 3.5.

There was a team there that Kris knew, Miryam and David, and we did a warm up game with them. Kris and I took a quick and sizable lead. They started catching up. Since they were stacking, they got confused at one point and Miryam thought she was still serving though David had just served to Kris from that side. Given it was a warm up game, I wasn’t going to challenge her claim, as it made no difference to me. Though from then on, I knew the game wasn’t accurate or fair, so I took it even less seriously. They ended up “winning” the warm up game by a couple of points.

Waiting

We wandered back to the picnic tables where we had parked our chairs and waited for our first game. At 12:06 p.m., I got a text from the tournament system saying that our pool had started. Mike Hoxie called our category together near the registration tent and announced how things would work. By the time Kris and I realized it was happening and got there, we missed the start of it, but it was pretty routine. We’d all be playing to 15 in the round robin.

There was a question by one of the participants and Mike explained there was a last-minute partner change and that changed the number of teams in the age-group. I figured this might be us, but it took another minute to realize that Kris is in 55-59 bracket, not 50-54, so we were now playing in a different group than René and I would have originally played. Yep, it was us. There would be two pools, one with five teams and another with six.

It wasn’t until 12:47 did we get a text that it was time for our first game. I learned much later that Kris and I had the first bye, so that’s why we had waited so long.

Game 1

Our first game would be against Ginny and David Lee at Court #9. Kris confided that they are both new players. Kris and I took a quick and big lead. It was obvious that they were more in the 3.0 skill range.

About two-thirds through the game, I did something I shouldn’t do in a tournament, I hit a shot to David at the net crosscourt when Ginny was back and the obvious target. I was feeling bad for them. The shot was high enough for David to hit the ball at my partner’s feet and they got a point. After that, I was more “ruthless”. I reminded myself that you never know when a team will turn around and suddenly climb back into a game. We wrapped up the game 15-1.

After the game, I asked when they had started playing pickleball. Ginny said three months. I gave her some encouragement and let her know that I’ve been playing for years.

Between our first two games, a shot of the white TD tent .

Game 2

After a very brief wait, at 1:13, our next game came up. Mike asked, “I’m not making the games too quick, am I? You have enough of a break?” I shrugged it off, told him it was fine. I collected the score sheet clipboard from his table and Kris and I headed to Court #12. After waiting for a bit, I went to Mike and he made an announcement over the loudspeaker asking for our opponents. Debbie You and Peter Zepponi promptly appeared a few minutes later.

Peter is tall and Debbie is short. Peter has powerful drives, but after facing Matt Smith for a year now, I’m used to those. That and Peter hit a few of them into the net. With the height differential between our opponents, Debbie was our general target.

This was another 15-1 win though Debbie and Peter were a bit more challenging than our first game.

Game 3

The alert for our next game came at 1:45 p.m. We would face Ruby Cawley (of Manteca) and Daniel Aumack (of San Jose). Like the first games, we rocketed to a fast start and were up 5-0 in pretty short order. But things got harder. Both teams scored 4 more points, bringing the score to 9-4. It was about then that I noticed that Daniel was left-handed. When I pointed this out to Kris, she hadn’t noticed yet. Boy, that’s something that I keep trying to remember as a pre-game checklist!

At this point, errors started kicking in. Kris, who had earlier said her serves aren’t special but she gets them all in, missed several. Daniel got the best of me in a net battle. Kris returned a few serves long. In a massive momentum shift, they scored 11 additional points to our mere 1. We found ourselves at the losing side of a 10-15 final score. Ouch.

That was one we let slip away. We were now 2-1 overall.

Game 4

At 2:16 p.m., we were supposed to play at Court #11 , directly across the divider from our previous game, but one of our opponents, Linda, asked Mike if we could play on a permanent court instead. Personally, I’d never do that, I just figure the TD is too busy to bother, but Mike granted her request. Another text came at 2:22 saying our court had been reassigned to Court #5.

Our opponents would be Linda Severet (of Antioch) and Glenn DeQuiroz (of Discover Bay, CA).

Linda and Glenn are nice people. Unassuming but very capable. Kris and I got clobbered. There were two shots that were high enough to slam but I was forcing the shot—we were already very behind—and slammed those two balls into our side of the net. So frustrating! And to demonstrate how badly I must have been playing in this game, Linda started targeting me.

We took a 15-2 loss. After the game, I told them that their playing style matched up well against ours, whatever that was. Linda said they knew going into the game that they needed to win or they’d be eliminated from the playoffs. I wasn’t even considering that. I just was taking one game at a time and let things fall where they may.

Maybe it was just a one-off, but in that game, there was no question which was the better team.

Waiting

Initially, we were waiting to see when our next game would be. But we discovered that we were in the pool with five teams instead of six, so we were done.

Talking to Daniel, who had been part of the team that came back from down 5-0 to beat us, said they had gone an undefeated 4-0 and that our game was the toughest that they faced. Nice to hear.

We waited to see if we would be in the playoffs or not. I had just taken it game by game and not paid attention to what the standings were. I figured 2-2 would be a longshot. After about 30 minutes Mike got up and announced the playoffs. Kris and I were not called and then he went on and read off names that included ours saying that our day was done. Alas, but not a huge surprise with our record today.

Results

The gold went to Ruby and Daniel—the team that came back from down 4-9 and beat us. (I feel we could have beat them.) The silver went to Linda and Glenn. (I feel like we couldn’t have beat them . . . at least not today.) A surprise, the bronze went to Maryam and David. Kris felt that—and I have agree—had the pools been different, we could have been the bronze medal team, but we had the gold and silver teams in our pool. “Luck of the draw” as they say. Or “unluck”. We ended up in the top half of the bracket, with a positive point differential. Some consolation, at least. That and having the gold medal team down 9-4, we just couldn’t finish them off.

Kris dropped me off at my car and I was home about an hour later at about 5:30 p.m.

UTPR Update

After being a legacy 3.5 player and having to earn my way back up to official 3.5 status, I’m officially back to 3.5 for my “2 Digit Skill Rating”. It’s only updated four times each year and the last update for 2022 happened yesterday:

The tournament today was unsanctioned, so it’ll have no effect on my Mixed Skill Level rating one way or the other.

I was disappointed that we didn’t medal today, but overall, we didn’t do badly all things considered. Onward!

Number of days on a court: 557
Number of total hours: 2,509

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