Thursday, October 6, 2022 (No Play)

First, let me say that after playing a bunch leading up to last Sunday’s tournament, the siren’s call of pickleball was very weak. I took Tuesday night off. Tonight is pipe band practice. I may play tomorrow, Friday morning.

Permanent Courts in Santa Cruz?

The City of Santa Cruz sent out an email. I don’t know if this went to just people on a tennis/pickleball interest list or everyone in their P&R system. (I managed a city league softball team for a number of years, so I’d be in their system from that.)

Dear Community Member,

I would like to invite you to two upcoming public meetings regarding proposed court modifications at 2300 Delaware Avenue (UCSC’s property) and Sgt. Derby Park. The Parks and Recreation Department is proposing for the City to enter into a License Agreement with the University of California, Santa Cruz to convert the two tennis courts to eight pickleball courts at 2300 Delaware Avenue and to appropriate funds to implement the project. Upon the project’s completion, the Parks and Recreation Department also plans to convert the existing shared-use courts (two tennis courts which are striped to allow for pickleball play) to only allow for tennis play at Sgt Derby Park. If approved and funded, pickleball play would be available on permanent courts at 2300 Delaware Avenue and only tennis would be played at the Sgt. Derby Park courts.Please see attached notice for more details.  

Thank you,
Noah Downing
Park Planner
Parks and Recreation
City of Santa Cruz

John P., on the Santa Cruz Pickleball Club board, called me about the proposal, but I was working and had to call him back. When I did, he explained that in order to keep the Parks & Recreation Commission in the best possible mood, the plan was to limit the number of speakers on our behalf to just five people. John asked if I would be willing to be in one of the five speakers. Of course, I said yes.

I don’t have a lot of experience with public speaking, but I did it a few years ago when there was a proposal on the table for the same commission to turn Derby Park into just pickleball and not tennis. At that meeting, I provided some hard data regarding sound pressure levels I had recorded in and around the courts. This was to balance out a neighbor who got up and, as expected, complained about pickleball noise. This time, John explained to me, the meeting would be virtual instead of in person. I would much rather have it in person, but it is what it is.

This proposal would alleviate a lot of issues, most of which are due to the popularity of pickleball. The proposed location would have eight permanent courts instead of just six temporary courts. It would also have a substantial amount of parking, which fixes the complaint about player parking is negatively impacting the neighborhood. Another issue that this would alleviate is the complaints about noise as the new location is not near any housing—it is in a much more commercial and industrial area. All in all, it’s a pretty great solution. It’s also only 2 to 3 minutes of driving away from the current location at Derby Park.


Friday, October 7, 2022 (Court Day #558)

The weather has changed substantially in the last few weeks. We have left summer and entered fall. As I was driving to Brommer Park, the temperature on my car was reading 56°. As I drove, I hoped that the cooler temperature and the periodically very lightly misting fog would keep people from coming as early and leave me a parking spot. Though at 9:20, I could see Art and another apparent player walking down the street toward the courts and there were two cars circling in the lot ahead of me in a futile search for spot. I ended up parking down the block on a side street.

Walking into the courts.

As with all organized club play, the first hour from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m., is mixed skill play. I got into some disposable games with very short rallies. 10 o’clock rolled around and I saw the René, who in rolled her ankle a week go, out playing on one of the courts. I waited for her to finish up as there didn’t appear to be any appropriate games materializing. I could either try to weasel my way into a game with Dan and Dean which would probably meet resistance or I’d have to play with players that are signing up in red who I feel are really intermediate players.

Kiko

There was a very tall young-ish man there with blond dreadlocks who I didn’t know and have still never played with. Dave Debiasi explained that this fellow, Kiko, went to Oregon where he played linebacker for the Ducks football team and was later drafted into the NFL and played for Buffalo. Dave said he was very highly regarded and played well. I asked if Kiko got injured and Dave replied the Kiko had blown out his knee. I didn’t get a chance to play with Kiko but I imagine his wide reach would be very helpful for him. I later looked up Kiko online and it turns out he had a pretty long NFL career, playing with several teams over seven years:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kiko_Alonso
In the article, it says Kiko went to Los Gatos High School, which is a mere 20 minutes north, between Santa Cruz and San Jose, so he probably has family in our area.

René

I got a few games in with René as my partner, which is good considering we have a tournament together in about two weeks. I felt in my play was overall subpar today. My dropshots were not super reliable . . . some were a little too low and some were too high—either way the rally was over in very short order. It’s a far cry from my appearance at a club-arranged workshop at Derby when I was nailing nearly all my dropshots.

Don’t Want to Win?

In one game with René, we were playing against Rick and Art. As we were about to start, René told me, “We want to hit to Art.” I said something about hitting to Rick too. She said, “You want to win, right?”
“No . . . [dramatic pause] . . . I want to get better.”
She thought for a second, then replied, “I understand. I’m in tournament mode.”
As I’ve mentioned before, in rec games, I want them difficult. Illegal serve? Fine. Hit to the stronger player? Fine. I can hit to easier players during mixed skill time.

Matt

I played two games with Matt, the taller, thin Canadian 4.0+ player. One game against him and one with him. He’s quick.

One proud moment was in the first game when Matt was directly in front of me. He was dinking crosscourt to René to my left. This went back and forth a few times. Matt did a speed up right at me off a crosscourt dink. But I knew it might be coming. I whipped the ball back down between their feet for a winner. Matt was very surprised and laughed, “You were ready for that one!” Yep. Expect the ball fast, at any time, off of any shot.

In the second game, it was Rick and René—she’s playing with him in a tournament in Las Vegas next month—against Matt and me. I felt bad for Matt. Rick and René were targeting me. Matt had to poach to get into the game more. It’s not a philosophy I agree with. As I mentioned, in rec play, hit to the better player to get better yourself. Years ago, early on in my pickleball journey, I got into a game with Karen Long against Terry Long and John Connor. All stronger players than me. Terry and John barely hit the ball to me. It was Karen, Karen, Karen. I was on an island. They knew they’d get a better game that way. That said, I believe I was better than they thought at that time since I was improving by leaps and bounds in that first year or two. (It was roughly around that time that Karen told me that I was “the most improved player”—that after Kevin and I beat her and Leslie and Kevin told me after that game that I had carried him.)

It was a little after noon. There were no advanced players available and I had work to get to. I called it a day.

Number of days on a court: 558
Number of total hours: 2,511.5

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