Adventures of Andrew Lenz and a Yellow Ball

Month: February 2023 (Page 1 of 2)

Sunday in the Park with Binh

Sunday, February 19, 2023. (Court Day #579)

Last night, René called and asked if I wanted a white board that she and her friend Rick were seeing at CVS a few miles away. Not that club has immediate need for it, but I figured we’d need it sooner or later, so I told them to grab it. They stopped by my house shortly thereafter and dropped it off with me.

Also, last night, Binh texted me asking if I’d be at Derby Park today. I told him yes. We have that tournament coming up next month.


I got to Derby early—before 9 a.m.—and there were three people there dinking at one of the two city nets and Mark G. was out blowing off the courts again with his personal blower. I told Mark that I’d have to give him my pay for the day . . . we both know that the pay is zero!

Of immediate note was the brand new storage bin! The rusting one was replaced. No doubt, this was Dan Bliss at work!

(Actually this photo was taken just as I was about to leave!)

With a tournament going on in Monterey today, there were a handful of players not around. Rick and René were not in attendance, for example.

I played my first two games of the day left-handed against weaker players.

Binh and I joined up at 10 a.m. when skill time started. We won all of our games except one . . . KA—a friend of Ms. J—played really well. A solid 4.0+. She and Dan R. took on Binh and me. Before the game, Dan told KA that we’d kick their butts. That didn’t happen. Binh and I lost 11-6 or something like that. KA doesn’t live around here but I told her she’s welcome any time!

Wrapping Up

Rick Abend and I counted the donations from the session. We also changed the chain linking the two bins together. It was passed through one link in the fence. In other words, one quick cut of the relatively thin wire and the chain was free from the fence. I talked Rick into helping me and we were barely able to secure the chain around the big pipe at bottom of the fence. Another inch and we probably couldn’t have done it.

Not Wrapping Up!

As I was about to leave, Nicole asked if we were leaving and she though we (Rick and I) were going to take on the winners. Ha, ha! So it is with pickleball: “One more game!”

Rick and I played Max and Mike (both of whom often play at Skypark in the evenings). Max has really come along. He got off shots I was not expecting. Rick and I won 11-6, but they were not cannon fodder by any stretch.

Nicole and her twin sister Tiffany still wanted to play and so I played with Tiffany and Rick played with Nicole. Tiffany and I won.

It was 10 minutes to 2 p.m. by the time I actually left the courts.

Number of days on a court: 579
Number of total hours: 2,573.5
Number of paid coaching hours: 1

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

Inconsistent Night.

Thursday, February 16, 2023. (Court Day #578)

This afternoon, my wife asked me if I was going to play pickleball tonight or not. Initially, I was thinking I was not but when she mentioned it, I started to think about it. By the end of the day, I decided I was going to go ahead and play. My wrist wasn’t bothering me too much and rain is predicted for next week according to my wife. I left work, raced home, changed, and drove out to Scotts Valley.

I arrived at Skypark in about 7 p.m. and the parking lots and side streets were full as well as the dirt parking alongside the courts. I pulled around and parked in the sketchy area in the back. I said sketchy because it’s more likely to get your car stuck in the uncompacted dirt.

As I walked in, all courts were in use and a few players were sitting or standing waiting to get onto court.

First Game

My first game was against Roman and Danny who were both at Derby Park on Sunday, and I was partnered with Max. It is a good thing that they were not among the strong players there tonight, because I started out slow. I was missing shots and feeding high easy balls for my opponents. Max and I found ourselves down a little bit, but my game still be improved and we came back and won.

My last game was with Rachel Kuo—my former high school classmate—against David and Minori. We played on borrowed time as it became 9:30 and we still hadn’t finished our game. Minori was mid-serve to Rachel, up 10-6, when the lights clicked off . . . ending our play before the end of the game. That was a funny one, we were scrambling to finish that game, getting into position and serving quickly.


I made a handful of shots tonight where I kind of amazed myself about how good they were. On the flipside, I also had some shots, too many, where I was disgusted with myself. The disgusting shots definitely outnumbered the amazing shots.


After Sunday’s play, I had a slight pull in my left quadricep. I barely noticed it tonight. But on a few backhand shots, I did notice the back of my hand hurting. When I got home, I had one cooling pack on my hand and the other on my right knee. Sigh.

Number of days on a court: 578
Number of total hours: 2,569
Number of paid coaching hours: 1

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

Slam, Half Volley, Winner. Coaching.

Sunday, February 12, 2023. (Court Day #577)

My right wrist was doing well enough that I figured I’d play today. As I prepared to leave the house, it was sunny and I considered just a T-shirt and shorts. But I checked the temperature and it was a very chilly 44° . . . sweatshirt! And I was almost out the door when I realized that I forgotten to put on sunscreen. I guess not having played in the sun for at least  three weeks I’m a little out of practice a the “sunscreen front”.

Derby with Help

I arrived at Derby Park about a quarter to 9, three people were already on a court—little Barb G. and two people I don’t know. I had a lot of help setting up this morning. Mark G. brought his personal blower and started blowing off the courts for me. Little Barb walked away from her warm up to help set up nets and got others to help too. (Kudos to Barb!) I got out the club blower and piggybacked on Mark’s work to finish blowing off the courts. The ironic thing was once the nets were set up, the scheduling board was hung, the courts were blown off, and the rest of the setup was done, there were four courts with games going and I was the odd man out with no one to warm up or play with. Alas.

Brace, Brace, Brace

Today, my right side was like the Bionic Man—wrist brace, forearm strap, knee brace!

More Newbies

There were four newbies today. Paul, his wife Tori, and their adult daughter. Paul and Tori had watched some YouTube videos so they had at least some basics down. There is another newbie, a woman, but after Barb told me about her, Barb must have trained her herself since I couldn’t find a newbie standing around waiting for training.

Good Battles

I got into some really good games against René and Rick. I had two games partnered with Avery against them and Avery and I won both games. I had the shot of the day in one of those. Rick (permanently playing lefty these days) and across from me, slammed the ball near my left ankle. I managed a low backhand half volley which was a successful passing shot down the sideline for a winner. With a smile, Rick complimented, “I was not expecting that to come back!” I also got compliments from René and Avery on that one.

Later, Eric and I played a game against René and Rick. I think we lost the first one, but won the second. Regardless, they were pretty close good games.

In that the last game with Eric, I asked him what time it was and he said 12:30. Oops. I supposed to leave at noon for a family birthday party at my sister’s house and by the time the game was done and I was in my car it was 12:53 p.m. I didn’t get to my sisters house until 1:07 p.m. and only a few were still eating, but people were happy to see me regardless. Gotta love family! I was in time for hanging out and cake and ice cream.

My brother Matt, nephew Patrick, and me.


My brother John was messing around with ChatGPT while at the party. He asked it to “Write a children’s story about three friends, one who is a grumpy turtle, one who is a clever rat and one who is a sarcastic goose who all want to cross a lake but can’t.” It wrote a story which was actually not bad, then John asked it…

 “Tell a story about those characters playing pickleball

One beautiful summer day, Tilly, Remy, and Gertie decided to try their hand at a new game they’d heard about called pickleball. They grabbed their paddles and headed over to the park, eager to try out this exciting new sport.

Tilly, being the grumpiest of the three, was skeptical. “I don’t see what all the fuss is about,” he muttered as they set up the court. “It’s just tennis, but smaller.”

But once the game got started, Tilly’s attitude quickly changed. Remy, being the cleverest of the three, had picked up the rules quickly and was able to teach Tilly and Gertie the basics. Gertie, being the most sarcastic of the three, made snarky comments about how it was “just like tennis, but for animals who can’t hit a real ball.”

Despite Gertie’s comments, the three friends quickly became engrossed in the game. Tilly, with his powerful shell, was able to smash the ball with incredible force. Remy, with his quick reflexes, was able to hit the ball in all the right spots. And Gertie, with her ability to fly, was able to cover the court with ease.

As they played, they laughed and shouted, their competitive spirits pushing them to play their best. They were having so much fun that they hardly noticed the time flying by.

Eventually, the sun began to set and they realized they had been playing for hours. Tilly, for once, was the first to suggest they call it a day. “I suppose it’s time to head home,” he said, a little breathless from all the running around.

Remy and Gertie agreed, and they packed up their paddles, each of them feeling a sense of satisfaction from the fun they had shared. As they walked home, they talked about how much they enjoyed playing together and how they couldn’t wait to do it again.

From that day on, Tilly, Remy, and Gertie became regulars at the pickleball court, delighting in the challenge and excitement of the game. They learned that even the grumpiest, cleverest, and most sarcastic of friends could come together to have a great time, no matter what the activity.

Wow, right? Pretty amazing story for artificial intelligence! If no one told me, I would completely believe it was written by a human!

There is a dark side, of course. A friend’s son recently decided to take a semester off from college. He had written a paper for a class but two of his classmates had used Chat GPT to write theirs and both got a better grade than he did. He was obviously frustrated and dejected. Why put in the effort when his classmates will cheat and get a better grade? As a society, we will all have to figure out how to fix this problem.

Wednesday, February 15, 2023 (No Play)

A momentous occasion. I’ve done a fair amount of unpaid coaching—training sessions for newbies either as part of club play or as part of a team of club instructors for a private session—but today was my first ever paid coaching experience.

Also new was the age of my pupils. I’ve never coached anyone quite this young. Kevin is 6 1/2 and his older sister Sienna is 8-years-old. I arrived at Skypark 15 minutes early—6 p.m. was the planned starting time—and their mother, Maria, pulled in with her two youngsters seconds after.

Midway though our lesson, a couple guys showed up and so I set up my portable net nearby to clear a space for them to play. (With our own net, we wouldn’t get bumped by someone seeking to play.)

I have to say, coaching young kids is harder than adults. Their attention spans are shorter and their motor skills are not fully developed. But I had done a good amount of preparation and was ready with drills for evaluation and help grow their ball control skills. I felt the hour lesson went well. I will say that successful serving from the baseline will be months down the road, but it was a good test to see how that would go, but we need to build a platform of skills first. We ended with a dinking game of the kids against their mom and me. I used my undersized training paddle. We let them win for encouragement. We finished up shortly after 7 p.m., so they got a little extra time. I showed the kids how to peaks down and stow a net.

Overall, I feel it went really well and Maria was also happy. I loaned my training paddle to Sienna as she was fascinated by it. Our next lesson should be in about a week. I gave them some drills to work on a home in the meantime. Ball control is the name of the game.

Oh, and I suppose that I should note that I’m not counting coaching time in my court time count.

Number of days on a court: 577
Number of total hours: 2,566.5
Number of paid coaching hours: 1

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

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