Adventures of Andrew Lenz and a Yellow Ball

League Match, D-I Pickleball, McEnroe

Thursday, March 30, 2023. (Court Day #588)

Tonight was a SCALPEL league match of Evan and myself against Connor and Zach. Being that it was a night game we opted to play at Skypark, the courts in the county with lights.

Players out having fun.

I left work early and arrived 5:45 p.m. I played one game then saw that another game was just starting . . . René and Evan were playing against Tim F. and Matt Smith—yes, Matt the banger. I asked our team captain René if she’d allow me to replace her so that I could warm up with Evan for our match. She kindly stepped out. I would have done the same for her.

Evan and I played well. I made some very nice shots. Evan said, “You can do that anytime!” (After leaping and poaching and hitting a winner.) We won that game.

Match

There was still daylight when we played our first match game. Evan and I served first and were on a roll and ahead by a few points against Zach and Conner. We were in the middle of a rally and I was in the process of slamming a juicy high ball when a player from an adjacent court ran right behind Zach and Connor along their baseline—it was extremely distracting and I nearly hit that random player when I slammed that ball long. Immediately after the player ran behind our game, I walked over to their court and after their rally was done, I explained to the player not to come on onto our court without telling us first. I was expecting Zach and Connor, optimistically, to simply let me replay the rally without me having to say anything. Instead, they took the side out. I was really annoyed with the situation. That was really distracting. I should have forced the issue and replayed the point.

It was either the next rally or the one right after that where we had an identical situation—except the player came over from the court on the other side. Again, I fully expected our opponents to replay that rally, instead they switched positions and took the point. They probably would have let me replay it had I pushed it, but I didn’t. I’m not one to push situations like that. I can say with 100% certainty that the second player absolutely interfered with my shot just as the first did. After the second player ran on our court, I walked over and told the woman to call “Ball!” and wait for us to acknowledge before she ran onto our court. The two interference instances got into my head. I didn’t feel it was fair. I felt it cost us at least one rally and maybe two. Being that I was stewing, it probably cost us more.

Later, there was another distraction. After the first two instances, I’d learned my lesson. I put my foot down and we replayed the point. They were incredulous, but just because an errant ball was rolling toward my side from behind them and they didn’t see it until after I hit our ball doesn’t mean that it wasn’t distracting to me.

We ended up losing that game 11-9. I’m still of a mind that those early distractions may have cost us that game.

Game 2

We swapped sides for the second game and this is also a really close back-and-forth game which we won 11-8.

Game 3

In the final game, we agreed to switch sides at six points. By this time it was getting dark. Zach and Connor went on a quick run and ran up a score of 6-0, at which point, we switched sides. Connor and Zach scored another point. Evan and I finally started scoring points and Zach and Connor continued to gradually extend their lead. However, we started to make a game of it for the score of 9-7, getting the score within two points. Each team scored one additional point and I was 10-8. Service went back-and-forth a few times and then finally I couldn’t get a ball back over the net in the game and match were over, 11-8.

Wrap Up

All told, those were very fun and balanced games. And Zach and Conner are both great down-to-earth fun guys. Conner told me that my “flicks” were “very deceptive”. I guess I do a good job hiding my speedups.

With the back of my right hand aching, I didn’t stick around to play more games and simply left at 8:17 p.m. to go home and ice my hand and right knee.


Saturday, April 1, 2023. (No Play)

In an exciting development, Washington State University announced they are adding Division I pickleball to their sports offerings. I was a bit confused since it’s hard to play D-I pickleball if you are the only university offering it—which was mentioned in the article. However, it quickly became apparent that it was all merely a good April Fools joke. I mean, the best ones are the ones that are believable, right?

Here’s link to the article:
https://wsucougars.com/news/2023/4/1/wsu-athletics-wsu-set-to-add-division-i-pickleball-in-2025-26.aspx
However, this page no longer exists and was likely pulled within days of it being posted. But, I did capture it on my phone before it was pulled.

What’s funny is decades from now, D-I pickleball programs might very well be the norm. We shall see. Maybe the Cougars would have been pioneers in a wave of the future.


Sunday, April 2, 2023. (No Play)

I flew out on Friday to Columbus, Ohio for a trade show for work. I’d known for months that I’d be working while The Pickleball Slam was in progress. I was at a business lunch across the street from the convention center with a VP of sales and a Director of Operations when I glanced over to a TV mounted on the wall across the room. There is was on ESPN. McEnroe and Agassi were easy to identify. There was no sound and I could only see about two-thirds of the screen, but I caught little glimpses now and then. It was fun to see pickleball on national television. The sport has come a long way from when I started 6 years ago.

Agassi/Roddick vs McEnroe/Chang – Tennis LEGENDS play pickleball! – $1 million Slam ESPN
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=21WNY92WmWs

On a very positive note, Andre Agassi commented on pickleball after he and Roddick won the match:
“I never thought I was gonna say this but I am playing this as long as I can walk. I can’t wait to get back out there.”

Number of days on a court: 588
Number of total hours: 2,599
Number of paid coaching hours: 2

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2 Comments

  1. Conner McNicholas

    Hey Andrew – Conner here, great post!

    Really nice to get a match summary as seen from the opposite end of the court. This kind of insight is super valuable, and yet only enjoyed by the select few of us who play against pickleball bloggers. Of all the exclusive cliques that count me as a member, this is officially my favorite. Naturally, my perception of certain elements of our match differ from your own, specifically in regard to the distractions.

    In regard to the woman who traversed past our court from behind the baseline when you were about to hit an overhead, I would first point out that Zach and I don’t have eyeballs behind our heads, so we were obviously unaware that this happened. I don’t have a specific memory of you telling us that it happened afterwards, and that it distracted you. If you didn’t directly tell us, and you just went over to somebody and gave them a point of etiquette, were we left to infer that she had done this behind our court, and not somebody else’s court, and that you were expecting that we replay the point? Again, I don’t remember any of this happening, so I’m genuinely looking for clarification on how it transpired.

    With respect to the “errant ball” scenario, I would point out that the ball was rolling beside our court, but its trajectory was away from our court. The ball was never going to roll onto our court. So not only did nobody call “ball on”, this was categorically a “ball off and not coming on” situation.

    To me, it seems there are two firmly entrenched camps with respect to what scenarios demand that a rally should stop and/or a point should be replayed. Camp 1 is quick to yell “ball on” the instant a ball innocuously passes their court, even if there is an infinitesimal risk of any players crossing paths with the ball. Camp 2 prefers to judge each instance on a case by case basis, letting rallies play out when there is little risk of interference.

    As a proud, card-carrying member of Camp 2, I feel the same way about this “woman behind court” scenario as I do about the “errant ball-off” scenario: these types of things happen just so incredibly frequently at public courts that it is silly to expect that they warrant a replaying of rallies. I mean, look, in basketball – the crowd works themselves into a manic frenzy in a deliberate effort to distract the away-team’s player free throw shooter. But a single ball rolling harmlessly past your court is too much of a distraction to handle? Sure basketball and pickleball are different, but this ain’t Indian Wells’ Championship Court during Nationals. It’s a crowded public court at the busiest time of the day, and it seems reasonable that we just play through these minor distractions instead of constantly interrupting the rally and/or replaying the point. Because where do we draw the line? “A car in he parking lot’s alarm went off – redo!”, “A bald eagle flew past and I have ornithophobia – redo!” C’monnn man! (Agghh, this comment would be so much more fun if I could leave GIFs :/ )

    Of course, I don’t claim that my position is right and yours lacks merit. After all, as you wrote, we did agree to replay the point after the errant ball. I’m sure many players would side with you, and I’m happy to hear any reasoning in critique of the view I’ve espoused here (as well as differing recollections of the actual events, as I freely grant that my own may not be perfect).

    Distractions aside, it was a really great (and close!) match either way, and it was a blast playing with a couple stand up guys such as yourselves. We should do it more often!

    -Conner

    • andrewlenz

      Hey, Conner!

      Thanks for the kind words and I’m flattered that you’d take the time to read my ramblings! I’m far behind getting posts finished up and published, so it’s been about six weeks since our match. If I hadn’t recorded my thoughts at the time, a lot of it would be long gone from my head! (“Voice to text” while driving home comes in very handy!) Thanks for sharing your thoughts as well.

      It’s kind of a tempest in a teapot, but I was kind of mad at myself for not . . . I’m not sure what words to use exactly, “standing up for myself” doesn’t seem right since there was no intentional “injustice” happening. When a woman runs in my line of sight and behind an opponent just as I’m bringing my paddle up to hit a ball, I need to really be clear what my desires are: “Let’s replay that point.” That’s on me. If there’s enough warning, then absolutely, it should always be: “Ball on!” or stopping play.

      Ultimately, it’s about what’s fair. We need to rely on each other to be good sportsmen and only ask for a point to be replayed if our shot was truly impacted. If I know I was going to miss a shot or not be able to get to a ball regardless—that is, the “hinderance” made no difference—I’d never ask to replay a point. (On the contrary, I tend to do the opposite, hence my frustration.) Everyone is different and, personally, I have a hard time with random bodies quickly converging with (or already on) the court or when there are two balls approaching at me at the same time, even if one won’t traverse the court. We also need to rely on each other to bring up the instances where it did impact the rally, and in those first two instances, I failed. And I knew I let myself down, I was upset with myself. Other than you being there, it had nothing to do with you and Zach. (As I previously mentioned, you are both great guys! And, yes, we should do it again!)

      And I’ve shared with you directly, but now is a good excuse to say that I believe you are doing an astonishingly fantastic job of organizing this SCALPEL league. I consider myself excellent at setting up systems and organizing things, but you’ve taken this to a whole ‘nother level! So, “thank you!” My only regret is dealing with so many nagging injuries that it’s prevented me from playing in more league games. Knee surgery coming in about two weeks! Wish me luck!!

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