Adventures of Andrew Lenz and a Yellow Ball

Month: November 2023 (Page 1 of 2)

Skypark Rust Knockoff, Pickleball Growing

Tuesday, November 28, 2023 (Court Day #611)

With my PPR coaching certification workshop coming up on Friday and they said they will be evaluating my play there—though there was talk of using UTPR or DUPR ratings—I felt it would be wise to get in some gameplay. I had physical therapy and Scotts Valley anyway at 5:30 p.m., so once I was done about an hour later, I just hopped in the car and drove across the road to the courts.


Even with the November chill in the air where you could see your breath, things were hopping and they were using the sign-up board.

It was super fun getting to see a lot of the regulars there. There is David and Max and Tiffany and her twin sister Nicole, and Larry Y. and Mike. Also, there was Sean Lynch, who is teaching the other pickleball class through Santa Cruz County Parks & Rec at Willowbrook on Sundays immediately after my class. I didn’t get a chance to play with him tonight. I hear he’s a banger with little soft game, while I may have played with him in the past, I don’t recall doing so.

Overall, I was disappointed in my play as evening . . . not a surprise, given this is my second outing in three months and minimal play in the last six months. My play was kind of sloppy and I hit a few shots wide trying for winners. There is also an overhead that I jumped up, swung, and the ball landed about three feet in front of me. I’m not sure that I’ve ever done that before! It was rather embarrassing, but fortunately I was playing with a fun group of people.

This play went on over the three hour stretch that I was there. My play improved to the point where I starting to get happier with it. I need to be patient with myself.

There are a couple of noticeable changes over the last six months. One is Pauly has gotten much better. He has some side spin his drives and has better serves too. I noticed was Max has some pretty good spin on his serves . . . much like the banana shot I was talking about in one of my last few posts, that’s what he’s using. One thing is, Max is consistently using that one serve and that makes him predictable. I was taking half a step to the right. There was one where he switched it up and served it barely in reach of my backhand and got me—point! Although that was only once over the course of the night. All the rest of his serves were curving off to my right. Nonetheless, it’s a good weapon that he’s developed.

There is young woman there, but I don’t believe that I played with before it seems that she knew the fellow name Spencer. Her name is Sam. She somewhat short and stocky and has an obviously strong tennis background. She didn’t have much of a soft game, but her drives and scoops are excellent.

I was in a game with Brandon against David and Max when the lights clicked off at 9:30 p.m. The score was tied 10-10. It was very entertaining and challenging game.

My surgery knee was not very happy by the end of the three hours. As I walked to my car, I was significantly hurting on the inside of my right knee. Also the back of my right hand and my right wrist were aching a bit.

Wednesday, November 29, 2023 (No Play)

My knee is sore this morning with certain motions, but is much better than last night.

Pickleball Passes Tennis

Apple’s website has an article that I just discovered from last month about pickleball through data collected from their Apple Watches. (I have an older one that I only wear when I need discretion to access texts and calls and I don’t use my Apple Watch for pickleball!)

“Researchers also saw a steady increase in the popularity of pickleball workouts, with pickleball workouts surpassing tennis workouts for the first time. Utah took the top spot as the state with the most recorded pickleball workouts per capita in the study. The research found that both pickleball and tennis workouts were popular across all adult ages, and both were more popular with men than women.” 

“The average peak heart rate was nine beats per minute faster during tennis workouts, which averaged 152 beats per minute, compared to 143 beats per minute in pickleball.”

A incredibly strong growth trend for pickleball. Tennis appears stable. It’s interesting to see the peaks and valleys of weather on the chart . . . dipping in winter and peaking in summer.

Thursday, November 30, 2023 (No Play)

Tonight, around 8 p.m., I discovered that there are an additional two hours of videos that I was supposed to watch before the coaching certification workshop tomorrow. Oops. Cramming…

Number of days on a court: 611
Number of total hours: 2,680
Number of paid coaching hours: 5

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

Thanksgiving Knee Tryout

Thursday, November 23, 2023 (Court Day #610)

It was a beautiful day, mid-60s, sunshine, no clouds, no breeze. My daughter has asked a few days ago about me perhaps joining her, her boyfriend Aidan, his mom Trish and her boyfriend Bill in some pickleball on Thanksgiving. My knee is still not 100%, but honestly, I don’t know if it’ll ever be 100% again.

Trish and Bill opted for the courts at Cabrillo. I’d never played there for rec play, only one tournament and helping at the recent Newman Camp.

We had a sit-down breakfast at my house then Aidan and Charlotte headed to the courts. I drove my son Nicholas along with my wife Kristen and our second corgi Pepper, who my wife would be walking while we played. We also invited my younger brother John who said he might come.


When we arrived just after 10 a.m., there were two doubles games going on. I recognized two players, one was Rosie, a woman who I’ve seen at Derby Park.
“I haven’t seen you for months!”
“I had knee surgery.”

There was a man and a young woman on the adjacent tennis court. The problem was that tennis court was also occupying the only remaining marked out pickleball courts. The man figured out what I wanted and offered to move to one of the empty tennis courts over the fence, which they kindly did. He and I chatted for a moment. He teaches horticulture at Cabrillo once a year and the young woman is a current Cal Poly student.

It was then that Charlotte and the Aidan clan arrived. Also there were Aidan’s younger brother Jordy and also their cousin Robby. Jordy’s girlfriend arrived too and she later on joined a game as Charlotte’s partner.

We set up the net I brought. Trish then asked for help setting up their net. It was a pretty serious net in a bag with rollers. The net itself is portable, but with heavy-duty flattened tubing and locking casters. Not cheap!

From Right to Left: Nicholas, Charlotte, Aidan, Robby (sleeveless).

We rotated through partners then my brother John arrived and I played a few games with him. This was his third time out playing. He‘s gotten better. He still needs to work on getting to the net, but he’s getting his serves in. (He had good success with the drop serve.) He was a mix of rookie moves and some shots that were impressive.

Charlotte has good hand-eye coordination. With more practice—I’m sure medical school gets in the way!—she could be really good.

Just about everyone left about 11:40 to get ready for activities of the day—Thanksgiving, after all!—though John and Nicholas stayed to play a game against me, with me covering only half the court. They are too good, particularly Nicholas, for me to try and cover the whole court. I won by a sizable margin, as you’d expect. We left a little bit after noon.

Later on, on John’s house with two big tables full worth of family, he mentioned, “The first couple of times that I played, I didn’t really understand how good of a player that you are.” Nice compliment, thanks, bro!

In The News

An article about the new drive for pickleball sound mitigation…

Saturday, November 25, 2023 (No Play)

Not a big surprise, my knee hurting from the playing on Thursday. It’s not to the point of limping, just hurts the most going down stairs and aches with my leg in certain positions.

Work Visit

A player that I taught a few years ago at Derby, Allison, stopped in at work today. We chatted for a few minutes. She’s been playing with a group of similar-skilled woman in the afternoons a few days a week. Good for her. I mentioned that I’m teaching a beginner class for the county and she said, “You’d be perfect for that. You are so patient.” A nice vote of confidence.

This video popped up tonight while cruising on YouTube. Zane Naratil explains the “banana shot” popularized by Rafael Nadal. This is what I’ve used for years in my serve arsenal, not knowing that it has a name.

Tennis Legend

Andre Agassi on pickleball:


Andre Agassi wants you to know pickleball is here to stay, tennis players 💪 #andreagassi #patmcafee #tennis #pickleball #pickleballtiktok

♬ original sound – the dink.

So, “take that” tennis players making mocking videos of throwing pickleball paddles in the trash!


I finished watching the PPR Pre-Certification videos. It wasn’t that bad, less than 2 hours. There are other instructional videos that are not required for certification, but are helpful. Those total about 10 hours of run time. I’ll be spending time watching those, but I have to finish reading the PPR guidebook first.


Zane Naratil and Thomas Shields host the Picklepod podcast. It bring in some top players and key movers and shakers in the pickleball world. In this episode, they talked with Carl Schmits of USA Pickleball about the testing of paddles. As a techie nerd-head, I found it fascinating:
Or you can watch the podcast episode on YouTube:
Carl did a fabulous job representing the association.

Linked from the website of Pickle Pro Labs—an independent testing service—is this commentary by Ben Johns about paddle testing and fairness in competition:

Searching around, I found this PDF, marked “confidential”, but it looks like it’s been shared in similar formats elsewhere intentionally:

Mentioned in the podcast was YouGov, which they said claimed that there are 30,000,000 people are playing the sport in the USA. I found an article from January . . . maybe I shared it or a similar one before, but here it is:

Here are more results from YouGov:

Sunday, November 26, 2023 (No Play)

I didn’t mention it, but it appears that the original “Pickleball Forum” on Facebook started by pro player Aspen Kern was deleted sometime in recent months and replaced by a new Pickleball Forum on Facebook that I had to join again to participate. All posts to the original group are now gone. It’s a total drag. It provided history and I’m sure I have links here in my blog to a now-deleted Facebook Group. I know Aspen had turned over most (or all) of the moderator duties to others, but perhaps he got tired of whatever remaining obligations that he had or perhaps the ownership was transferred by Facebook to some other individual. This sometimes happens and the original owner/moderators lose any control over the group and it can turn into a haven for spam posts and blasting members with spam. I never saw any spam, so who knows. All I can do is speculate.

Number of days on a court: 610
Number of total hours: 2,677
Number of paid coaching hours: 5

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

Teaching 1st County Class, PPR

Sunday, November 12, 2023 (No Play)

And I left my house at 12:45 p.m, giving me 45 minutes before my class was supposed to start, which was plenty of time to get situated once at Willowbrook Park.


Arrived in Aptos about 1 p.m. and pulled up alongside the courts, parked and I got out, and noticed that all the courts were empty except for one man with a basket of balls. I grab my things from the car and walked over. It was then that I realized it was all tennis courts—nine private courts. Oops. (If figured out later that these courts belong to the Imperial Courts Tennis Club and apparently they do have one permanent dedicated pickleball court on the far side.) This was only my third trip to Willowbrook Park in nearly 7 years of me playing pickleball—it’s not a huge surprise that I forgot exactly where it was on the road! I put everything back into my car and drove two blocks further down to the real Willowbrook Park.

What’s kind of amusing is if you zoom in on the current Google maps image of the Imperial Courts, you’ll that every single one of the tennis courts are empty and the single pickleball court has people on it!


I saw there were a couple of women hitting a ball back-and-forth plus another couple of women milling about. One woman, Deb Diaz Menges, introduced herself to me. Rec, company organizing the classes and reservations, tries to make sure that there are still some free courts for drop-in in play whenever a class will occupy some of the courts. Mike told me via email with they accidentally reserved all the courts. Deb had three reserved for her group and I would have two courts for my class.

I wrote my first name on some white tape and stuck onto my shirt: “Andrew”. Most of the students arrived about five minutes before class was going to start. I wrote people’s names on tape as each one arrived. Once all the students were there, I had everyone introduced themselves and explain a little bit about their background with any racket sports. I passed around a form I’d prepared to get each student’s email address. 

I went on to talk about court safety . . . like not backing up for lobs . . . and I also talked about proper footwear. And eye protection. I also asked if anyone had any medical conditions.  None. 

I briefly explained some of the key rules of pickleball and I tried to keep that short so that I could get them onto the court and start having fun.

We started with controlled drinking just back-and-forth between two people across from that from each other.

Then them all back up midway between the kitchen line and the baseline.

We took a quick water break and I explained  serving.

We did that for a bit then took another water break then I explained scoring and had them play a game.

It went very well. I don’t think I would have changed a thing.

Shortly before 3 p.m., Sean Lynch showed up and I introduced myself to him. He’d be teaching the 3 p.m. class. Sean hasn’t been playing pickleball nearly as long as I have, but he has more general coaching experience . . . last year, he took over as the women’s basketball coach at Cabrillo College.

Tuesday, November 14, 2023 (No Play)

I had PT this evening with Dr. Matt. My knee was not perfect, but it was relatively pain-free going through the exercises. Not entirely pain free, but better. Hopefully, this is sign of things to come.

Wednesday, November 15, 2023 (No Play)

I pulled the trigger. I’m now registered for the PPR Certification Workshop in Sunnyvale on Friday, December 1. $145. It’s pretty close, less an hour drive away with good traffic.

Sunday, November 19, 2023 (No Play)

When I got to Willowbrook today for my second session of my 4-week class, a woman was there giving a tennis lesson and taking up the four main pickleball courts. She insisted in no uncertain terms that she had the tennis court reserved until 2:15 p.m. and that the court(s) had been double-booked and that she had the same double-booking problem earlier this morning around 8:30 a.m. When I checked the website, it only showed my class reservation and nothing else. When I asked her if she had received an email confirmation of her booking, she blew me off as a distraction to what she was doing. Rec had told me about a double-booking last week, so I knew that it was at least possible, but they hadn’t warned me this week. Regardless, this woman was absolutely not budging from “her” court . . . and I wasn’t going to get into a fight with her over it.

I ended up doing a 45-minute “chalk talk” over on the basketball court. I quickly shifted some of the things was going to talk about in my next lesson to this week. Then we moved onto our courts at the stroke of 2:15 p.m. (It didn’t seem that any of my students were overly upset about the delay taking the courts, one of the players later told me, “You are such a good coach.” It made my day!)

Relative Pickleball

My mother-in-law Bonnie from San Diego was visiting my sister-in-law Liz and her family up in San Carlos and they made a pickleball outing when my son drove up and visited for the day.

My niece, my mother-in-law, and my son Nicholas. They sent me proof!

Monday, November 20, 2023 (No Play)

I heard back from Rec today that that tennis instructor didn’t actually have the court reserved yesterday. She had emailed the county (the old system) only 1 or 2 days in advance asking to reserve the court but didn’t get any response. She merely assumed she had the court anyway, which she didn’t since our class had the courts booked weeks in advance. The court was not “double-booked” as she claimed. She was just presumptuous and bullheaded. Annoying, really. Rec said that they’d work with her to get her on the new system.

We’re Famous!

Riley Newman shared a short video on social media. If one looks carefully, one will notice that it was recorded here in Santa Cruz County during the recent workshop held out at Cabrillo College:


Here’s a really good in-depth video on the strategy of dinking I just discovered:


I’ve been watching the required PPR “Pre-Certification” videos. I don’t know about the rest, but the first few videos are not very “time compact”. They are informational and demonstrative both in the content and how the content is presented. It’s presented to a coach in real-time in a similar method to how you would explain topics to beginners. That makes it a little slow. The content could be delivered easily in half the time and perhaps even a quarter of the time. But it gets the job done.

Number of days on a court: 609
Number of total hours: 2,675
Number of paid coaching hours: 3.5

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

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