Adventures of Andrew Lenz and a Yellow Ball

Month: February 2024 (Page 1 of 2)

I’m a Liar, Apparently

Sunday, February 25, 2024 (Court Day #629)

As one might expect, my back was tighter this morning than it has been lately. I did take one ibuprofen. It seems like I’ve been taking a lot of it lately, so I want to avoid an excessive amount.


In December 2022, already 14 months ago, I ordered a pair of FILA pickleball shoes that were on sale. Yesterday, I took them with me to the tournament because it’s always wise to have a pair of backup shoes. (I learned that lesson the hard way!) I did briefly wear the Fila shoes around the house this past week to make sure that they fit and didn’t hurt my feet—and my feet were fine—but it’s a good idea to get new shoes broken in somewhat before fully relying on them. I figured I’d wear them to open play today.

This morning, my wife said there was possibly a little bit of rain in the forecast as I drove to Derby Park. It was completely cloudy skies. There is a far cry from the weather we had yesterday for the tournament. Honestly, I don’t mind overcast skies since it’s cooler and alleviates the issue of lobs in the sun.


I arrived at Derby Park at 8:40 a.m. to set up for club play. Barb was the lone person there and she was practicing her serves. It was a chilly 55°F. I was in shorts and a T-shirt, so I was very much hoping we wouldn’t get any sprinkles or, worse, showers! But by 10 o’clock, the clouds had burned off and it turned into a beautiful sunny day in the 60s.

One thing with the FILA shoes is parts of the soles are black. I remember flicking a little rock off the court with my foot and the shoe left a mark on the green surface. Going forward, I’m going to try to stick to purchasing only shoes with white soles.

There were some somewhat fun games today, but I never got into a game where all four players were 3.5 and above. A bit of a bummer.


The most memorable event today was the 30-something man who came with either his girlfriend or wife and what appeared to be her parents. He came shortly after 11:30 a.m. and was confused why the courts were full and what was going on. I explained it was club play and if they wanted to play as a group they were welcome just sign the waiver and then claim a box on the whiteboard and play a game amongst themselves as part of the rotation of the club. But he was not interested in that. I told him when 12 o’clock came, we could clear out a court for him which they could just stay on and play. He was a bit rude about it and pointing out the sign and asking about what the rules were for how long we could have the courts. He was a bit aggressive, but I was kind and patient.

I thought everything was taken care of then about five or ten minutes later, he was being a bit of a jerk confronting Rick A. and Andrew McLeod asking for proof that the club had the courts actually reserved and we were not just claiming so. Basically, he was calling me a liar. I was very polite but I was secretly very irritated. I explained to him that he could check with the City of Santa Cruz and that we’ve had the courts reserved on Sundays for at least eight years! Right then, my game came up and so I had to walk away and leave this guy to the others.

I got into a game with Ted B. against Lisa (petite with an English accent) and Dan, the middle school teacher. I was very distracted and upset about that pushy guy who was being a butthead. Ted and I were down 8-0—not a surprise since Ted was the weakest player plus Dan was playing very well—I looked over and saw that that guy was on a court with his group. That was a relief. I could focus on the game a little more, but I was still annoyed. Ted and I scored five points to make it at least a little bit more respectable, but we did end up losing.

Time to Go

Andrew McLeod agreed to close up the courts for me. I left at 12 o’clock sharp and headed home to eat lunch then head to Willowbrook Park to teach my beginner class.

Monday, February 26, 2024 (No Play)

My back is a little sore today, but it’s not terrible.

Celebrity Injury

I missed this when it happened a few months ago, but 65-year-old famous actress Michelle Pfeiffer got hit in the eye while playing pickleball and got a nice shiner.
Here’s the People article:
Michelle’s Instagram post on December 1 about it:

New Orleans

I’ll be in Louisiana next month for a trade show. I reached out to Dale, a contact listed on the Places2Play website for New Orleans. This was for the Hilton New Orleans Riverside . . . four indoor courts, $15 fee. I’m not a fan of indoor courts, but it’s better than nothing. I doubt I’ll get to playing pickleball in every state in the USA, maybe I can start to make dent. California, New Mexico, North Carolina. (Plus Spain and Italy.)

Tuesday, February 27, 2024 (No Play)

My back is a still sore. But I may play at Skypark tonight.

New Backpack

As a USA Pickleball Ambassador and as a PPR Certified Coach, I do get some perks in the form of discounts from some pickleball manufacturers. Today, I ordered an Engage Players backpack (the biggest/priciest one they had in stock) and three overgrips from Engage. I’m going to see if I like their backpack more than the PBAW backpack that my family got me for Christmas. The PBAW has some very nice features such as a zipper sleeve on the side that’s perfect for storing 4 balls, a built-in hook to hang it on a chain link fence, sewn-in leash for keys, an assortment of pockets. I’m hoping for something with more pockets and more space, and maybe a bit heavier construction.

Comments from a Pro Tennis Player

We get a glimpse into Genie Bouchard’s thoughts about transitioning from tennis to pickleball and how it’s not as easy as most people believe:

PPR Lead

I got my first lead via email from the PPR website today. I reached out to the potential student with some background on me, hourly rate, and times that I am available.

Number of days on a court: 629
Number of total hours: 2,734
Number of paid coaching hours: 17

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

PIG Chase 2024 Soquel Tournament

Friday, February 23, 2024 (No Play)

Last night, laying in bed, the inside of my right knee was aching a bit. It was then that I realized that I hadn’t used my right knee brace yesterday drilling with Jason. Oops. Recovery from knee surgery from June is still dragging on. Or maybe that’s just the way my knee will be going forward. Time will tell.

The Bracket

René had sent me the bracket that Jason and I were in, and later, Jason also sent it to me. I took a screenshot to share here:

Out of the 12 players on the six other teams, I know 5: Dave Cox, John Pacholski, Dieter and Bruce, and Chris Yoder—the husband of Jennifer Watson, the tournament director for this event.

Saturday, February 24, 2024 (Court Day #628)

This PIG (“Pickleball is Great”) Chase tournament was supposed to be held at Cabrillo College but winds knocked over a fence on their courts recently, so the tournament was moved to Soquel High School. (We don’t have tornados here or particularly high winds, so I suspect some posts were corroding!) It’s been nearly a year and a half since my last tournament. My knee, and then knee surgery, put a damper on tournaments.

I got up, got ready, and downed three ibuprofen. As I drove through downtown to pick up Jason my car read 50°F. There were scattered clouds and it appeared that is going to be a very nice day.

I got to Jason’s house at 8:03 a.m.—almost on time—and he popped out his front door as soon as I parked in his driveway. A minute or two later, we were on our way.


As I pulled into the Soquel High School lot at about 8:15 a.m., I could see a bunch of players warming up. The tennis courts had orange plastic tape on the ground marking out temporary pickleball courts.

Jennifer Watson was manning the registration table with some help from Josh, the young tennis player who also plays pickleball—and he plays it very well, I might add!

It turned out that an 8th team had been added to our bracket. Dan Bliss and Steve Bachman, both locals. The more the merrier and that meant there’d be no byes . . . we wouldn’t have sit even longer periods between games.

Warm Up

Jason and I warmed up on a court. A couple of guys joined us, splitting the court, a guy named Jason from Gerber and Allan from Red Bluff. Now, that’s a trek . . . Red Bluff is about 4 hour drive without hitting traffic. They asked if we wanted to play a warm-up game. We did and our opponents were up a couple points when Jennifer called everyone. (Jason and Allan went on to win silver in their younger 4.0 bracket.)

Everyone collected at the gate area near the registration table for instructions and the playing of the National Anthem. We’d be playing games to 11, win by 2, and we’d be playing our Men’s 4.0, 53+ matches on courts 7, 8, 9, and 10. (There were 12 total courts.)

Game #1 (Court 8)

Our first game would be an extreme challenge. We’d be playing against Chris Yoder (4.5) and his friend Jim Somerville (4.5). I talked to Jim and he’s a high school tennis coach from Monterey who has known Chris for 25 years.

It started out well, Jason and I were surprisingly up 3-1 against Chris and his friend. Jim got me on a few rallies by driving hard at my backhand and me failing to handle the shots. I was a bit frustrated with that. We ended up losing 7-11. Considering their rating and the level of respect around for Chris’ skills, I wasn’t overly disappointed with the outcome. We wrapped up that game at 9:20 a.m.

Jason later said he was surprised that I was having trouble handling Jim’s drives as I’d done well with those previously when I was drilling with Jason. Something went off the rails. Dunno.

The view of courts #7-#12 after our first game.

Game #2 (Court 8)

The next game was against locals, Dieter and Bruce. Jason and I were leading 9-5, but then they started gaining on us. They started to lob over and over with us facing into the sun. Jason got very frustrated and threw the game ball over the fence and into the parking lot. He was not focused. We ended up losing 9-11. That was a major disappointment to lose when we were up by 4 points and let them go on a 6 point run. I have no problem with them using the sun as a weapon. We didn’t opt to do that, but it’s their choice and part of the game. There is no rule against it. Tournaments are cut-throat. We finished that game at 9:46 a.m.

Game #3 (Court 9)

Our next game was against John Pacholski and David Sullivan. I don’t know David, but I was expecting to win this game. We were up at least 7-0 before they scored any points. Jason and I did end up winning 11-3.  I played an error-free game. No mistakes.

Game #4 (Court 10)

Our next game was against Tom Ho and Joe Schertler from the Bay Area. Jason and I were ahead 3-0, but went on to lose 6-11. Joe was the better of the two players, but both were good. Joe had two really nice unexpected poaches in that game for winners. Hats off.

Game #5 (Court 10)

At 10:58 a.m., Jason got text about next game against David DeMateo and Brian Ford from Aromas. Brian is a lefty and they stacked. Jason and I were up 2-0, but got creamed 3-11. Once Brian and Dave got ahead in the game, it was never in doubt.

So far in the tournament, we had won just 1 and lost 4. It was not looking good for playoffs nor medals for us. I was starting to get fatigued and my back was tightening up.

Game #6 (Court 9)

Our next game was against local Dave Cox and Dave Merritt. When I aske, Dave M. said he’s from Seaside. They have a tennis club down there which now has pickleball. He said a 1-day pass is $10 . . . and that a month pass is only $20! (We all know which is the better deal for locals!)

This would be the only game of the day where we were not ever in the lead. They clearly were targeting Jason in this game. Dave Cox no doubt shared some strategy with his partner. We lost 3-11.

Game #7 (Court 9)

Our last game was against locals Dan Bliss and Steve Bachman. Unheard of, my first serve of the game was long. I wasn’t focused enough. But it wouldn’t make a difference. We went on to win 11-2.

The round robin was complete. With record of 2-5, there was no doubt in our minds that we were eliminated from any additional play.

Jason and I agreed in advance when signing up in 4.0 that we’d rather take our lumps and have good games than stay in 3.5 and win medals.


Jason and I stayed to watch the playoffs. It was only about 70 degrees, but with no shade, the sun was making it hot. Dieter’s team would play Dave Cox’s team for the bronze medal in a game to 15 on Court #9. Chris and Jim would be playing for the gold medal against Brian and Dave on Court #7 in the best of three games to 11.

Jason and I sat in chairs along the fence along the sideline of Court #7 and we could see Court #9 beyond which was right next to it.

At one point, I heard the score called by Dieter, “4-4-1”. Close game!

Chris and Jim were ahead, but Brian and Dave came back and won the first game. There was some nice playing going on. Brian politely warned Jim about stepping in the kitchen. Jason, me, and Brian’s wife Michelle did see Jim make 2-3 more kitchen violations, but as observers, we couldn’t say anything other than to each other.

There was a brief break between the games and Dieter and Bruce came over from their court. They had won bronze 15-12. And to think we had them down 9-6! Ah, well. That’s my only regret of the day.

The second game of the gold medal match began. Again, Chris and Jim went out ahead, but it was a close game and was soon 7-7. Brian and Dave stuck it out and won the game, the match, and the gold medal.

Jason and I gathered our things and headed out. But I made a stop by the busy registration table. “Jen . . . [eye contact] . . . thank you.” Organizers don’t get enough credit for their hard work.

Jason admitted in the car that his frustration had cost us the game against Dieter and Bruce. Jason is very competitive. Overly so at times.

At a little before 2 p.m., I dropped Jason off at his house and I then was off to take care of some work responsibilities.

Results had results posted on their website later. Jason and I ended up fifth out of eight teams by virtue of point differential.

And a complete breakdown of scores.

Jim and Chris, Dave and Brian, Bruce and Dieter. from our 4.0, 53+ bracket.

Binh and Shawnté finished 5th out of seven teams in their younger 4.0 bracket.

Matt Babb and Nicole Young took Gold in the 3.5 mixed. Yes, that’s 12 and 14 years old on the left!

This evening, I took a couple ibuprofen and iced my knee. I’ve got site coordinator duties at Derby Park tomorrow morning, followed by teach in Aptos.

Local Winners

Given it was a local tournament, we had a number of local players do well.

MEN’S Doubles Skill: (3.0) Age: (5 To 49)

– Mauricio Cuervo (Santa Cruz, CA) (Maurico lives in my neighborhood)
– Diego Paramio (Santa Cruz, CA)
– Samuel Udo (Santa Cruz, CA)
– Joseph Axisa (Santa Cruz, CA)

MEN’S Doubles Skill: (3.0) Age: (50+)

– Piero Lorenzo (Aptos, CA)
– Gene Gutierrez (Aptos, CA)
– Rich Wilson (Corralitos, CA)
– Sean McElhaney (Aptos, CA)
– Dexter Marr (Fresno, CA)
– Mike Leffler (Santa Cruz, CA)

MEN’S Doubles Skill: (3.5) Age: (35 And Above)

– Heyward Robinson (Aptos, CA)
– John Simmons (Aptos, CA)
– Stoehr Sukachevin (Soquel, CA)
– Jon Atterbury (Santa Cruz, CA)

MEN’S Doubles Skill: (3.5) Age: (5 To 34)

– Antonio Ruiz (Watsonville, CA)
– Freddy Ruiz (Aptos, CA)

MEN’S Doubles Skill: (4.0+) Age: (53+) (This was my bracket)
– Dieter Rothmeier (Capitola, CA)
– Bruce Bostock (Aptos, CA)

MIXED Doubles Skill: (3.0) Age: (5 To 54)

– Melissa Finsthwait (Scotts Valley, CA)
– Spencer Edwards (Santa Cruz, CA)
– Brianna Bemel (Scotts Valley, CA)
– Max Montgomery (Santa Cruz, CA)
– Yesenia Cardona-Muller (Santa Cruz, CA)
– Diego Paramio (Santa Cruz, CA)

MIXED Doubles Skill: (3.0) Age: (55 To 60)

– Alexandra Norris (San Jose, CA)
– Gene Gutierrez (Aptos, CA)
– Lacie Bowers (Watsonville, CA)
– Ron Whittle (Scotts Valley, CA)
– Melisa Schwarm (Santa Cruz, CA)
– Sean McElhaney (Aptos, CA)

MIXED Doubles Skill: (3.0) Age: (61 And Above)

– Karen Wilson (Corralitos, CA)
– Rich Wilson (Corralitos, CA)
– Ellen Glasgow (Santa Cruz, CA)
– Kip Scott (Santa Cruz, CA)
– Julie Montague (Aptos, CA)
– Freddy Ruiz (Aptos, CA)

MIXED Doubles Skill: (3.5) Age: (5 To 49)

– Nicole Young (Santa Cruz, CA)
– Matthew Babb (Scotts Valley, CA)

MIXED Doubles Skill: (4.0+)
– Rene’ Baker (Los Altos, CA)
– Nathan Fort (Hollister, CA)
– Cassidy Sears (Sacramento, CA)
– Shawnte Hagen (Santa Cruz, CA)
– Jackie Signor (Ben Lomond, CA)
Dieter Rothmeier (Capitola, CA)

WOMEN’S Doubles Skill: (3.0) Age: (5 To 54)

– Brianna Bemel (Scotts Valley, CA)
– Maria Rimbe (Santa Cruz, CA)

WOMEN’S Doubles Skill: (3.0) Age: (55 And Above)

– Lacie Bowers (watsonville, CA)
– Monica Lee (Capitola, CA)
– Karen Wilson (Corralitos, CA)
– Robin Hopkins (Watsonville, CA)
– Melisa Schwarm (Santa Cruz, CA)
– Ellen Glasgow (Santa Cruz, CA)

WOMEN’S Doubles Skill: (3.5+)

– Hui Lancaster (Aptos, CA)
– Robin Davis (Aptos, CA)

That’s René on the right. Probably happy about her gold medal!

Number of days on a court: 628
Number of total hours: 2,731
Number of paid coaching hours: 15.5

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

Drilling with Jason in SV

Thursday, February 22, 2024 (Court Day #627)

When I reached out to Jason a few days ago about playing this week in advance of Saturday’s tournament, he suggested drilling at Skypark this afternoon. I agreed.

Shortly after 3 o’clock, I left work and headed to Scotts Valley to meet up with Jason. It was a beautiful sunny day in the mid 60s. With blue skies and barely a cloud to be seen except for some puffy ones floating on the horizon. There is some rain predicted in the next few days but hopefully it won’t impact the tournament in two days or my pickleball class on Sunday.

I pulled into Skypark’s parking lot and walked in. There were three people on one court and then another two people on another court playing pickleball. Jason was drilling with a guy who is about to head out. The tennis courts had a doubles game going on one of the two.

Jason (with his long socks) drilling with a guy while waiting for me to arrive.

Jason and I worked on crosscourt dinking, working our way up from the transition zone, and some straight-ahead dinking. We worked on that for about an hour and 15 minutes until about 4:40 p.m. Ying show up then we continued to work on the soft game with me dinking against Jason and Ying. Any ball that came up high would get driven hard so they were fire fights too.

At about 4:45 p.m. Nate showed up and then he dinked with Ying and I dinked with Jason for a couple more minutes and then we decided to have a game.


We played against Nate and Ying. Early on, Jason went for an Erne, jumping to his left to try to attack a ball going to Ying. However, he jumped too soon and telegraphed the play and Ying hit the ball between myself and Jason for winner. By the time I realize that Jason was going for Erne I didn’t have enough time to cover the space. I told him if he did that during the tournament he would owe me a beer!

There was one shot while we were all at the net with Jason left and me on the right. Nate was across from me diagonally and hit the ball between Jason and me. Court positioning. I left too much space. I needed to close the middle more.

It was a pretty close back-and-forth game until Jason made four or five mistakes in a row and then we were down 5-8. I was playing pretty well. We tightened up the score until was 9-10. We were down by one point. In the midst of a rally at the net, I managed to get Nate to pop a ball up in the middle then I got set and slammed the ball… tight into the white tape of the net. Such a disappointment! Nate kidded, “You won’t get another one like that!” They ended up scoring another point and took the game 11-9. Nate has really nice serves though I can handle them just fine. He has pace, depth, and spin.

At 5:10 p.m., it was time to go. The courts were filling up with players out to have fun, but I had Santa Cruz Art league duties as a board member—there was a teacher meeting to be in.

Wrap Up

My big take away from me today is doing a better job leaning into the kitchen and taking balls out of the air even if they’re awkward. That is definitely better than the ball landing right in front of my toes and me trying to take it as a half valley with little to no margin for error. I was finding that my shots were ending up in my side of the net for those. So, out of the air. It was a bad habit that I slipped into.

I felt I played pretty well, I actually happy. If I play like that during the tournament I’ll be pleased with myself, even if we don’t win a medal.

I spent the evening basking in the glow of good play. I was delighted with how I played. I got all my serves in and one was returned by Nate into the net. I successfully returned all the serves in the game. I didn’t hit any shots into the net except that overhead when I got too excited.

On the downside, my back is still sore and tight. I this is shaping up to maybe take maybe months and not weeks to get back to normal.

Number of days on a court: 627
Number of total hours: 2,728
Number of paid coaching hours: 15.5

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

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