Adventures of Andrew Lenz and a Yellow Ball

Month: March 2024 (Page 1 of 4)

New Orleans!

Sunday, March 24, 2024 (Court Day #641)

I’m in New Orleans for a trade show for the next few days, I don’t have any free time once it starts in earnest this afternoon. I’d done some reconnaissance a month ago and found a place to play that I could squeeze in. I had used the Places2Play app to reach out to a venue near to my hotel. I had exchanged emails with someone named Dale . . . I wasn’t sure if it was a man or a woman.

I left my hotel a little bit before 9 a.m. and started walking towards the Hilton Riverside Hotel. It was a fairly quick walk, it was only about five or six blocks.

Navigating the Hotel

When I arrived to the hotel, I inquired with the doorman “I hear that there is a gym here with pickleball courts, can you tell me where those are?“ With a smile, he told me to go through the lobby and take the elevator to the second floor. Once on the second floor, walk down the hallway and take a second elevator to the sixth floor. Ok.

I followed his instructions, but when I got to the second elevator, the group that was there between me and the controls said the elevator only went to the fifth floor. Since I couldn’t see the buttons, I had to trust them. Up we went. When they got out, I also got out and followed them up the stairs to the sixth floor. There was a man scanning mobile phone codes outside of the door to a gym that was full of screaming girls. There is some kind of volleyball tournament that was going on. I asked the man at the door about pickleball courts and he said that he did didn’t know much about that and I should go to the front desk down the hallway and ask there.

I found the front desk and asked the woman about pickleball. She asked me if I was a guest at the hotel and I told her no. She had me charge a $10.95 fee onto my credit card. She then kindly pointed to the door labeled with a big number “4”.


The door opened up a on a thick vinyl cloth blocking the view of anything. I found a seam and walked through and found a tennis court that had been taped off with four pickleball courts in a very large gym space. Between us and all the screaming girls was just a large mesh screen to keep the balls in their respective spaces.

There was a man and a woman sitting on a row of folding chairs next to the nearside court. I walked up and said I was visiting and asked for Dale. The man, Craig, smiled and said “Oh, you don’t want to talk to Dale. He’s crazy.” Of course, having never met Dale, I wasn’t quite sure to make his warning other than to assume that he was teasing Dale.

Next to Craig was a woman named Sharon who Craig introduced me to.

Three courts in use and hundreds of screaming young girls nearby.


My first game was with Craig against Sharon and Douglas. Douglas, young African-American gentleman, a 4.0 player who I later learned that he had just entered his first 4.0 tournament and had a similar experience to me. (Yeah, no medals!) Craig and I were down initially in that game, but came back to win.

When I talked to Douglas later, I said the thing with 4.0, is all the balls come back. You hit what you think is a winner, but the ball still comes back over the net.

My second game was with Douglas against Brittany and Billy. Sharon told me that Brittany is a good player. I think she’s a 4.0  She was also very nice. Douglas and I won that game. After we started scoring points, the result was never in doubt. I think it was 8-0 before they scored any points.

Later, Craig introduced me to a woman named Charlotte and he told her that I was a good player. Then he added, “For an East Coast player, he’s good. For West Coast player, he’s so-so.” I like Craig, he’s got a good sense of humor! Charlotte turned out to be the most accurate lobbers that I’ve ever seen. She’d hit balls to within a foot of the baseline and many of them were winners.

I met a man named Billy who is also a local, and he’s an oil painter. Being that my job is selling art materials, you got to talking a bit about supplies for painting. I gave him my card telling him to visit if he ever got to my area of California.

A man named Jay and I played a game against the man named John and another fellow named Britt. All three of them are in their 60s. They’re all decent players, I would say slightly above average compared to players in my area.

It was quite humid in the gym. I noticed it later in the session I went to serve. I had a new experience of several drips of sweat sailing into the air trailing the ball when I served!

About 10:45, a man named JT arrived. JT is from Austin, Texas. I played in his first game. While warming him up, from how he was hitting his dinks I could tell he was special. I asked him “Are you a 4.0? Or 5.0?” He smiled and replied, “5.0.” That makes sense. It’s funny what you can sometimes tell from simply warming up at the net with someone.

JT has one of the best serves that I’ve gone up against. One local in town, Adrian, is probably the closest, but not nearly as consistent as JT. I’d love to play against JT regularly, he’s a step up for sure.

Heading Out

By the time 11:45 a.m. rolled around, most of the players were gone, but Douglas and two younger players were on a court. I walked over and asked, “Can I join your game or are you waiting for a fourth?“ Douglas said that his buddy was there and pointed over to another young fellow. I thanked Douglas for the games and collected my things to go. Vicky bid the rest of us farewell and walked out, leaving me with Charlotte and John. John said that some number of months ago he’d had a heart attack right here on the courts. He was rushed to the hospital, and they installed a stent in an artery. He said the condition was called the “widow maker.” He joked that he’s not married so it didn’t really apply to him. He said that within 19 days of the procedure he was back out on a court playing. That’s dedication!

John, Charlotte, and I left the gym. Out by the desk, I told John that I might see him again in November. I have a smaller distributor art materials show that takes place in the fall every year in New Orleans.

I left the gym and headed back to my hotel on Canal Street.

Today was another lesson about not judging players by their age or gender. All the players today that I met were all at least strong 3.0 players and perhaps even 3.5 level players.

Monday, March 25, 2024 (No Play)

I bumped into Andrew C., a sales rep friend, at the trade show. He shared a photo that he took in Target, figuring that he’d see me.

Yes, that’s decorative pickleball paddles in the women’s section!

Tuesday, March 26, 2024 (No Play)

This popped up on in my YouTube suggested videos:

Fun when our little—not so little anymore!—sport appears in on a popular YouTube channel. Not thing earth shattering in the video, but worth a quick watch at 1.25x speed!

Tomorrow, later afternoon, I’ll be flying back to California.

Thursday, March 28, 2024 (No Play)

My new Klitch Shoe Clip showed up today. It gives me some flexibility for carrying shoes—or extra shoes—to rec or tournament play.

Saturday, March 30, 2024 (No Play)

Shock of shocks! My wife is taking my May pickleball class. “The only reason I’m doing it is my friends are taking your class.” All it took was for several of her teacher buddies to sign up and now she’s in too! I never imagined that she’d sign up for my class. It’s kind of funny that our household paid to take a class that the household is getting paid to teach.

Number of days on a court: 641
Number of total hours: 2,762.5
Number of paid coaching hours: 24.5

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

Great Day at Brommer & Radio

Friday, March 22, 2024 (Court Day #640)

It was a chilly morning, overcast and 54°F. I fly out early tomorrow morning to head to New Orleans for a trade show and won’t be back until late Wednesday night.

Tennis Elbow?

I’ve been playing more in the last two weeks than I have played in a two weeks period in the past nine months. That is helping me regain my skills. A bit concerning, however, is I have very slight tennis elbow symptoms with very slight soreness in my forearm plus a little bit of soreness when I make certain motions where the two bones meet at my elbow. Hopefully, that won’t develop into anything more serious.


I left my house at 8:50 a.m., after checking in for my Southwest Airlines flight. Southwest has open boarding, so the earliest you can check in, the better. Even checking in within 30 seconds of the start time, I completely missed the “A group” and end up being assigned B-35. I should still get a reasonable seat with that though.


This morning at Brommer Park, it was club play, so it was very organized however I wasn’t be able to stay for the whole session. I had to get home and shower, run my mother-in-law—who is in town—to a tax appointment, and then I had to get out near 41st Avenue for a radio interview on the Think Local First program . . . it’s a chance to promote our family business for free.

Warm Up

When I arrived only half of the courts were full so I warmed up with a regular named Mike T. who sports a white beard. Mike solid 3.5 level player.

During my warm-up with Mike, I was hitting a lot of my drop shots into the white tape. I have some work to do on that. I need to think about where I want the ball to land, not what the ball has to clear or I need to think about a space a foot above the net instead of the net itself. The good news is I nailed—by far—most of my drop shots in actual games.


Mike and I played game against Patty and Gregg, the left-handed player. Well, Patty and Gregg came back to make a game of it, Mike and I still won. Gregg was the weakest player and I was playing very well.

After the first game when Mike and I beat Patty and Gregg, when it came time to sign up for our next game, Patty said “I want to play with you. You know how to play the game.“ That was a nice compliment. She is saying that my game is not one dimensional, She’s complaining about some players: drive, drive, lob. Drive, drive, lob. Drive, drive, lob. And they have no soft game. My game is well-rounded.


There were some long waits today and court time was at a premium. The clouds are burned off and it got to be pretty nice. The rain was expected later today.

I got into a game with Patty against Leslie and Dan Bliss. This was an all OG game. I definitely wanted to play well in this game—honestly, I felt little anxious—and I did. Patty and I won handily.

My last game of the day was also with Leslie and Dan. We had signed up in blue. My partner would be Mike T. who also signed up in blue. I was a bit surprised if he had done that but that would be the game. (Maybe Mike was having an off day, I don’t play with him enough to know.) Mike was the weakest player on the court. Leslie and Dan won pretty easily but I played well and they complimented my play after the game.

I did miss one of my serves today, but for that one serve that I missed, I had four or five that were returned by the receivers into the net.

I got to my backpack after the last game and checked the time. 11:06 a.m. It was time to boogie.


I got home, showered, dropped my mother-in-law at her appointment, then I headed out to the studio for the SantaCruzVoice‘s Think Local First radio show. The show features local businesses which are members of Think Local First, a local collective that promotes supporting independent local shops.

The show was originally on KSCO, but when the owner laid off nearly all their staff in favor of mostly syndicated programming, the now-unemployed crew started their own internet radio station. I don’t know their listenership, but appearing on the program is low cost—just my time and gas—and I’m comfortable in a radio studio (I’ve been interviewed maybe half a dozen times on various programs), so there wasn’t much to lose.

While the program went live at 1:06 p.m., I was there about 15-20 minutes early and I ended up sharing thoughts on air while Susan O’Connor Fraser and her husband wrapped up their previous program, Noon Balloon – Eat. Drink. And Be Local. They were talking about the Giant Dipper roller coaster at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and I told them that my uncle had designed the coaster’s sign that’s been hanging there for many decades. And that my great-grandfather had done the concrete work for the carousel there as well. Then we went into the break—national news time and ads.

My view from the radio studio. Not as fancy as KSCO, but does the job!

I felt the nearly hour-long show went really well. It certainly went quickly. Afterward, we said our goodbyes and I made my way to “work work”!

Number of days on a court: 640
Number of total hours: 2,760
Number of paid coaching hours: 24.5

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

Still Gaining at Skypark

Tuesday, March 19, 2024 (Court Day #639)

I realized that while out walking our younger corgi, Pepper, that I could take the USA Pickleball player rules test again on my phone at the same time or simultaneously, if you prefer! Sooner or later, I’ll get every question right. But this time, I got 88%. Invariably, there is one that I read incorrectly, plus others that are specific to tournaments such as technical warnings, how long before no-shows are forfeited, etc.

Coaching Validation!

One of my current students, Susana, came into my work today as a customer. She said that she just got back from Panama this morning so that’s why she missed the first class on Sunday. But her husband did attend. She said that the two of them had taken another class from one (non-Rec) instructor and a single private lesson from another coach, but her husband told her that I was “amazing”. She also commented on the long email with information I had sent out about where to get paddles and appropriate shoes locally, some videos on scoring, information about the local pickleball club, etc. Susana said none of their prior coaches had done that. My goal is to give my students an experience that I’d like to have myself.


As I drove to Skypark, I had two concerns. Immediate one was where I would be forced to park. The second one was whether I could start fast or would it take me a number of games to dial in my play. I’ve been playing better the last week, so I hope that I can gear up quickly.

Arrived a few minutes before 7 p.m. and apparently recently someone just left because there was a parking spot right next to the wooden fence which I quickly gobbled up.

Once on the course, someone had the sign-up board hung on the chain link fence which is really good because it was needed!

It was a comfortable night. You couldn’t see your breath at all. And it was very busy. I was talking to Paul W. and he said he counted 20 people waiting and with 32 on the courts—that’s 52 people out playing tonight. Yes, Pickleball continues to grow! There is at least a dozen students there from UCSC and some of them were from a Christian club on campus.

I was playing very well. During one game when we were partnered together, Lester complimented me, “Maybe I should take your class!”

I feel like I’m continuing to play better and better. I will say that tonight I didn’t get to play against a full complement of good players. Nonetheless, there were shots that I got, where I kind of amazed myself. Aside from one game towards the end of the evening, I felt I played pretty well.

Even though I wasn’t hungry at all, I ate a protein bar right after closing time at work. I think I really helped me out as I had more energy through the session and wasn’t dragging at the end.

I missed two of my serves tonight, one was the hair long, and for the other one the receiver’s partner was dancing around at the kitchen line. It’s kind of silly, but I proved to be enough of distraction that I hit the ball into the net.

I walked off the court after my last game, and I asked one of the UCSC students who was sitting on the bench and looking at his phone what time it was. He told me “9:30”. I didn’t believe him. It didn’t seem anything like 9:30. I would’ve figured between 8:30 and 8:45, but he showed me a phone. Sure enough, it was indeed 9:30 p.m.! While it wasn’t technically my responsibility, I immediately got to work putting away some of the unused portable nets. I got the nets stowed and locked up the bin then said my goodbyes and headed home.

Wednesday, March 20, 2024 (No Play)

So this image popped up on in my YouTube suggested videos:

With “pickleball” in the description, I had to watch the entire interview, linked here:

While they did touch on pickleball briefly in the interview, there was no reference to his “love of pickleball”. There is this note on the video however:
“NOTE: A portion of this video has been trimmed due to broadcast rights.”

Mystery Person

My daughter doesn’t like me to post anything about her on social media. I won’t tell you who this person is, but she listed “pickleball” as part of her hobbies…

Thursday, March 21, 2024 (No Play)

I went ahead and ordered a Klitch shoe clip today. $14.99 with free shipping. It’ll allow me to clip my shoes to my backpack instead of having to carry them separately . . . much more convenient!

Number of days on a court: 639
Number of total hours: 2,758
Number of paid coaching hours: 24.5

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

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