Adventures of Andrew Lenz and a Yellow Ball

Month: April 2024 (Page 1 of 4)

Hugh is Back! Trip to LV Coming.

Sunday, April 28, 2024 (Court Day #651)

About a month ago, Yesenia a.ka. “Jessie” had posted on the Facebook group about today being a “swap day” at Derby Park so players could sell or exchange pickleball gear that they no longer wanted. The only thing is, today was the day of the Moneyball tournament at Skypark, so Jessie and others are at Skypark instead. Regardless, I brought two backpacks and a pickleball paddle protective case with a shoulder strap to sell. Using Adobe InDesign, I made up information sheets about the items which I taped to the plastic that they were in. They are all new, they just weren’t exactly what I wanted after I ordered them. I brought those today.

It was a beautiful sunny day today.

Derby Park

I arrived to Derby Park at 8:50 a.m. and got about the setting things up, and blowing off the courts. Val and her husband Stan very kindly set up the one needed portable net.

Especially with a tournament, today was not that great as far as getting strong games. The bright spot was when Hugh arrived. I hadn’t seen him for months.

With Hugh, you have to be very careful about your shots. If you leave them up just a little bit too high, he will take full advantage and make the ball very hard to return. He was great for crosscourt shots as well as drives that hug the sideline. He just needs to be more consistent. Hugh and I were the best players there today out of the 40 or so who came.

My back was tight, I stretched it out while sitting on the bench waiting for a game.

The last game was Hugh and myself against Charles and Ted. Now, this is a different Charles, a local regular, but not the really tall Charles. Hugh and I won, as expected, and the game finished up at 12:02 p.m.

It was time for me to go especially since I needed to get home on time so I could shower because, with a family event at 4 p.m., I wouldn’t have time for that after teaching. I took down the dry erase board, collected the donation money, put the balls away, put away the tote bag containing the waiver sheets, and took down the only portable net and stowed it. I was in my car by 12:15 p.m.

By the end of the session none of my items had sold, so I gathered them up and took them back home.

I continue to be very jealous of the players who can go to Brommer Park and play. Being the best player or one of the two best players, it’s not all that it’s cracked up to be. It can be kind of boring. The rallies just don’t last very long.


At 12:45. I was on my way to Aptos to teach. This would be my final class with this group. With all the delays—rain, road closures—we only got three classes instead of four, so I’ll have to cover a little bit more material in a shorter time.

I was expecting seven students. I had asked early on for the students to let me know if they couldn’t make it, but I ended up with just four. It worked out, but still I couldn’t help but think, “Am I a bad teacher? Do they not think it’s worth their time to come?” But Susana was a good balance to my inner insecurity voice, telling me that I’m an great instructor and she’s looking forward to taking more classes with me.

Next month will be my last session at Willowbrook, then I move to Skypark in Scotts Valley in June. I will say, I won’t miss this every Sunday driving back to Santa Cruz after class…

My knee was mildly aching. I should have iced it in the evening, but it slipped my mind.

Monday, April 29, 2024 (No Play)

With traveling to Las Vegas in June for work, I want to get out and play there. I had reached out to the USA Pickleball ambassador for that ZIP code, but I got no response. Places2Play listed the Plaza Hotel as having play so I reached out to them as it said, but also got no response. I decided to use Facebook instead. On Friday, I joined the Las Vegas Pickleball group and made a post but it was denied by the moderator. The good news is that the moderator, Sheryl, reached out to me a few days ago and asked my skill level. I told her 4.0 and she said I should go to Sunset Park…

Unfortunately, I’ll be traveling or working in the mornings, so evening it will have to be. She did reply that good players come in the evenings too.

Sunset Park. Quite the amazing complex!

Posted in the Las Vegas Sunset Pickleballerz group was this video, which I think is helpful.

I think we should do something like this for the SCPC venues—though probably without the game video at the end!

Number of days on a court: 651
Number of total hours: 2,794
Number of paid coaching hours: 31.5

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

Rec Launch at Skypark

Thursday, April 25, 2024 (Court Day #650)

I was out walking the dog today and once again took the USA Pickleball Player Rules Test. After over a dozen attempts, I finally got 100%! I’ll admit there were two questions that I wasn’t totally confident in my answer, but still a milestone!


Today, I was hired by Rec to do a clinic for beginning players at their afternoon launch event. They hired a different instructor to coach serving in tennis. I was supposed to start teaching at 5 o’clock. I left work and arrived at Skypark about 20-30 minutes early. When I got there, there was a pop-up tent with a couple long tables set up, there were roughly 30 people milling around and talking in little groups. I spotted Mike from Rec behind one of the tables—he had a laptop in front of him and was answering questions. I caught his eye and let him know that I was there. He stopped for a second to let me know that we’d likely be starting late.

Ten minutes after I arrived, they started their presentation. Allison, the head of Parks & Rec for the City of Scott Valley, started talking explaining her role and that she was trying to balance the desires of the pickleball players as well as the neighborhood around the courts. There were a couple of pickleball women who were interrupting with contrary comments or pointed questions. I found it kind of rude. At least let them finish talking first, people! I know I certainly want wouldn’t want someone behaving like that if I was speaking to a group. When she was done speaking, she turned it over to Mike of Rec then Mike’s coworker who did his best answer questions and respond to criticisms. They were all very professional. The only moment of apparent frustration was when Allison broke from her answer to someone to tell another person to please let her finish first. I don’t blame her.


Mike wanted to get the clinics going. A woman appeared saying that she was there for my clinic. Her name was Michelle. She said she wasn’t actually a beginner—which is what Rec wanted me to teach—but she was the only one, so we could do whatever Michelle wanted.

As Michelle and I were about to start, a local woman, a certified referee, came over and started grilling me about—as an instructor now—how I was teaching the non-volley zone to my students. I was confused. I had no idea what she was getting at. “That it’s a 2-dimensional space?” I then remembered that I meant to share with her that I got 100% on the player rules test this morning and I did. She just looked at me and told me that doesn’t mean I teach correctly. I can see that in the context, she thought I was defending my knowledge, but I was just sharing my milestone. We went back and forth a bit as I tried to understand what she was after. Eventually, it sounded like she wanted to make sure that I emphasize that players can be in the NVZ whenever they want as long as they are not volleying and that they should go in early if they know the ball is going to bounce in the NVZ. That’s pickleball 101. Yes, I teach that. Every time. In detail. She certainly meant well, but I did feel a touch insulted.

Michelle and I got to work on her dinking and I did my best to kind of correct her form. She was using way too much wrist on her dinks and she was also doing a sidearm motion . . . neither which are good for dinking. And since someone had once said something to her about her serve, she also wanted to know if it was illegal or not. I asked her to do a serve and it seemed fine, if a bit close. Then I recorded her with my iPhone in slow motion and then showed it to her pointing out why her serve was legal. We worked on dinking for a little bit longer and then got into a game with her and a couple of relative newbies. I gave them all a few tips and pointers during the game . . . like trusting your partner and positioning oneself on the court correctly. But just a few, I don’t want to overwhelm people with too many things to adjust.

Standard Games

When we finished that instructional game about 6 p.m., I figured I’d fulfilled my 45-minute obligation to teach and moved on to games for me instead. Mike and his coworker stayed and played a few games before heading back to the Bay Area.

Francis and Mark Dettle on the far side facing off against Larry “Lars” and Mike from Rec.

I got into one unmemorable game . . . honesty, typing this two days later, I haven’t the foggiest recollection. Normally, I compose these entries the same day, but not this time.

I spent a good chunk of the evening playing with or against David and Minori with a mix of other players. Ofer and some others. For the most part, it was an evening of challenging games.

I felt overall pretty good about my play. There was a little dip in performance at sunset, but I managed.

The lights clicked off a few minutes after 9:30 p.m. Soon, according to the new city policy, it’ll be 8:30 p.m. for Monday through Thursday and only 9:30 on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights.

When I checked my phone, I had 44 text messages! Family (my parents and siblings) text thread, work, wife, etc. Ugh.

Saturday, April 27, 2024 (No Play)

My right knee is bothering me a bit and my lower back is bugging me some too. Sheesh.

Number of days on a court: 650
Number of total hours: 2,794
Number of paid coaching hours: 30

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

Chaminade Workshop

Tuesday, April 23, 2024 (Court Day #649)

Today, I was teaching at Chaminade. A woman, Aleksandra, had reached out to me on Facebook asking if I would be willing to teach beginners for her company during a recreational break during their corporate retreat. I debated, then said I would. They hired me for 1 to 3 p.m.


I arrived at Chaminade Resort at 12:47 p.m. and texted Aleksandra as requested. Even growing up locally, I’d never been up there, though I know it had at one time been occupied by a religious order and it was named after a Catholic priest. Having prepared via Google Maps, I easily found the tennis courts, which were completely empty. Aleksandra told me that they needed pickleball courts taped out so I had told her to bring blue painter’s tape. (The ideal line width is 2″, but I told her to bring cheaper 1 1/2″ but at least 1″ . . . it’s not a tournament!) I immediately got to work marking out the court dimensions with a pencil. Aleksandra appeared in short order and said that she was going to have someone come help me. Woman named Kim soon appeared and I asked her help hold the end of measuring tape while I marked things out. It wasn’t too long before I realized my quickly-wearing pencil was not going to last so I asked Kim if she could go find some more pencils for me. About five minutes later, a little out of breath, she helpfully returned with a box of chalk. Perfect.


I was supposed to instruct eight students, however, when we started, there were only seven. After about 5 minutes, two decided that they wanted to just hit a ball back-and-forth so walked over to the second court across the tennis net that I had taped out. That left five students. I couldn’t help but think, “Am I a bad teacher? Why are they leaving?”

I talked the remaining students through some basics and then we got to dinking then soft drives to get used to the characteristics of the ball. Then one, Julianne, explained that her back was hurting and that she couldn’t continue. That left four pupils.

Core Group

The good news is that the four that were left were very much interested in learning: Lena, Clarissa, Ann, and Prudence. I put them through a short series of drills, including serving, then serving and returning. It was getting quite breezy, with the net even threatening to tip over at times!

I got them into a game. Each had their strengths and weaknesses but they all enjoyed playing. Lena had a particularly hard time with grasping the scoring, that’s not too abnormal, but she had Clarissa—who pick up on it quickly—as her partner to help. But then Clarissa would hit the ball hard too hard and it’d fly out and rely on Lena to keep rallies going. I got them through two full games, stopping the game as needed to explain and correct things.

At 3:05 p.m., it was time for them to get back and be ready for their 3:15 p.m. restart. They thanked me and Prudence told me that I was a good instructor. It’s not the first time I’ve heard that from a student, but it’s still always nice to hear.

About to return to a tennis court state….

For the next 20 to 30 minutes, I was taking down the two portable nets and pulling the blue tape off the courts. I have to say there’s a part of me that was bummed that I had to pull the tape back up considering how much work it was been to put them down accurately in the first place!

Then it was back to work, where I changed back into work clothes in the bathroom, then started earning my keep again!


My box arrived from Gearbox this morning at work. It sat in my office unopened as I didn’t have time. But I wanted to try out my new paddle tonight. I carefully cut off the heavy paper packaging off the paddle, then put it all back into the box which I carried to the back of my car.


My wife had texted late this afternoon asking if I would be heading to Scotts Valley to play—with her blessing. With teaching today, I hadn’t thought about it. I did have all of my gear, so I told her that I would.

Just before 6:30 p.m., I was done with work for the day and on my way to Skypark.


As I was turning onto the street with the court at the end, there were two guys with pickleball gear, one of which I recognized, walking towards the courts. I slowed down and rolled down my passenger side window and asked “You guys had to park down the street? “ He replied, “Yeah, it’s super busy.“ I voiced my discontent, but since the courts were only another four houses down, I might as well circle through the lot. And with a little bit of luck, apparently someone had just left, so I pulled right into the parking spot next to the courts. It was very convenient. The two guys walked by, “Figures that everyone is leaving now!” A second car pulled out and drove away just then.

It was 6:38 p.m. and it was still pretty light, but overcast and chilly, clocking in at 57°F. It has been chilly and—as I mentioned—very breezy this afternoon. It wasn’t windy tonight, fortunately.

New Paddle

I got out my new Gearbox Pro Power Elongated paddle and peeled the plastic shrink wrap off of the handle. That was all that was left of the packaging I had removed right before I left work.

Larry and some others were eyeing my paddle. Spencer said, “You’ll either love it or hate it.” It’s true, there hasn’t been much in terms of interference from people lately.


My first game was with Larry against Rachel and Paulie. Initially, it was close, then Larry and I walked away with an 11-5 win.

Rachel and I played a game against Ofer and Larry. It was hard to stay in the game with Rachel making a lot of errors. She apologized but started to play better. We were down 1-10 and came back to almost win, losing 9-11. So close.


I played a few games with Tim F. against Matt and Paul. I really enjoy playing with Tim. He’s got such a positive attitude. Those were fun games. I’ve really got to be more aware of balls that would fly out if I let them. I’d say that’s my #1 weakness …hitting “out balls”. Tim was very polite, but I could tell that he wasn’t thrilled with me doing that—and he did comment a couple of times, like, “That one would have hit the fence!” It was all in good spirits however. But it wasn’t all bad, Tim pointed at me with his paddle after one hand battle and said “Nice play!”


Tim had been playing for a while today and said he was done for the night. We got David to take over for him. (David brought Minori tonight, though I didn’t get a game with her.)

By 8:50 p.m., there were four empty courts. People cleared out early.

David and I went on to play four or five games together against Matt and Paul, and they won the first one, but then David and I went to win the next three or four games.

In those later games, Paul was having a hard time returning my serves. After one game ended, he stopped and told me, “Your serves come in low and stay low and even with my putting my paddle down, I still couldn’t get them back.” There were at least three—maybe as many as six—serves over the course of those games that he returned my serves into the net.

We finished about 9:25 p.m., then took down the one portable net that someone had left up.


I have to say, I really love this new Gearbox paddle. I was expecting to not like it but with my style of game, this new Gearbox “gen 3” carbon fiber paddle is a good fit. There were a number of drops that I felt were successful that may not have been with my Rogue 2 paddle. The Gearbox sounds different too. I’d hit and instead of a clicking sound, the sound more resembles a thud. A little quieter.

Sure, in the first few games, there were some shots that I was hitting too hard, past the baseline, but then I started getting things dialed in.

I’m going to have to customize the paddle, beef up the handle, maybe a little bit of lead tape, and put on the protective edging tape.


I felt happy about my play tonight—that’s a rarity for me playing under lights.


My back is often tight when I get up in the morning, and can get tired, but it never bothers me in games. (Ok, there was those two times when I strained my back on the court, but that was years ago now.) But tonight, after running for an angled ball, I was returned to the the baseline and my back was complaining a little bit. Very unusual. It wasn’t crippling and seems to subside, but still a bit worrisome.

Wednesday, April 24, 2024 (No Play)

It’s odd. My leg muscles are sore. Sunday was a bust as far as strong games at Derby. And I just played my normal 2-3 hours at Skypark last night. Nothing unusual. It’s curious.

Another Trip

I’m going to be in Las Vegas for a trade show in June. I reached out today to the USA Pickleball Ambassador for that ZIP code, a woman named Jennifer. I also looked on Places2Play and it says that the Plaza Hotel has pickleball and to email them for information, so I did that today as well. Hopefully, someone will get back to me.

Number of days on a court: 649
Number of total hours: 2,790
Number of paid coaching hours: 29

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

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