Monday, May 27, 2024 (Court Day #666)

I had dilemmas this morning. All of them really good problems they have. Play or not play? Go to club play at Brommer Park and face long waiting times, but it has organized play? Or go to Derby Park and face an unknown group of players in terms of size and skill and with no organization?

At 9:40 a.m., I was in the car and on my way to Derby Park under cloudy skies and 54°F temperatures. I was sitting there, driving, knowing that I wouldn’t be able to stay for a long period of time since I had to come home and eat lunch in time and be on the road to San Carlos by 12:45 p.m. to meet up with my sister-in-law Liz.


As I walked in, some games were going on but at least a couple of courts were empty.

Rick Arnold was at the far end in a game with Tiffany and two men I didn’t know. Rick is always good for a strong game.

I warmed up with barefoot Terry and regular whose name escapes me. Maybe Judy? After about 10 minutes, Rick called over, “We’re ready for you, Andrew!” One of the two men passed me on his way off the court as I walked on.

Rick had left shoulder surgery a few months back and is now playing with his natural right hand instead of the left hand that he’s been using for the last few years. Poor guy!

I overheard Tiffany mentioning something about her sister Nicole not coming due to an injury. Whatever it was, it didn’t sound serious. The man that stayed is an Italian fellow in his 50s named Marco. I’d never met him before. It turns out, he’s a good player.


Rick and I played Tiffany and Marco and won 11-8. Tiffany has gotten better over the last couple of years.

Next, we rotated and I played with Tiffany and we lost a close one 10-12. By now, it was 10:43 a.m. and the courts were filling up.

In a third game, Marco and I had a big lead, but we ended up losing 10-12.

Mixed Doubles

Rick and Tiffany both had to go. Marco and I were looking for someone—”Anyone?”—to join us to play more. A couple of women came over, Lauren and Amy. I’d say Amy is a 3.0 and Lauren is a 3.5. Amy played with me and Lauren joined Marco. We were down a lot but came back to win 11-8. Amy started slow but played better the longer we played in that game.

11:05 a.m. The courts were emptying out.

Games with Mike and Terry

Terry and me played a game against Marco and tall, white hair Mike. I don’t see Mike much. Mike is one of those people you can’t judge by appearance. Sure, a long reach and athletic build, but closer to 70 than 60. We lost 7-11. Terry likes to drive everything. Baseline? Drive. Midcourt? Drive. Net? Drive. Still, she manages to make a game of it regardless.

Marco and I played a game against Terry and tall Mike. Initially, they were leading but that didn’t last long and we came back and beat them 11–4. It would have been the upset of the month had we lost.


I’m a bit hesitant, but I’m going to share this just for educational purposes. Not everything is always “flowers and sunshine” in the pickleball world. No matter where you are in the world, you’ll run into a situation like this sooner or later. It is what it is. Nothing major.

My plan was to leave after that game, but player who also does 4.0 tournaments showed up and he’s always a good challenging opponent. I’ll leave his name out. I really should have headed out to get prepared for my trip to the Bay Area, but he was insistent that I stay. Honestly, it’s not hard to convince me to play just one more game! I was hoping to play against him for the best challenge and Marco stood next to me waiting, but no one was willing to join the player. There was an awkward period of time as people waiting nearby simply tried to look busy or turned down the requests to join the game.

I figured that the only way to get this game to happen was to cross the net and play as his partner. After I did, Lauren came in to join Marco.

My partner for that game has a habit of providing a flow of corrections during games, so before we got started, I told him that I was there to relax and then I didn’t want him to coach me. (“Where did that come from?”) And, to his credit, he didn’t.

But, boy, I played a bad game. We lost something like 3–11. I was not playing well at all. After getting water once the game was done, I walked up to my partner and told him that loss was on me. He took that as an invitation. “That was a 3.5 game.” (Since I do tournaments in 4.0.) I replied, “At best. That might have even been a 3.0 game.” He went on, “You were hitting out balls. How many years has that been?” Ouch. He was talking about the high drive by Marco where I put up my paddle then tried to pull it back down but I was too late and the ball deflected off my paddle and landed out of bounds. But my partner was 100% accurate. Hitting out balls continues to be an Achilles’ Heel for me. “Yes, something that I need to fix.”

I said my goodbyes and headed out.

I ran into the Laurie on the street when I was walking to my car. I told her about my conversation with my partner after the game. She said, “He made plenty of mistakes.“ She added, “People like that take apologies simply as an opportunity to let you have it.” Instead of being encouraging and giving gentle criticism, it’s a chance to double-down on pointing out mistakes and shift blame. (Though I take the blame for the loss since I did not play a good game at all.)

I left feeling miserable. If you’ve been reading my blog entries, you’ll know that probably like most players—at least the ones who care about improving—how well I played in my last game determines my mood.

San Carlos

The original plan was for my son Nicholas and I to leave Santa Cruz at 12:45 p.m. in order to get to San Carlos about 2 p.m. As it was, between that one extra game, getting some things done around the house, and a phone call from my sister about my mother‘s health—she’s doing ok—we left closer to 1:15 p.m. Nicholas was in his car and I was in my car. We stopped at his apartment in Santa Clara, dropping off his car, and then the two of us continued in my car to my sister-in-law‘s house.

We arrived and we said our hellos. The group would be me, Nicholas, Liz, and her husband Steve. We gathered up our things and walked about a block in their neighborhood to the home of Bill and his wife Betsy, who have their own private pickleball court on the side of their house. Nice!

Bill and Betsy

Liz introduced Nicholas and me to Bill. Liz told me in advance that Bill reminds her of her late father—and my father-in-law—Ron. I could see why. Ron was about half a foot taller but Bill has similar build . . . and the warm, carefree attitude was there.

Bill explained that the president of Sport Court was personally responsible for building this court in 1977. (I looked up Sport Court and it was founded in 1974, assuming that’s the same company.) I have to wonder if this court is one of the first pickleball courts in the State of California. Pickleball was still mostly a Pacific Northwest sport at that time. Bill says they had done a miscalculation on the amount of concrete needed and had gotten too much, so the pad is really thick. This may be why the court is in such good condition as the surface of the court only has a couple of very minor cracks. Bill says the only maintenance they do is having the surface repainted every couple of years and have the landscapers wash it off of the hose once a month. The only real downside to it was net posts are not regulation and while the net was legitimate—even with a “Pickle-ball” company logo on it—it was bit too low. I didn’t measure, but I’d guess probably 2″-4″ shy of the proper height.

Steve and Nicholas install the “Pickle-ball” net from the bin at 2:50 p.m.

Liz, Steve, Nicholas, and I rotated partners for as many games as we fit into the roughly 2 1/2 hours that we played. Amazingly, though he didn’t play at all, Bill stood and watched the entirety of our session there. His wife Betsy came and joined him for maybe an hour, but she wandered back into the house to get things done.

Bill is pretty hysterical. He would poke fun at the level of play. His target was Steve or me or Liz or Nicholas whenever its struck his fancy!

Liz has good hand-eye coordination, though she tends to play tennis on a pickleball court. She has a tendency to stay back at the baseline and not come up to the kitchen, and she also has a tendency to drive balls all the time. By the time I left, Liz is doing better getting up to the net. She and Steve were demonstrating some semblance of a soft game too. They definitely made progress!


Once it was decided that we were done playing, I wanted to see the purported old paddles that were in Bill’s storage bin. I walked over and, sure enough, there were two really cool vintage wooden paddles with the Pickle-ball brand logo on them and a model name, “The Diller.” I took a photo of the two of the paddles in the bin and decided I wanted another shot with better light so I and walked out with one paddle onto the court.

“Those aren’t even the old ones!”, exclaimed Bill. “There are some older ones in there with no logo.”

I walked back to the bin and dug around a little bit and sure enough, there were two paddles completely devoid of any markings. Wow. These are certainly from the early days of pickleball. I remember reading about the founders making wood paddles in their garage! I was touching history!

We wanted to get some group photos.

Liz, me, Bill, and Nicholas.

Steve and Liz wanted a patriotic shot too.

Steve and group. 5:16 p.m.

We walked back to Liz and Steve’s home, got brief visits with their two teenagers, my niece Piper and nephew Grant, who were coaxed out of their holes.

From there, Nicholas and I made a stop at In’N’Out Burger for dinner. Once I dropped him off at his apartment, I was soon on my way over the Santa Cruz Mountains to the coast and home!

It turned out to be an amazing day! Not too bad for “court day” number 666!

Number of days on a court: 666
Number of total hours: 2,837.5
Number of paid coaching hours: 37.5

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