Adventures of Andrew Lenz and a Yellow Ball

Month: June 2024 (Page 1 of 4)

Tennis Convert, a Rare Saturday at Brommer

Wednesday, June 26, 2024 (No Play)

So, pickleball-convert former tennis pro Genie Bouchard did well today as she beat Irina Tereschenko 11-3, 11-8 in singles. Of course, singles translates far more easily from tennis than pickleball doubles.


Thursday, June 27, 2024 (No Play)

Well, the bask of victory for Genie Bouchard was short-lived. #1 Anna Leigh Waters disposed of Genie 11-1, 11-4 today.

#1 17-year-old Anna Leigh Waters in February

Costly

A newspaper headline today read, “SC area named most expensive rental market in the nation”. Our county is #1 in the country for unaffordability. San Francisco—about an hour and a half north—is #2. San Jose (part of the Silicon Valley)—about a 40 minutes north—is #3.

Here’s a link to the article…


Saturday, June 29, 2024 (Court Day #679)

I decided to take the day off from work. I’d arranged to take it off to work on our broken clothes dryer, but I got it repaired last night. (I’m not afraid to take things apart and put them back together . . . $10,000 photostat camera, toaster oven, clothes dryer—I’m on it!) Plus, I’m due for a little time off. I do work 6 days a week, after all!

I left my house at about 8:45 a.m. and headed to Brommer Park. It was overcast and 55°F.

I almost never play the Brommer Park on Saturday morning, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I texted René Baker and asked her if she was going. She said that she was. Then I asked my main question . . . if she thought I’d be able to get into a game. (Groups often stick together like glue.) She responded with, “always.”

Overpass

For the last six months or so, the CalTrans has been working on a pedestrian overpass near Chanticleer Avenue. It looks like they’re getting pretty close to being finished. I’d be surprised if it takes more than a month to finish it off. It’ll be nice not to have to deal with lane closures and orange cones narrowing the frontage road. Now, how much use it’ll get is a whole ‘nuther question! It’s not exactly a hotbed of pedestrian activity there.

Tennis Elbow

I haven’t played since Sunday, nearly a week, and I can only mildly feel any tennis elbow symptoms. On Sunday, I played with my Players Rogue 2 paddle instead of the Gearbox Pro. I did that again today. I’m trying to take it easy today on my arm.

Brommer Park

I pulled up to Brommer Park at 9 a.m.  sharp and there was plenty of parking—only maybe a quarter of lot was taken. As I pulled in, I could see Sean, the other pickleball instructor for Rec, walking in. He’s always a good challenge, though it turned out, I didn’t get to play with him.

Lacy, Monica, Eric

My first game was with an older man Eric against Lacy and Monica. I’d never met any of them. Monica, I knew by reputation. She’s the Monica who arranges local for-profit pickleball events, such as tournaments and clinics. She was involved in getting Ben Johns and other pros to Monterey last year. I was told that Lacy and Monica wanted to play together since they have a tournament together soon. Fine by me. Eric and I had two games against the girls. I started slow—I skipped any warmup—but Eric and I won both games. The second one by a significant margin.

For the third game, they opted for mixed. I picked Lacy, the weakest player. It was close, but we lost 11-8. 

Better Games

I played a game with Evan (pronounced “Eh-von”, it’s Spanish) against Dieter and Conner. It was a close game and we were ahead. Evan complimented me on my transition zone resets. At the end of the game, I hit three balls that would have otherwise sailed out. We lost. I’m kicking myself.

More Games

Dieter and I played a game against René and Rick. Dieter and I won, which is what I was expecting, although the game was closer than I had originally anticipated. It’s interesting adjusting to stacking with a left-handed player. Mid-game communication is extremely important and Dieter is good at that, calling out shots that he wants to take and also shots that he’s expecting me to take. I did quite a bit of playing left-handed back (and stacking) when I had really bad tennis elbow, but it’s very different being the righty person on the left, instead of the lefty on right. It’s good experience. I will say after watching Dieter play with another partner and he had to keep telling her where to go at the start of each serve, I made his life quite a bit easier since I knew where to go and where to be while stacking. We were half stacking, that is, only stacking while we were serving and not while we were receiving.

René

I played a few games with René on the court, however, she twisted her knee trying to get to a shot that I hit and she stopped playing that game midway through so she could try to recover.

I got into another game or two.

After she rested, René and I played a game against a woman named Janelle and a tall, older fellow named Cary. Before the game started Janelle said, “You two are both better than we are.” Wanting to play with me, René told them that her knee and back were bothering her and I also told them that I would play the game left-handed. Her injury and my playing left-handed still didn’t make enough of a difference and we quickly went up 5–0. We eventually won the game 11–5. René said, “This was the most chill game I’ve played all day.” It’s good practice for me to play left-handed now and then. I got all my serves in lefty and I even believe there were at least a couple of returns they didn’t get back over the net off my serves. I did play every single shot in that game lefty.

Later, René and I played a game against Chloe, who is Tim Handley‘s protégé, and a guy named Aaron who is tall but I’ve never met before. Aaron is a good player, but he likes to drive everything. We won.

Longing

I could see Sean and his brother Danny playing in games with Marquis, Oscar, and Ethan. I didn’t get to play with any of them, unfortunately. The disappointment today was not getting into some of the game at least some games with the best players there.

… And Out!

After sitting around for about 15 minutes with no game readily in sight, I decided to leave for the day at 1:15 p.m.

I was playing pretty well today. I would say maybe half of the games that I played today where everyone was similar skill to me—and some perhaps even better than me.

Number of days on a court: 679
Number of total hours: 2,871.5
Number of paid coaching hours: 46.5

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

Sloppy at Derby

Sunday, June 23, 2024 (Court Day #678)

My daughter Charlotte is home from medical school and my mother-in-law Bonnie is visiting from San Diego, so the two of them were taking my mom to brunch this morning. Since my daughter’s car is small, we traded cars and she took my Toyota Highlander to better fit everyone. You could definitely tell from the metal flowers decorating the air conditioning vents that this was not my car—well, that and the flowery steering wheel sleeve!

The sun was shining and it was already 58°F so I figured it would be a warm day.

I arrived at Derby Park nearly 20 minutes early. A change from last time when I arrived late, at opening time, instead of being early enough to actually open! (That was a first—thankfully!)

Games

Little Linda and Brian played against Brandon and me. We lost 11-7. I was not playing smart pickleball. I found this game frustrating. I was driving shots I should have dropped, I was being sloppy and treating my opponents as if I were playing against very weak players, which I had done earlier in the morning. We should have won this game, and probably would 9 times out of 10.

There was some redemption later when Brian and I beat Hugh and Linda by a huge margin.

Hugh and I played a game against Linda and a regular whose name, I think, is Dave. Dave is shorter with a white ponytail, is more of an intermediate player than a blue level 4.0+. They started out ahead but then once Hugh started getting warmed up a little bit since that earlier first game of his, we had unquestionably won.

Newbie Training

Around 11:30 a.m., a young woman appeared named Natalie. There is also a guy named Jeff who said that he had played a few times. Natalie had never played before. As the site coordinator, it was on me to do the free introduction to the game. Since I had already signed up, I had them watch a game with Hugh and myself against Linda and Brian. Between rallies, I explained the score and what was happening to Natalie and Jeff. Hugh and I were ahead 7-1, then Linda and Brian scored a few points, and then Hugh and I finished them off.

After that game, I checked the time and it was 11:59 p.m. Normally, I’d be leaving right then, but I didn’t want to strand the newbies. I went ahead and got into an instructional game with them. I teamed up with Jeff against Natalie and Linda who joined us. We played a little bit and then JJ took over Linda‘s spot when her game came up. JJ was good giving Natalie tips, it didn’t fall all to me. Even though Natalie was brand new, she was outplaying Jeff, though he had a little bit more experience.

Uh, Can’t Leave!

When I wanted to race off and head home to get ready to teach, there were no site coordinators to be found. Usually there is at least one around. But none meant that I had to get the net taken down, collect all the balls, I put the board away, and get the donations from the jar. It was a mad scramble.

Off to Coaching

I got home at 12:30 p.m. and I didn’t have time to make anything healthy so I ate three chocolate chip cookies while refilling my water bottle and I made some final edits to, then printed, my lesson plan for my Advanced Beginners class today. By the time I was in my daughter’s car and on my way to Skypark, it was 1 p.m. I’ve never been late to teach a class and I hope to never be. I’d rather be thirty minutes early than one minute late.

My daughter’s car was reading 81°F as I drove my way to Scotts Valley. As it was, I was a few minutes early and beat all my students to the court. Even with frequent water breaks, a couple of my students needed to take breaks from the drills and the sun. The courts radiate heat.


Tuesday, June 25, 2024 (No Play)

My wife texted me saying that our dryer was squealing very loudly. Probably a belt issue. Regardless, no pickleball tonight, I get to be an appliance repairman instead!

Video


I found myself torn for this video pitting two 4.0 men against two 5.0 senior women. Root for the 4.0 guys going against the oft (relatively) overrated older female players or the women closer to my age going against the youngsters?

(Some years back, there was a local woman who was 65+ who said she was playing tournaments in womens 4.0. I played regularly against her and I can tell you that she would certainly be 3.0 in men’s sub-60 brackets.)

You’ll have to watch the video to find out who wins!

Number of days on a court: 678
Number of total hours: 2,867.5
Number of paid coaching hours: 46.5

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

Las Vegas Sunset Park #2

Wednesday, June 19, 2024 (Court Day #677)

At the trade show, I was talking to a woman in one booth named Lauren. I brought up pickleball—of course!—and she said that she played and asked my rating. I told her I’m a 4.0. She shared, “I’m somewhere between a 4.0 and a 5.0.” She said she used to play a lot of tennis and doesn’t really have much of a soft game. She lives in Northern California too, so maybe we’ll connect up and play some time.

Sunset Park

I used Uber tonight instead of Lyft. The trade show host gave all the attendees a $30 Uber voucher to get around. I arrived at Sunset Park at 9:02 p.m. Like last night, things were hopping at the courts. 

It was a bit warmer tonight, but still cooler than normal according to the locals. To me, it felt warm no matter what!

First Game

I went to the same court I played on last night. There was a paddle that was placed down by a pleasant petite woman who I think is Filipino. She introduced herself as “Cha Cha.” She kindly said I could join her. We got into a game fairly quickly . . .  ours were the first set of paddles waiting on the ground next to the court.

Unfortunately, we lost in very short order in a lopsided fashion. Cha Cha said that she played poorly in that game. Judging by only that one game, she was the weakest player I’ve seen on the challenge courts, but we all have “off nights” now and then. Maybe she plays better regularly.

After our game, she put down her paddle, and I put down my paddle on the ground behind her, not on top of hers. That indicates that I was willing to wait until after her game instead of playing with her. There was a bit of paddle shuffling going on with random people, and I think someone moved my paddle onto hers. After that last game, I was looking for more of a balanced game. So I told Cha Cha, “I hope you don’t mind, I’m going to move over to this other court.”

The Locals

At 9:25 p.m., I was still waiting for second game. It was taking a while. I was feeling as though I had been waiting half an hour trying to get into my first game, but then I realized that I actually had already played a game. That first game had just been so unsatisfying and short that I simply forgot about it. It was kind of funny in a sad way.

I was chatting a bit with various locals while waiting to get into my next game. I asked a guy named Eric if he’d join me. (My paddle was just sitting there first in line, but with no matching paddle.)

There was a man there, Bennie, and a young blonde woman named Jordan who used to live in Los Vegas but now lives in Arizona. She’s 5’7” and looks about 17 but is 25 and works as a CPA for a living. One of the locals said she is a strong player.

A man showed up and pulled a paddle out of his bag. It appeared to have the top edge cut off—the top was very straight across. Then he started wrapping his paddle with grippy kitchen plastic wrap . . . like you’d put over a casserole dish before putting it in the fridge. I was confused. Was he wrapping it up to ship and sell? Was he literally crazy? (We have some nutty people back home in Santa Cruz—like transients who forget to take their medication or are high on meth—so that’s what crossed my mind!)

Next Game

My game came up. It was to be Eric and me against Bennie and Jordan who had just won their game. Jordan had some really great drops in their game that I’d been watching. I warmed up with Eric for a few minutes while Bennie and Jordan got hydrated.

Eric and I won a close one, 12-10. We got off the court to get some water before our next game. Bennie shared a comment in our direction, “Cowards . . . hitting all your shots to the woman.” Honestly, that had not crossed my mind. And Eric and I did not discuss this—or much of anything else for that matter—as a strategy. Might we have sent more shots to her? Maybe. I couldn’t tell you. 

Next

Next, Eric and I would be playing against the “plastic wrap man” . . . his name is Jason. When I asked Eric about the wrapping, he explained Jason makes his own paddles. But the unorthodox paddle covering didn’t help Jason. Eric and I beat him and his male partner 11-1.

Eric said this would be his last game of the night. I shared with him that it was pretty hot compared to home, I was sweating. 

Having won two games in a row, I was expecting to have to come off, but Eric had said that “unless someone complains, you can just stay on forever.” Ah.

By now, it was 10:04 p.m. The lights would be on for another hour. There were somewhat fewer players waiting. There was a 20-something young fellow who had arrived about 20-30 minutes before. Maybe 6-foot, shaggy blond hair, trim and athletic. His name is Joshua.

Next

Joshua and I would be taking on Bennie and Jordan. After the last game, I was intent on hitting just about every shot to Bennie. And I did. I sent every return to him and most drives. There were a few crosscourt shots that I sent to Jordan, but probably 90% of my shots were to Bennie. Joshua and I won, 11-8. In the end, it didn’t matter than I sent nearly everything to Bennie.

Bugs

There were strange black bugs that that I kept having to kick off of the court. They reminded me of ladybugs in their approximate size and shape. I don’t know what they are, but at least there were only several of these persistent bugs. 

Next

Josh and I next played Jason (“plastic man”) and a man named John.  Kudos to John, he’s a strong player.

Joshua and I were both making unforced errors. Everything that could go wrong as going wrong. We falling behind and falling hard. We were down 0-7! Ouch! Embarrassing!

While on the left, there was one serve I made to Jason where the ball went down the center of the court. Jason tried to run and get it and called it out. I was surprised. Joshua and I looked at each other, then he said to me, “I saw it in.”
“I did too.”
Jason’s partner didn’t say anything either way.
I took a couple to steps toward Jason raised my hands and said, “Your call.” He said it was out. Jason was indeed closer however he was also in a full sprint trying to make that call.

Josh and I started tightening things up and went on a five point run before side out came again. We were playing much better. 

We continued to rack up points while keeping our opponents to just a point after each side out. Soon it was 9-8 and we were ahead. Then 10-10. Then we scored a point. 11-10. Side out. We held them. Joshua and I won 12-10. That was a 12-3 run to come back and win.

We finished that game at 10:55 p.m., five minutes before the lights clicked off.

I got in 2 hours tonight and five games, four of which were strong games. I said my goodbyes. I felt I played pretty well tonight.

Uber

After I used the Uber app to call for a driver, it took a while. As I watched the progress on my phone, the driver went the wrong way, made a U-turn, and generally got lost. But she eventually found me in the parking lot. 

Getting back to the hotel wasn’t much better. We went in circles and she apologized a few times as she missed turns.

We passed the NFL’s Raiders stadium on the way to my hotel.

I didn’t get back to the hotel until nearly midnight. It was a very long Uber ride. I was beat, but it always takes me a little time to wind down. Last night, I got to sleep sometime between 1:30 a.m. and 2 a.m. and was up at 8 a.m.  I was a little short on rest but so worth it to play again tonight!

Number of days on a court: 677
Number of total hours: 2,864
Number of paid coaching hours: 43.5

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

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