Pickleball Journey

Misadventures of Andrew Lenz and a yellow ball

New Paddle Coming!

Tuesday, May 3, 2022 (Court Day #491)

This afternoon I got notice from Players Pickleball that my repaired paddle and the new carbon paddle will be shipping out today and they sent me a UPS tracking number. My communication with Macy there was excellent. With a little bit of luck, my paddles will arrive before I leave town and head to North Carolina for my son‘s graduation from the masters program at Duke University.


It was a very warm day today considering it’s early May, and when I arrived in Skypark after work at about 6:50, it was still warm enough to sweat relatively easily. When I was home for lunch earlier, I packed a water bottle with some ice, so my water was still a little bit cool even after spending an afternoon in my hot car.

My first game was with Matt B. against his friend Paul W. and Eric (husband of Ann). It was a good warm-up game.

Tim and his son Casey walked over right after Matt and I had finished our game and asked to take on the winners. The winners were Matt and myself and I was quite happy that I got into game with Tim and Casey. Those are always good games. Matt and I went on to lose that game but it was very close. Matt stepped out for the next game and his friend Paul became my partner for the next game. This game was not nearly as close, and it was a lopsided loss.

Tim and Casey called it a night. Janet called me over and she and I played against Paulie and his short Swedish friend Maria. Even with me playing lefty and Janet making uncharacterIstic mistakes, we won. Not a surprise. We switched it up with me playing with Maria against Paulie and Janet. Before we started, Maria turned to me and said, ”You’ll have to be patient with me … we played before, you were very patient and kind.” Did we win? No, but it was very close.

The Yreka Connection

The newer player Chandler was back tonight—along with her husband Alec whom I got to meet tonight. I told Chandler that had looked at my dad’s 1960 Yreka High School yearbook—which I did on Sunday night—but I didn’t find anyone with the last name of Lay or Martin—names who Chandler said last week were her relatives and should have graduated that same year with my dad. I did, of course, find my dad’s photo:

My dad, high school senior, aged 19.

I am very familiar with that photograph. When I was young enough to think 19 was old, this graduation photo in a frame in the hallway at my grandparents’ house in the very small town of Montague, California… the population was just over 400 then. Now it has exploded to a whopping 900 people. My grandfather, John Lenz, was mayor of Montague at one point…maybe in the 1960s. My dad claimed they elected him because they wanted my grandfather’s engineering skills for free—John designed dams and assorted water facilities. I believe he designed Montague’s sewage treatment system. My dad said his dad would shake his head when the Army Corps of Engineers would do some project. Like changing the course of a river. The story goes that my grandfather would know to have boulders placed in very specific locations then let the flowing water do the hard work of moving (literally) tons of dirt and shaping land accordingly. Things like that and using the natural flow of water to reduce power usage. The Army would do things the hard way, working against water instead of with it. My grandfather was very intelligent. He didn’t waste words and, while pleasant, you had to prompt most conversations. But I digress!

Last Game

Last game of the night I was partnered again with Swedish Maria. The game was against Matt and his friend Paul, and I was expecting to lose that game fairly badly. But much to all of our surprise, Maria and I went up to lead via score of 7 to 2. But that was not to last and Matt and Paul managed to tie up the score 7-7 when the lights clicked off at 9:30. Maria was doing much better coming up to the net and she definitely has good hand-eye coordination.


My elbow seems to be doing a little better today, but I iced it when I got home nonetheless. I checked the UPS tracking tonight and it says my paddles should indeed come on Thursday. Good news.

Wednesday, May 4, 2022 (No Play)

I checked the UPS tracking on my paddles and they are still expected to be delivered tomorrow.

Online, I saw part of a video clip of a TV interview with famous tennis player, Serena Williams.

I tracked down the interview:
In it, she says she loves pickleball. Ellen Degeneres, the interviewer, then chimes in that she loves it too. The surprise is Serena. Many tennis players are almost embarrassed to admit that they play pickleball. But who is going to try and shame the greatest women’s tennis player of all time because she says she loves pickleball? Yeah, not any sane person!

Thursday, May 5, 2022 (No Play)

My paddles arrived today!

Mummified in eco-friendly packaging!

I was excited, of course. I will admit that when I unwrapped my old paddle, I was disappointed to see that they didn’t put my custom grip wrap back on.

Handles prior to overgrips.

My wife who keeps our house organized, moved my new pickleball grip from a year or two ago to somewhere that I couldn’t find. But she managed to track down a tote bag of my assorted pickleball stuff she hung on a nail in the garage.

Very happy to see these guys!

The happy news is not only did I have one new handle overgrip for my old paddle, I had three, so more than enough to do both paddles. Excellent!

After wrapping the handles, I realized that I can’t blame Players for not rewrapping my handle. That grip tape is very sticky and after a year and a half, the grip no doubt tore when removing it.

The texture of the face of the new paddle seems a bit more “grippy” than my old paddle. I should have expected that, but I didn’t even think of it. Even if they started the same, you’d expect the face to smooth out with time.

Crazy Questions

Not infrequently, you see questions online which are eye opening. Such as this one…

Yipe! No doubt some know-it-all player somewhere was claiming it’s illegal to return a serve into the kitchen. We have to remember that half the population is below median intelligence. I don’t blame the person asking the question—he’s obviously a newbie—I blame the smarty pants giving out crappy information to others when, in fact, they have no idea what they are talking about!

Flight to North Carolina

How to drive your wife crazy. Say you are going to wear your halloween costume shirt for the cross-country flight! I won’t, of course. But it’s fun to get a rise out of your spouse!

My son Nicholas is graduating from Duke University’s masters program, so we’re traveling for the ceremony. We’re taking a redeye flight tonight. Yes, I’m packing my paddles!

Players Pickleball Coupon Code

Oh, if you like my blog and want to support it and you want to buy a Players pickleball paddle and get a discount for yourself plus also allow me to get a discount on my next purchase from them, you can use this link:
(Thanks in advance!)

Number of days on a court: 491
Number of total hours: 2,306.5

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

Tall Visitors – David and Astin

Sunday, May 1, 2022 (Court Day #490)

I went to put on my court shoes this morning. I’ve been rotating a couple of pairs. The older pair is more comfortable though the permanent insoles were worn through in a couple of places. The newer pair are a bit tight on my big toes so I’ve been breaking them in slowly. I also bought a pair of inexpensive black Fila athletic shoes from Costco recently, but I haven’t tried those yet. (I’m a bit concerned about their lateral support, honestly.) Well, I discovered an issue this morning with the old pair…

Uh, oh. Small wardrobe malfunction.

…and those shoes are toast. The “tight on the toes” pair it would be!

While filling up my water bottle with ice and water, I saw my wife had bought cake mix! Yum. Hmmm. Wait. Nope. Not for me.

A birthday cake planned for the dog.

Out the Door

As I walked out the door this morning at 8:39 a.m., I stopped long enough to inform my wife “it’s going to be a warm one today!“ It was already sunny and warm with barely any clouds in the sky.

When I walked up to the courts to set up, a solitary tall visitor, David, was practicing backhand crosscourt shots by himself. I greeted him and he said he was down visiting from Napa with his girlfriend and he came out to play. He said he’s been playing for about 4 months.

Not long after, another visitor, Astin, visiting from Sacramento, appeared. I introduced him to David and they ended up playing a lot together today . . . starting with Mike K. and a regular whom I forget his name. Mike and his partner lost. Aside from David and Astin being about 30-ish and athletic, both are 6’3”! Long reaches cover a lot of sins!

My Games

My first two games were with Twan and Molly. They said today was their second time out playing, and my first time meeting them. I played them lefty and even then, I had to hold back to keep the points from ending too quickly. But they should get to be solid players with some time. Both are very nice people and can hit the ball reliably. When we were done, Twan said, “Thanks for the lesson!”

Skill Level Time

10 a.m. rolled around, meaning everyone was now signing up by skill level. From the bench inside, Ted and another called over wanting me to sign up in their red box. But by the time I got to the board, Ying was signing up with them, taking the last spot. I don’t consider Ying an advanced player. She has virtually no soft game. (Yet.) When I let out an audible “wha…” as she signed up, she explained, “I need to learn how to play with the big boys.” Ah, well. I could have argued, but I opted to wait while she experimented with playing Derby Park’s advanced. I started a new red box. I’ll admit I was slightly annoyed, but, ya know, Ying is not alone, there are others who sign up in red and I think they should be signing up in intermediate blue.

Playing with the Boys

“I understand you two are good enough to sign up in my box.” I was talking to Astin and David. Someone told me they were strong players. They signed up and Allen—who just arrived—made it four. Astin and David took one side and Allen and I took the other. It was Allen’s first game of the day. I went into this game intent not to lose. I didn’t want the newbies to have that satisfaction, so they got my focused tournament mindset. We won 11-9. It was close, but we did lead the whole game. As we walked off, Allen complimented me, “I don’t think you made any errors.” I countered, “I missed two serves long.” But it’s true, I played a very, very good game.

The next game, a rubber match, with Allen now warmed up, we won 11-5. About the time Allen and I were leading 9-2, David said, ”You guys are giving us a clinic.” I eased up a bit, I was feeling bad for them. They scored a few points. Not wanting to allow a comeback, I refocused and we finished off the game.

Strong vs. Weak

Later, ended up in a game of Charles and me against Ted and Ying. Ted wanted to play with Ying. That’s an Andrew move. Picking the weakest player to be your partner and have the best players to play against you. They scored a couple of points and led the game. I told Charles, “I guess I need to take this game a bit more seriously.” Charles replied, ”Why wouldn’t you take this game seriously?” But the next serve was coming and I never answered. As the game went on, Charles and I started piling on points and won a lopsided game—as I expected. Of the players today, one could easily argue Charles and I were the best ones there. It would have been a big upset had we lost.

As I was walking through after finishing a game and Astin was shifting courts with his group, he said with a smile, “Thanks for being so inviting.” Mission accomplished!

René and I played a game again John and Janet. (While René’s boyfriend Rick was there, he said he slept on his neck weird midweek and wasn’t up to playing—he was there just to hang put and support René.) René and I won, not unexpected.

Later, around 1 p.m., when he was heading out, I asked Astin, ”Will we see you again?”
”Most definitely.”

Still a Crowd?

It’s different these days. It’s getting more and more common to have a bunch of players after 1 p.m. It makes it more awkward for me to take down the club nets, leaving the less than stellar city nets. It’s a good problem to have, I suppose.

Three games going as I left at 1:15 p.m.!

Iced my arm twice. Once about 4pm. and again about 9 pm. It was bothering me more than normal.

Monday, May 2, 2022 (No Play)

I got word today from Macy at Players Pickleball that they’d repaired my paddle edging and since I had mentioned buying one of their new carbon paddles if it were available, she inquired exactly what I wanted for the new paddle. I told her I wanted the black grip (though it’ll get covered with overgrip anyway) and the same shape as my existing paddle. The new paddles are on introductory sale of $129 instead of $149. With my referral codes, the price for the new paddle was well under $100—can’t beat that.

Number of days on a court: 490
Number of total hours: 2,304

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

Andrew and Matt S. Redemption

Tuesday, April 28, 2022 (Court Day #489)

I arrived at Skypark after work at about 6:45 p.m. The courts were busy. The first court I ran into had Paul W. on it as well as his young redheaded daughter, Mallory. By the looks of things, Paul’s daughter is about eight years old. And she was doing a decent job of getting the ball back over the temporary net although occasionally the ball would end up sailing into the court nearby. I hit the ball back-and-forth with them for a few minutes—though she was hitting more to her dad next to me, a foreshadowing—and then I managed to get into a game on the adjacent court. 

First Game

I played with David from Aptos as my partner, the one whom we have common friends, against Wendy and Weezy. Before the game started, the two ladies consulted at the baseline for about 15 or 20 seconds. David and I were wondering what they’re talking about. It didn’t take too long for me to figure out what their strategy was. This was the first game I’ve ever played where my opponents very, very clearly avoided hitting the ball to me at all. The ball was just not coming to me. I was watching it go to David over and over. I think I may have touched the ball a total of 10-15 times the entire game—plus my serves. As it was, we still won the game 11-0. 

Harder Games

Once that game ended I looked across the courts and saw that a game between Casey and his dad Tim against firefighter Matt and Glenn had just ended. Hoping, I trotted across the courts and Glenn was ready to step out anyway, which he did.

Matt and I went on to play four games against Casey and his dad Tim. The first game was decisively lopsided with our side scoring only a few points. But I have to say, these are the games that I love. All the players are stronger players, plus I’m playing against the strongest players on the court (aside from myself). Each game that Matt and I played against Casey and Tim, we improved the score ratio. By the time the fourth game rolled around, it was getting dark. This pickleball game was also rather lopsided—but this time it was lopsided in the favor of Matt and myself. This was quite a surprise . . . and I just happened to record this one. Since Tim was playing copyrighted music, this video has to be watched on the YouTube website (versus embedded here). The wind blows the camera wonky in the beginning but don’t freak out, it happens only a few times during the game, so you won’t get too seasick!

Wind Down Games

I went on to play with fellow named Daniel against Aaron (both part of the Matt and Paul clan) and a young fellow named Mike. I was tired, cold, and not as focused . . . the skill level of my companions in this game was a step down. It was also getting windy enough to push the ball around the court for some shots. Im glad there was no video for these games! We finished our third game and checked the time: 9:29 p.m. Sure enough, the lights clicked off shortly thereafter.

Saturday, April 30, 2022 (No Play)

With my Players brand paddle on its way to its spawning grounds for repair, I’ve been playing with my ProKennex paddle. This morning, I woke up with pain at my elbow—my outer elbow. That’s tennis elbow. I’ve been battling minor “golfer’s elbow” on the inside of my elbow for months. But this level of pain—while still relatively mild—is new. Perhaps this is serving as a good test to compare the success/failure of each paddle dealing with tennis elbow. I’ll be playing at least another few outings with the ProKennex.

I went ahead and looked up the FedEx Ground tracking for my paddle and it says it was delivered yesterday to Players Pickleball in Bellingham, Washington. We’ll see how quickly it gets turned around.

Number of days on a court: 489
Number of total hours: 2,300

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

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