Adventures of Andrew Lenz and a Yellow Ball

Author: andrewlenz (Page 1 of 228)

Family Connections Pickleball

Sunday, May 5, 2024 (Court Day #654)

My right knee is bothering me a little bit, giving me mild pain while walking around this morning. Tomorrow morning is the club’s “Dinko de Mayo” event—I guess you could call it a tournament. Everyone has been assigned a team, though I’m not sure how many players are on a given team, each one is named after some kind of food like the Notorious Nachos or the Taco Titans.

As I was driving to Derby Park at 8:45 a.m., I was noticing that there were moist areas on the road from precipitation since last night and the front deck of our house had standing drops of water on it. That made me wonder about the condition of the courts at Derby. I was really hoping that we’d be past the season of wet courts but we may not be.

It was partly cloudy and 52°F.


When I arrived at Derby Park, there are some players warming up on a court and Mark G. was blowing off the courts with his own blower. You got like the guy!

Quite unusual, two of the city nets had been partially disassembled and pushed off to the side . Apparently, some tennis players came to play and decided to make things more difficult for pickleball players later. It wasn’t outright vandalism, but it was obviously and very intentionally annoying.

As feared, there were puddles on the courts, but they were small and the sun was now shining. Between three of us with towels plus the sun, they were dry in about 10-15 minutes.

Once I’d set everything up and blown off the courts more fully, it was 9:15 a.m. and I got about to getting into a game.


Today was a far better day for game play. Tall Charles O. and Dave Cox came today.

Dave started a blue (4.0+) box which had Dave and Mark G. and Ted and I added my name to the box. Dave and I are generally similarly skilled followed by Mark followed by Ted. When our box was called, we went to a court and Dave partnered with Mark. I think they might have a tournament together, but I’m not sure. Regardless, it’ll be Dave’s M.O. to pick the strongest player to play with as a partner since he doesn’t like to lose—even rec play. Dave couldn’t have picked me, Ted would have probably complained about balance. Ted played well enough for the game to be fairly even. Still, Mark and Dave ended up winning by several points.

After his performance in that game, Ted decided to sign up in a lower level instead. The rest of us signed up in blue and waited for a fourth to fill out our box. That fourth player turned out to be Charles which made me super happy. That would be a good game.

The first game was very close. Charles and I lost. It would be hard to place a blame either of us. We both were playing reasonably well, though we did make some errors.

Between games, Dave Cox asked if I was ready to drop $600 on a pickleball workshop. That’s definitely a big chunk of change. However, I do have extra income coming from teaching. The problem was, the 4.0+ camp is less than a week away. It conflicts with a tournament René and I are playing on Saturday morning.

In the next game, Charles was saying he was falling apart, but then we came back took the lead. But then Mark and Dave came back and won the game. Still it was super fun with good rallies.

In the last game, we won 11-7 and we lead the entire game.

I left at 12:15 p.m. I had to get home, eat, and get out to Aptos to teach.


My brother John texted me a couple of photos showing that they were using the pickleball net that I gifted to him and his family.

Lulu and Gigi and the CORE net I gifted my brother.

I could tell that they were at Skypark.

My brother John, Lulu and Gigi. Gigi is ready!! Power stance!

Up and coming young players!

New Rec Beginner Class

Today is the first day of my new beginners group that includes—surprise—my wife and some of her friends from teaching. One of my registered students—another educator—got injured and couldn’t come to the first class and ended up dropping out altogether. Fortunately, I had friend and staff-member Julia step in and fill out as the fourth for the second court.

My wife Kristen (middle) with her coworkers/friends Mary and Lisa.

Class Notice

In the evening, sent out an email blast to my former pickleball beginner students letting them know that I’m teaching an Advanced Beginner 4-week class at Skypark. It’s already half full, but I figured I’d let my former students know about it and give them the opportunity to sign up if they wanted to.

Number of days on a court: 654
Number of total hours: 2,803
Number of paid coaching hours: 33

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

Non-Club at Derby (Friday)

Friday, May 3, 2024 (Court Day #653)

Ted B. had invited me a few days ago to come play at Derby with a group of guys. They start at 9 a.m., but I arrived at 9:15 a.m. Eric had texted me asking if I was coming. Yes, just moving slowly. It was a partly cloudy morning with the sun peeking through.


As I walked up to the courts, I was quite surprised. Every single court was being used! Matt Smith, the retired firefighter, was there as was Terry and her husband Gary who are both back from Mexico where they spend the colder months. She said they got back on Sunday and this was her third time out playing since then.

New guy David partnered with Stoehr (“Stair”) against Larry and his wife Jacquie.

I got into mid-skill games today. I was playing pretty well until a little bit past 11 a.m. when I started to fatigue and the lack of breakfast started making itself known.


There was a game where Eric S. and I played against John P. and Ted. I hit a winner down the sideline. I was looking right down the line and it was unquestionably landed on the middle of the blue line. I even smiled and pointed down to John indicating it was in. I went back to the baseline expecting a sideout. But Ted and John switched places taking a point. I asked, “Did you call my shot out?” They said it was out. Aside from commenting to Eric about it, I didn’t say anything more, but I was quite annoyed. Yes, it’s their call, but I know my shot was in, I had the best view. There may have been an older guy off on the side who made a call for Ted and John. But he wasn’t looking down the line like I was. Yes, it’s only a game, but I was annoyed by the injustice of it all! Eric and I went on to win the next few rallies, but we ended up losing the game. We shouldn’t have lost but we did—I’d take Eric over John or Ted with no question. I don’t think my annoyance was part of the loss . . . while it wasn’t my best game, I was playing better than Eric in this one.

Eric was there for about an hour and a half before he decided to leave. Matt Smith left not long after. Too bad, they were some of of the stronger players there.

In a game against Allen and Rick A., I scored 3 points in a row off of my serves. It can be embarrassing for me . . . it’s hard to explain. I don’t like to stick out. Rick was asking later about my serves, “It hits the ground and speeds up unexpectedly.” I explained that I come up over the back of the ball to apply topspin.

When tapping paddles after a game later in the morning, Stoehr told me, “You’re a pro.” Oh, yeah, I can totally take down Ben Johns whenever I feel like it. NOT! Though once I was warmed up, I did feel that I was the best player there today. I don’t think I’m conceited, though nearly everyone feels that they are better than they truly are. While playing at Skypark or Brommer, I’m often either just one of a number of good players or even second tier.

The rallies today typically didn’t last more than 3–5 shots . . . long rallies may 8 shots. The rare, very long rallies might be 10 shots.

By 12:35 p.m., I was in my car and pulling out to head home. It turned into a really warm day . . . and unusual for me, I had some sweat stains on my T-shirt. It was home, shower, eat, then to work.


Being I work six days a week, I took a little time to finish up the new dry erase board needed for the new club day at Skypark on Saturdays. I had been going fast and my educated guess on the spacing left a slightly larger box for the right column. Oops. Oh, well. That’s what you get for volunteer labor sometimes! But hey, most players are righties anyway, it could be helpful actually.

Lined and receiving coats of Krylon clear dry erase spray.

Evening Dog Walk

I was out walking the dog and took another crack at the USA Pickleball Player Rules Test. Yep. Another 100% score.

Saturday, May 4, 2024 (No Play)

Apparently, there was a controversy this past weekend. A female player fell during a mixed doubles match and a male opponent pegged her with the ball—for a winner—while she was still down. Not very chivalrous, but all’s fair in love, war, and pickleball tournaments! Within the rules, of course. And it was. And it was a relatively light hit, not a full-power slam shot. If he hit the ball near her and it bounced off the court, it could be returned by her partner. The only way to easily guarantee ending the rally to his benefit was to have the ball touch her . . . other than her paddle hand. Tournaments are cutthroat. The weakest player will be targeted. No mercy. It’s all out.

Number of days on a court: 653
Number of total hours: 2,800
Number of paid coaching hours: 31.5

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

Reservations at Skypark

Tuesday, April 30, 2024 (Court Day #652)

This popped up and I thought it was so apropos and it’s so true:
Building up your partner on the court will have so many more benefits than criticizing or giving constant suggestions on how to improve his or her play.


I opted to actually register for play tonight at Skypark using the new system.

I was only number 12 out of 24, so only half the slots were booked.

I could guarantee that there would be more than 12 people there tonight! It seems that players aren’t taking to the online registrations.


It was a surprising 70° as I drove from work to Scotts Valley. I decided I would try parking in the parking lot next to the skate park and the soccer field for the first time. I have to admit there’s a bit of a trek. I didn’t time it but it probably took 6-7 minutes to walk the quarter-mile to the courts. [Later note: It’s actually only a 5 minute walk, it always seems longer the first time!] Every minute that I walked, I could feel court time slipping away. I could also see how it would be really dark walking back from the courts after sunset. I got the courts about 10 minutes to 7 p.m.

I got some good games tonight and some marginal games. Overall, I felt that I was playing fairly well. Although I did have some of my returns fly deep. I think I’m still getting used to this new Gearbox power paddle. I never had the yips serving before, but I missed an extraordinary amount of serves tonight. Some into the net, some long, even one or two too far a left or too far right. It was odd.

Chris, Matt, Paul

I got into a good game with Paul and Matt and my partner was a stocky guy named Chris who sports a beard and glasses. This was the first time I played with Chris. I would say a very strong 3.0 or a weak 3.5 player. Chris and and I found ourselves down. I think it was 1–6, and later 3–7. But surprisingly we came back to win 12-10.

In the “rubber match”, Paul and Matt won and as we were walking up to court Chris suggested we play third game since we had split the first two games. But when we got off the court, without asking, Casey had signed up Paul and Matt already to play with his dad Tim and him. Club rules generally don’t apply, so anything goes. With club play, you can’t sign someone up until they’re off the courts. But again, this isn’t club.

I generally had weaker games after that.

I got into a game with Kevin against a guy named Mike—who I didn’t know —and Francis. Francis was the least strong player.

It was a fun evening. I got to play some games later against Tim Handley. Tim is a very worthy adversary. He has a lot of great spin on his shots and has angled spin serves. He got me on two or three of his serves that he curved off to to my right. Impressive.

We were expecting the lights to go off at 8:30 p.m, but they stayed on until 9:30 p.m. I’m not sure when the City of Scotts Valley will be changing it to 8:30 p.m. as they had announced recently.


I helped take down the final portable net with Francis locking up the city bin. (There’s a SCPC bin there now too.) Rachael asked if I wanted to ride to my car. Given the distance and the darkness, I decided to take her up on her offer. She had offered once before, but I was only a block and a half away that time, so I had passed. I really appreciated the ride tonight. While in the car, she mentioned something about parking behind her brother. The car in front of us was Francis. I was thinking, “What?“ I asked her if Francis was her brother and she said “Yes, you didn’t know that?” When I asked, she said that Francis is 10 years older than her but also graduated from the same high school, Harbor. Rachel also said that her older sister Irene plays at Derby Park. I don’t think that I’ve played with Irene or I simply don’t remember doing so.

Thursday, May 2, 2024 (No Play)

Rec sent out an email blast today. The first photo that appears is me with my student that the launch event.

I opted to not go to Skypark tonight so I could stay home and work on the new dry erase court board at my house. (They need a new board for Skypark since Saturdays there are now official club play days.) That’s me, giving up play for the greater good.

Number of days on a court: 652
Number of total hours: 2,796.5
Number of paid coaching hours: 31.5

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

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