Wednesday, March 16, 2017 (A.K.A. Court Day #7)
It turns out I had the evening free after work and with the blessing of my somewhat neglected wife, after stopping very briefly at home, I raced out to the pickleball courts at Skypark in Scotts Valley for the very first time. The SCPC announcement said the gathering was 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. and I got there at 6:40 to find packed courts. (The parking lot at the courts was full, so I had to park in the neighborhood streets.)
Being that we just had the time change a few days ago, it was still light for little while before the court lights were required.
Dave (my former neighbor) was there along with Eric and John (sailor). There were a smattering of regulars from Derby Park as well.
Listen To Your Elders
So, ok. I’ll admit that I’m probably wrong. I played a game later in the evening with Kent. I’ve never played with Kent—that I recall—but Kent came from the court with a SCPC 5.0 doubles player, Terry Long. Jerry—another tournament player—was on that court along with a younger fellow who I don’t know the name of yet but who is also really good. It was fun watching them. They were all really good. Lob, volley, dink, dink, dink, volley, volley. Impressive shot after impressive shot.
I partnered with Kent. Across the net was Jukka (pronounced “you-kah”) and a man I didn’t know. Jukka is one of those guys who can spin the ball and occasionally ace serves.
So, Kent walked up to me between points and quietly told me, “You are quick on your feet. But you are moving through your shots. You should split step, set up, then hit. You shouldn’t move through your shots.” He was talking in reference to returning a serve or returning a shot sent from the baseline where I had time to adjust to the ball. Given that I’ve had two more-experienced pickleball players tell me this and I’ve also read about it, I need to take it to heart.
I have to say that amongst the rookie shots into the net or slams that went long beyond the baseline, I did make a shot that no one expected me to get to—even me! I can’t remember if it was a short and low slam or it was a dink when I was too far back, but regardless, my shot won the point and also won some accolades from my courtmates. That was a nice feeling. I just need to reduce the rookie mistakes and increase the highlight reel shots—that ratio is way out of balance right now.
Kent also quietly told me that our unnamed opponent had a weaker backhand. Later on in the game, I hit a shot a hard cross court to his backhand and it was returned into the net. Kent turned to me gave me a knowing smile and look that said, “You listened. Good job.” And we did win that match.
Yes. I did miss one serve tonight in my 2 1/2 hours of playing. But that darn thing sure looked on the centerline to me! Next time.
Of Mice and Paddles
A woman had a blue Paddletek Graphite Tempest paddle resting on the bench next to me. That’s the one that I’ve been considering purchasing. She left it unguarded so I slipped it into my backpack. Kidding! (Did you think I was serious? Ha!) I did pick it up and get a feel for it, however. It was somewhat heavier that the paddle that I have temporarily on loan from John. I did notice that Jerry and another really good player at the courts were using this model paddle. I liked the lighter feel of the loaned paddle so it has made me think twice about the Tempest. Still, maybe it’s the one I want.
I overheard John asking Dave if he was definitely going to play with him in the tournament in Palo Alto. Dave said yes. That meant I was out as John’s partner. I got Eric’s contact information and asked him what he was doing on May 6. He laughed and said he didn’t know but he’d check his calendar. I told him about the tournament and he seemed intrigued. Eric had a potential conflict on that weekend, so depending on what his wife wants, Eric will have to decide. A relaxing weekend somewhere? Or pickleball? Being that he’s been at each of the events the past week as I have—Sunday, yesterday morning and tonight—pickleball might just win!
I have no illusions that we’d have any hope of even getting close to winning, but I think it would be fun and a great experience.
Hmmm. Playing three times in five days. I guess I really am hooked!