Pickleball Journey

Misadventures of Andrew Lenz and a yellow ball

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Slippery but Sunny

Sunday, January 9, 2022 (Court Day #452)

I got to Derby Park a bit later than I’d hoped. I awoke up at 5:30 and was awake for a while, messing up my sleep. I arrived at 8:50. One half of the courts, the shady side, were wet enough that playing would be potentially dangerous. I spent 40 minutes setting up, blowing off the courts and using towels from the bins to try to dry off the wet areas. It was mostly futile. One woman suggested that the wet was from sprinklers for the grass on the other side of the chain link fence. Perhaps. It was certainly weird given that it hadn’t rained for a couple of days.

On a dry court: Tom S. and Mike K. versus Barb B. and Mike.


Me figuring out the logistics for having only dinking games on half the courts initially proved to be problematic. Eventually, I had groups of players starting on the far court of the wet side, then sliding toward the gate as a court shifted, then wrapping around to the side with the dry courts where they could play a full game to 9 points then rotate off. Honestly, it was relatively miserable for everyone. I had to battle a group or two who would occasionally ignore my instructions and play full court games on wet courts or play games to 11 though I had announced playing only to 9. But the 35 or so people got to play and as the players thinned out—exasperated, I suspect—things got better. It was shocking how long it took the courts to dry. There was one still not dry by 1 p.m. when the last of us left.

My Play

I wasn’t thrilled with my play today, but I had my moments. When I drove a shot low over the middle of the net between Charles and Ted for a winner—they both had paddles mere inches away—Renee exclaimed it was “pretty” and she had a “front row seat” to the shot. There was a fair amount of waiting involved today, so maybe that affected my play.

What did I learn?

How to run a group with partially wet courts. But, honestly, I hope I never have to do that again. That was a first since I started as a site coordinator four years ago.

Monday, January 8, 2022 (No Play)

Someone online shares a video of two retired NFL legends playing pickleball—Brett Farve and Jerry Rice—in a commercial for Copper Fit Ice, which apparently makes knee compression sleeves.


I do have to wonder if they really play pickleball, but some shots looked somewhat “legit”. I’m sure they had fun regardless!

Number of days on a court: 452
Number of total hours: 2,190.5

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

Play Misty for Me

Tuesday, January 4, 2022 (Court Day #451)

I had one of my staff to close up our family business for me and I was walking onto the courts at Skypark at 6:00 p.m. sharp. It was pretty misty and would gradually become the most misty I’ve ever seen it at Skypark with billowing clouds rolling across the courts! By the time I left just before 9 p.m., you couldn’t see from one end of the court complex to the other!

On the near court: Sharyl and Rob versus Mike B. (red) and Kristin L.

My first game was with Ann (thin Eric’s girlfriend) with two new guys. But beforehand, she seemed to be leading drilling with a group on two courts. I was expecting a game when I walked up, but I ended up drilling with them for a few minutes.

The drill involved two players started at the kitchen hitting a ball back and forth. A designated player would attempt to hit the ball into the opponent’s kitchen via a drop shot and then take a step back after each successful drop shot landing in the kitchen . . . so the drill got more and more difficult. Then it’d alternate, resetting at the net so the other player was the “dropper.” At first, this was done straight ahead, then it was done crosscourt. This was eye opening for me, as a number of my longer drop shots were landing a bit past the kitchen line. I need to work on this!


I had two games with Tim as my partner against Rob and Kristin. We got killed in the first game, but did far better in the second.

The games of the night were Paul and me against Mike B. and Rob A. We played game after game with the same partners. Paul and I actually won game. I expected to lose every one. Those were challenging and fun games . . . aside from the frustration of my periodic bad shots.

There was volley crosscourt I thought it was high enough and attacked it—right into the white tape. I had a number of shots strike the white tape—it’s like my brain subconsciously aims for it.

What did I learn?

Ugh. So much work to do to get better. I really wish I’d video recorded these games. If it hadn’t been wet and under lights, I might have tried it.


My arm is doing well. I’ve been religiously using my forearm strap, never playing righty without it, and it seems to be helping. When I finish playing, there’s an impression left in my skin for a while. I haven’t iced my arm after playing for a couple of weeks, but did tonight, just in case.

Thursday, January 6, 2021 (No Play)

I didn’t play tonight. We had a family party for one of my brothers for his birthday this week.


I’m going to share a somewhat irrational annoyance. When we restarted club play at Derby in recent months, a new policy for site coordinators regarding the donations envelopes was in effect. In the past, I’d just hung onto them and turned them in when I ran into an appropriate SCPC board member on a court—once or twice a month typically. The new policy is taking a photo of the envelope after each session—which is marked with the park name, date, amount, number of players, and initials (it’s supposed to be two sets of counter initials)—and sending the photo to two board members. Now, this seems a waste of my time. I’ve never lost an envelope in my years as site coordinator—if I did, I’d cover it out of my pocket. Could I make time to do this every week? Sure. (I make time to write this blog, right?) Do I want to? No. It seems like ‘busy work’. Anyway, I shared my thoughts with Mark (new president), John P., and Leslie. Mark said he’d bring it up to the board and see what they think. Maybe it’s time for a new site coordinator. The level of play at Derby on Sundays is not as strong as I’d get at Brommer. It’d be nice to sleep in on Sundays and have more flexibility.

Number of days on a court: 451
Number of total hours: 2,186.5

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

Better! And Nicholas.

Sunday, January 2, 2022 (Court Day #450)

My son Nicholas is flying out tonight back to grad school, but when I asked, he wanted to come play this morning. Last night, I asked Eric S. if he’d be willing to close up the courts for me.

It was a chilly but sunny morning. After I had unlocked the storage bins at 8:45, a woman walked up. She introduced herself as Mary Kay and said she was new. It turns out that she’d played a few times previously very recently but this was her first time to Derby.

Nicholas helped blow off the courts. As I set up, Mary Kay helped carry out some nets.


Nicholas and I had our first game with Allison and a woman, I think her name was Kim. Allison has been at it a couple of years—a weaker intermediate player—and Kim is pretty new. As the game went on, being that this was Nicholas’ second time out in two years, I patiently offered tips between some points. I could tell Nicholas was getting frustrated. I had violated a guideline. That is, before offering advice, always ask permission first. As it was, between Nicholas being tired—lack of sleep—and my frequent unsolicited advice, he got grumpy. It was probably good that skill-level play arrived at 10 a.m. and split us onto different courts. He said things went fine.

As the morning went on, I felt that I wasn’t playing that well. Too many mistakes for my taste.


Last game, Rick and I played against Eric and George. I was expecting to lose, but Rick played well and I played extremely well. We won 9-1. (Given the big group, I’d told everyone to play to 9.) One shot in particular, there were a series of slams from George and Eric at the net with Rick and I back midcourt to backcourt. George then attempted to hit it off the court, slamming the ball near the sideline off to my left. I planted, connected with the ball with my backhand, drove the ball low over the center the net. It was returned, but not slammed and a few shots later, Rick and I had won the rally. It was a really nice shot on my part. It’s those that help get you to being a 4.0+ player. I’m not consistent enough to be there yet.

With things to do, when 11:30 arrived, Nicholas and I were on the road and I left Eric—as arranged—to take over my role as site coordinator.

What did I learn?

Always ask players for permission before giving advice—even your own immediate family!


No tennis elbow. Hanging in there!

Number of days on a court: 450
Number of total hours: 2,183.5

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

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