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PicklePod: Lea Jansen Talks Paddles, Drug Testing, Line Calls and More

by Jason Flamm on

Lea Jansen has had a tremendous 2024 so far. Hopefully, coming on the PicklePod (subscribe to the podcast) doesn’t derail her hot start to the season. The recent PPA Houston Women's Singles champion dropped by to chat it up with Zane Navratil and Thomas Shields.

Lea engages in a lively discussion with Zane and Thomas in the episode, sharing insights on the current state of pro pickleball among many other topics. 

The tea is hot, and the library is open. Let’s go.

Zane’s perspective on JOOLA paddles failing

"We certainly care," Zane said when asked about all the JOOLA paddles that have reportedly been failing lately.

In his opinion, there’s no reason why pros should have to use the same paddles available to the public, and he brings up that this isn’t done in other sports.

“If I wanted Roger Federer’s tennis racket, I can’t get the same thing.”

Lea makes her triumphant return to the show

It may not seem like it, but it’s been a year since Lea joined the PicklePod. The three discuss what’s happened since Red Rock last year and discover it’s much of the same.

For those who don't know, Jansen regularly podiums at PPA Tour events. Just recently, she celebrated her first Women's Singles gold medal in over three years (PPA Houston). At this past weekend's Red Rock Open, she bagged a silver in Women's Singles and a gold in Women's Doubles (alongside Tina Pisnik).

Fed Continues to Make a Statement While Johns Bros Get Pickled Among PPA Red Rock Takeaways
The Johns brothers get pickled, Tina Pisnik and Mary Brascia win their first gold medals and more Fed dominance at the PPA Red Rock in Utah.

Why Lea quit singles and then returned

Lea provides more background about why she retired from singles and then decided to return several months later. 

"It’s like that ex-boyfriend," she says, "that you really love, but it’s not good for you."

Drug testing and line calls

As much as pickleball changes, it very much stays the same. Last year on the pod, Lea spoke passionately about drug testing and improving line calls. Those are still her main concerns this year. 

"It’s a year later, and I know it’s not going to happen."

Inconsistencies in paddle testing

Many pros are unhappy with the way paddles are tested. Zane and Lea rap about paddles and how they (unfairly) eliminate skill gaps between players. 

"Some companies get away with X thing, and other companies don’t," Zane said.

They discuss the ever-changing paddle technology and how the goalposts seem to keep moving.

The upper limit of power

Where would Lea Jansen set the standard for power, and what paddle would she model it after?

"I would be pretty lame and set it back to 2021," she says, "and use the Engage Maverick."

Of course, the question has to be asked: why do pros (like Lea) use super-powerful paddles?

She explains that she has to do it out of necessity because that's clearly where the game is going.

Lea's beef with The Dink's Power Rankings

Power ranking anything is always a very subjective exercise. Find out who Lea believes The Dink got right and wrong and which women players are on the rise.

The Dink’s Latest Top 20 Women’s Doubles Power Rankings
While the top spots haven’t changed since our initial Women’s Doubles Power Rankings came out, there is significant movement in our Top 20 this time around.

All in all a very entertaining episode with one of the more colorful personalities on the women's side of the sport.


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Jason Flamm

Jason Flamm

Jason is a writer from St. Louis. He’s been a coach in several sports and is currently working on his pickleball coaching certification. He loves to teach and share his passions.

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