Lee was honored MVP of the Major League Pickleball (MLP) team Chimeras. Her teammates named her the "Dragon Slayer" she is known for slaying consistent Erne's.
Meet Pro player Lee Whitwell; she is originally from Gibraltar, lived in Bend OR for seven years before moving to the mecca pickleball state of Florida where she now resides.
Lee became a super star as MVP of the Major League Pickleball (MLP) team Chimeras. She was introduced to pickleball in 2016 when a friend asked if she would like to play women's doubles in a tournament. Lee, being from a tennis background, said sure I'll play in a tennis tournament. When she found out it was pickleball Lee asked “what's this game pickleball?” She wasn't into it and said “no way, sounds like something my grandma would play”. Her friend said “try one game and I'll throw in a case of beer”. That got Lee's attention and she was hooked (not on beer, but pickleball)! Lee was an assistant women's tennis coach at the Alliant International University (formerly United States International University) in San Diego.
•. Have you ever been to Port Townsend WA?
No, but I can’t wait to visit!
What steps/process does it take to get to the pros level? Do you work your way up and hope for an invitation? Or does one try out and try to make the cut?
Depending on your background and how easy you find it to adapt to the nuances of pickleball - to get to the pro level it is better to start off playing at your level and advancing up the ranks. The game of pickleball is evolving and changing at lightning speed these days. The worst thing someone with loads of talent and upswing can do is jimmy into pros with both feet and learn on the fly. I’m not saying play at a certain level for a year or any predetermined amount of time - but definitely be selective in where you play. For example - if you are winning at 4.5, then choose to play 5.0 at some smaller tournaments and see how you do there and work your way up to winning at 5.0 at the bigger Tier 1 events or National Championship Series.
•What has been your most memorable moment playing pickleball?
Definitely every single time I stepped on the court for Team Chimeras MLP matches. I had some great moments on the court, but had equallygreat ones being part of this team cheering, coaching, and celebrating with them.
You can watch these two matches here:
Lee Whitwell and Dekel Bar - Singles MLP
Lee Whitwell and Anna Leigh Waters - Women's doubles MLP
•What other hobbies do you have outside of pickleball?
I enjoy short walks to the fridge :-) Seriously, I enjoy hiking, spending time with friends and family. Because the pb tournament world is so hectic and involves quite a bit of travel, when I am home I like to decompress and spend time with my partner, my zoo, and friends/family.
•Do you have any favorite quotes or words of wisdom you would like to share?
One of my favorite quotes and something I try to excel at everyday is this one:
“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”
Thank you to Lee for the time she took out for us. We appreciate you! Come visit us in Port Townsend when you are up in our neck of the woods.
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