Lea Jansen playing pickleball
Lea Jansen at the Veolia Desert Ridge Open. PPA Tour

Jansen: “Playing singles is like that ex-boyfriend that you loved, but was not good for you” 

DALLAS, TX – During a recent interview on the PicklePod podcast, PPA pro Lea Jansen compared playing singles to a romantic relationship off the court.

“Singles is like that ex-boyfriend that you really loved, but was not good for you. That was singles for me. It’s great when it’s good, but it’s this whole mental up and down that I probably put too much of my emotion in it. A bad singles day for me is like the death of my dog, it’s hard for me to get over,” she said.

Jansen has actually retired from singles competition, but she made a brief return at one point. 

With respect to Jansen's metaphor, I see her point. She made that claim from a health As a Type 1 diabetic, she must continually monitor her blood sugar levels. Singles is exceptionally demanding, so the game is naturally tougher for her.

Despite the physical challenges, though, she couldn’t stay away for long. 

It’s exactly like that bad boyfriend (please, we’ve all had one) that you know isn't great for you, but you still love them so much. You keep going back for more.

Are racket sports a larger metaphor for romance? Or worse – a toxic relationship? 

On the heels of the recently released “Challengers” tennis romance movie starring Zendaya, this definitely caught my attention. A major theme in the film is that playing singles in tennis (or pickleball) is like a temporary romantic relationship with your opponent that only lasts as long as the match does.

It’s a dance between the two competitors who are looking each other in the eye and testing their limits, playing to their own personal strengths, and discovering and exploiting weak spots. That sounds like a pretty messy relationship, doesn’t it? Textbook toxic relationship. 

But, it’s addictive. Players. Keep. Coming. Back. 

They can’t get enough. It’s the endorphins, the glory, the high of a victory, then a horrible crash following a loss. There’s so much emotion involved because of the players’ passion and love of the game. Put them on Humana Championship Court and it’s no wonder there are shrieks of joy and anguished cries.

That kind of emotion is what makes some of the best athletes. It’s the same kind of passion present in any romantic relationship, especially a lover’s spat. 

The fighting, the compromising, the intensity. It’s all comparable to a love affair on the court.

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