Snapshots from the War Room: A Look into Lea Jansen’s 2023 

Snapshots from the War Room: A Look into Lea Jansen’s 2023 

When speaking about what stands out to her from 2023, Lea Jansen acknowledged all the growth that pickleball has experienced since January.

“I really hope people are documenting this. I hope there were cameras in all the war rooms,” she said. “Because I’m gonna look back on this when I’m 50 years old and just be like, ‘What a time.’”

As so much surrounding the sport and its future has changed since January, Jansen has endured some battles herself throughout a 2023 season that has seen the tour veteran adapt to changing circumstances time and again.

From a realization about her health to a partner carousel on the doubles court, these are the snapshots from Lea Jansen’s 2023 war room.

Singles Stoppage

Since she began competing on the PPA Tour in 2021, Jansen has been a staple on the singles podium. During July’s Baird Wealth Management Seattle Open, however, the 31-year-old announced that it would be her last time competing in singles.

A type 1 diabetic, Jansen cited her health as the primary reason for her retirement from the event that has given her 27 of her 46 tour medals. But having to spend singles day watching the action instead of being a part of it hasn’t been easy.

“The last couple times I’ve been watching it, I would be lying if I said it was hard not to play,” she said.

But she confirms that not playing singles at tournaments has had the desired positive impact on her health.

“I’m not coming home from tournaments about to pass out and die and spending days in bed,” she said. “So that part has been nice.”

Doubles Partner Carousel

Jansen started the year playing women’s doubles with Allyce Jones. The duo caught fire out of the gate, medaling in five of the year’s first seven PPA events. The Spokane, WA native attributes the tandem’s success to their understanding of and adherence to their roles on the court. Even with her and Jones’ success, Jansen’s desire to build her versatility on the court led her to play with six different partners over her next 12 tournaments.

From this experience, Jansen discovered the importance of finding a consistent doubles partner at the pro level.

“It was great because I learned that you can only play with one player,” she said.

Jansen hopes to find that consistency in 2024 where she has committed to partnering with tour newcomer Hurricane Tyra Black. She believes that the wide range of skills she gained from her doubles partner carousel will help as she and Tyra plan their roles and strategy for 2024.

“I’m going to mold to whatever I need to be with her,” she said. “That’s what’s been great about playing with multiple partners—I can be versatile.”

The Year’s Final Battles, and Looking Ahead

Jansen’s battles in 2023 aren’t quite finished yet.

One event she has her eyes on is the CIBC PPA Finals in San Clemente, CA, taking place Nov. 30-Dec. 3. Even after not having played in a singles draw since July, Jansen still sits firmly in qualifying position for the finals. After deciding to put her retirement from singles on hold to compete in the event, she has been training singles again—and she likes how she’s playing.

“It was far and away my best event, so it’s kinda been like, ‘Damn, I was pretty good at this,’” she said.

But even if her return to singles goes as well as it possibly could in San Clemente, Jansen doesn’t want to commit to a full-fledged comeback just yet.

“If there is a comeback, it’s only gonna be for like six or seven [tournaments]”, she said.

Jansen has also qualified for the finals in women’s doubles, but it’s a mixed doubles qualification that would mean the most to her.

“It’s definitely the event that I’ve been working the hardest at,” she said.

Jansen is on the cusp of qualifying in mixed doubles with just one qualifying tournament remaining: the Hertz Gold Cup powered by Tixr in Holly Hill, FL running Nov. 15-19. If she gets a few wins there with partner Federico Staksrud, she could become just the sixth player to qualify for the finals in all three events.

It wouldn’t be a bad way to close out the year.