Tillie Lee

Four times a week, Tillie Lee is on the Pickleball courts. She prefers playing outdoors at Presidio Wall, or with a weekend foursome at Golden Gate Park. “Pickleball people are the best – you can play with anybody.”

Tillie originally played tennis for 25 years. She was a competitive player until health issues forced her to slow down. “I was so depressed, I couldn’t even watch professional tennis,” she said.

A watercolor class at Sharon Art Studio in Golden Gate Park five years ago introduced Tillie to Pickleball. “The window in the Art Studio faced the tennis courts, and I saw them playing Pickleball. I had just seen a program about it on 60 Minutes and I thought that’s what I was seeing.” When she walked by, Carolyn Harvey shouted out, “Come on in. Do you want to try it?”  Once she picked up a paddle, she was hooked. Thankfully, running wasn’t a problem on the smaller court, especially after she started taking jazzercise to get herself in shape.

Unlike her tennis experience, Tillie doesn’t try to play competitive pickleball. “Once you start competing, it’s never the same. Every time you play, you have to win. I just want to go out there and play.”  Aside from developing consistency, Tillie enjoys the challenge of playing with people who have unorthodox styles.  She also favors games where people get excited and make noise after a good rally, like she always does. Barb Fong’s 14-year-old grandson Tyler is one of Tillie’s favorite partners. “That’s another reason I like the game. You can play with kids and everyone enjoys it.”

- Judy Goddess