By Lucy Kitcher, GAMMA Contracted Player Team Manager and GAMMA Contracted Player
Hi. My name is Lucy Kitcher and I’m from England, but I currently live in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I am a professional pickleball player and love to travel to tournaments all over the world. I also run pickleball trips and tournaments internationally! I play for GAMMA Pickleball, a family owned company based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and I also represent Kitch apparel. I have been playing pickleball for four years.
Two years ago, just before the U.S. Open, I decided I wanted to do more than just PLAY pickleball. I was working in an elementary school, but I figured I could begin to share my love of pickleball with others. Knowing I couldn’t do this alone, I needed to find a company that could help me grow. That was when I met the GAMMA family and I knew this was where I needed to be.
GAMMA was just getting started in pickleball at that time and they had just released their 2.0 paddle series. With a Nomex core, the paddles were well constructed and perfect for recreational play. I tried all the paddles in the series and chose to play with the Phaser 2.0 as my first GAMMA paddle. It turned out to be a good choice, because at my first tournament with this paddle in Atlanta, I won three 5.0 medals – a gold, a silver, and a bronze. These paddles were a great starting point, not just GAMMA, but for myself as well.
Like me, GAMMA wanted to take their game to the next level, which meant we both needed a new paddle. As a player I wanted to have more control, more power and less vibration. When GAMMA sent me two experimental paddles I was so excited! I couldn’t decide which one I liked best – one had a little more control and the other had more power. These two experimental paddles went on to become the Mirage and the RZR. In August 2017, I chose the experimental Mirage to play with in a non-sanctioned tournament in Beach Mountain where it helped me win gold with my partner JoAnne Russell!
Just before it was time for me to go back to work in the elementary school, I decided to take a professional sabbatical leave so I could see if it was possible to make pickleball a career. Coach Russell was ready to retire from his tournament business and asked me if I would like to take over. Not knowing what the future held I agreed to take on three of his tournaments.
After attending an ambassador trip to Club Med I decided to offer a similar experience to all the pickleball addicts at an affordable price. With six courts, 24 participants, daily clinics and organized pickleball play, my first all-inclusive pickleball trip in October was a big hit!
Very impatiently, I waited for USAPA to approve the new GAMMA paddles. Finally, in October 2017 I was able to use the Mirage for the first time at Chicken and Pickle, where I won two more medals with Brian Ashworth and Bobbie Phoumy.
I loved the Mirage so much I was a little reluctant to try GAMMA’s n
ew elongated paddles last year – the Needle and Pin. Eventually I tried the Needle and loved it. I played with it in a match with my partner Aspen Kern against Kyle Yates and Abbie David. This match has become one of the most watched pickleball videos ever with over 540,000 views.
Scan this QR code to see the video.
Before pickleball, I never played a racquet sport. While I loved the extra reach I had when playing with the Needle, eventually I went back to the more traditional shaped Mirage as it seemed to work better for my game.
In the summer of 2018, I was preparing to go back to work in the elementary school. Right before I had to make my decision to go back or not, I received a phone call from GAMMA that they wanted to make my dream to become full-time in pickleball a reality. GAMMA asked me to help them put together a team of contracted players and be the team manager. This enabled me to start doing more pickleball trips and to run more tournaments, both of which I love!
In November 2018, at the USAPA National Championships, I had the opportunity to try another new experimental GAMMA paddle. I tried it and fell in love with it instantly, but I very quickly put it down because I knew that the approval process could be lengthy! Then, right before the US Open, I received word that the new series of paddles had been approved. The LEGEND, COMPASS, and SHARD were all ready in time for the 2019 US Open. GAMMA delivered my paddle to me the day before the tournament and I had no intention of switching to a new paddle for the event, but after I put it in my hand I knew I had to use it. GAMMA has hit the jackpot with the new thicker core (NeuCore) paddles. The new series of paddles have a bigger honeycomb core, softer touch, bigger sweet spot, and of course, what GAMMA has always been known for – their amazing grips.
These last two years have been an adventure, and I’m looking forward to many more to come as GAMMA and I both continue to grow in pickleball.
If you want to improve your pickleball skills and strategies, sign up for one of my affordable pickleball all-inclusive vacations. I also do lessons and clinics at all of my tournaments. For more information on my tournaments and trips, visit Lucy Kitcher Pickleball at ZeroZeroStay.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to my mailing list.