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Featured Pickler: Leslie Vann wins silver at Minto U.S. Open Pickleball Championships


Photo courtesy of Leslie Vann
Flanking teaching professional Shannon Santoni are silver medalists Leslie Vann and Rick Knight.

A busy week left Leslie Vann with a silver medal from a national tournament, capped by a team championship in a fledgling Tampa Bay area women’s league.


Vann, who routinely plays at the Ardea Country Club in Oldsmar, competed in the Minto U.S. Open Pickleball Championships in Naples for a second straight year with partner Chris Otterbine, who also plays at Ardea.


Once again, they were eliminated in the consolation rounds. Vann then signed up for 3.0 mixed doubles 75-and-over with Rick Knight from Cape Cod and that pair wound up as silver medalists.


“I couldn’t have asked for a better partner,” she said. “He was encouraging; he was positive.”


It helped that Vann took lessons with local professional Shannon Santoni, who often partners in mixed doubles with Vann’s daughter, Stephanie Vann Brown.


With just one day of rest, Vann, who captains the Drop Shot Divas, played in the season finale of a local women’s league that began in February. The Divas defeated the Dinking Buddies at the Hillsborough Community College courts, earning enough points to edge the Dink-Hers 166-162 for the first-ever league title.


Asked if she thought about not playing in the women’s league match after a grueling week of games in Naples, Vann had a matter-of-fact response: “I was on such a high that it never occurred to me.”


Photo courtesy of Leslie Vann

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