PC player goes pro

Maureen O’Malia of the Park City Pickleball Club was recently drafted by the OKC Punishers.

(The following article was written by Reporter Parker Malatesta and published with permission from KPCW Radio. To read the original story on KPCW’s website, click here.)

Mareen O’Malia grew up playing competitive tennis, and a few years back, her mother encouraged her to try a new sport.

“She’s like, ‘Oh, come give this pickleball thing a try.’ And I’m like, ‘What? No, no, no, not for me.” She’s like, ‘Come on, just try it one time, come with a group.’ And you know I went out there, within 10 minutes I was like, ‘Oh my gosh this is awesome,’” O’Malia said.

She moved to Park City in 2020 and instantly got involved with the Park City Pickleball Club. Shortly thereafter, she joined the pickleball team at the MARC, coaching at all levels, from beginner to advanced.

“In the meantime also I got to know a bunch of people, began competing — there’s great tournaments in this whole area in Utah,” O’Malia said. “Even during COVID, they were still running pickleball tournaments. And so I kind of got back into my competitive mode from my tennis years, and it’s just taken off from there.”

As pickleball has grown in popularity throughout the U.S., so have professional teams.

The National Pickleball League is starting its inaugural season this year for champion pros, which is specifically for athletes over the age of 50.

A combine was held in March in Oklahoma City for teams to evaluate prospective players, and O’Malia decided to give it a go.

“So they did the combine and they had a draft, just like you’d have the draft for the NBA or the NFL,” she said.

The combine did not involve a 40-yard dash, although O’Malia said that has been a fixture at other pickleball combines.

“We played matches in the morning and afternoon, they kept all the results,” she said. “And they had lots of scouts there, they had all the team owners there watching people.”

O’Malia felt her chances of being drafted were good, and she felt her altitude training in Park City gave her a bonus.

“They ran a draft a couple of weeks later, and I got drafted, which is super exciting. I got drafted by the Oklahoma City team called the OKC Punishers. And so our season starts in about two weeks.”

Just like the big leagues, O’Malia felt the team executives were likely making moves at the draft party in Florida.

“I’m sure there was trading and wheeling and dealing going on,” she said.

In total, 48 women and 48 men were drafted across six teams. Matches will be played across the country this summer, exclusively at Chicken N Pickle, which is essentially a big indoor/outdoor sports bar with pickleball courts. The top two teams will battle it out in Phoenix in October.

O’Malia said she still plays tennis occasionally, but has fallen in love with pickleball because of its accessibility and social element.

“It’s super fun, the court is small, and you can get good at pickleball really, really quickly,” she said. “You can go out there and within an hour you’re doing it, you’re having fun, you’re having success, and there’s very few sports that are like that.”

People can stay updated on O’Malia’s endeavors in the National Pickleball League by visiting the league’s Youtube page.

Pickleball in Kenya

Former PCPC President Greg Leitzke recently sent greetings from Kenya. While Greg and his wife, Kathy, were volunteering at a hospital and school there, they were able to build a new pickleball court with funds donated by their club in Arizona. The Leitzkes said they had a great time teaching the kids to play pickleball.

Annual board election

The election for two current and three new board positions is going on now, and will continue through midnight on Nov. 30.

To cast your vote, go to your Park City home page on LivePickleball.com and click on the yellow banner at the top of the page.

The club members who have accepted their nominations to run for office are:

President: Joe Plomin

Secretary: Doris Schmidt

Organized Play Director: John Draheim

Social Director: Elaine Murray

Tournament Director: Greg Leitzke

Survey: action required

The Park City Pickleball Club has been working closely with the MARC on both indoor and outdoor court development. Park City Recreation is convinced we need dedicated indoor courts and an additional outdoor court complex. It is seeking funding to build six dedicated indoor courts at the MARC and a new complex at Quinn’s Junction.

As part of that process, Park City Recreation is conducting a survey to help prioritize the need for more pickleball facilities among other recreational offerings. The goal of the survey is to capture the “voice of the community” for City Council.

It is critical that the Park City pickleball community complete this survey. Please have each member of your household complete it, and pass it along to any friends and family members who are interested in more pickleball options in Park City.

To access the survey, click HERE.

PC Pickleball Club on TV

Park City Television

Check out Park City Pickleball Club President Greg Leitzke’s recent appearance on Park City Television. In an interview with PCTV Mountain Connections Host Christine Napier, Leitzke discusses the club’s growth, the need for more courts and the proposed pickleball-related changes to the city’s Land Management Code.

Ordinances proposed

Photo by John Beagle

Park City Municipal staff are seeking public input on pickleball-related changes to the city’s Land Management Code. The proposed changes would regulate how pickleball courts can be built and used at private residences.

Members of the public are invited to learn more and voice their opinions at two Pickleball Virtual Open House events, to be held Monday, Feb. 7 from 5 to 6 p.m. and Tuesday, Feb. 8 from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Zoom links to the virtual events can be found at ParkCity.org. Items to discuss include limits on play hours, noise mitigation requirements, and HOA approval requirements.  

The proposed regulations will be given to the Park City Planning Commission for review on Feb. 23, according to KPCW News. While created for residential courts, the code changes could also affect development of public courts. Park City Pickleball Club is not taking a position on this topic.

Planning committee

A major goal for Park City Pickleball Club is to build a dedicated pickleball facility in Summit County.
As the first step in this process, we are forming a committee that will be responsible for planning the organization, development and funding of the pickleball complex. The challenge is difficult, and it will take some great people to make this happen. It will most likely require a one- to three-year commitment, but the finished product will be well worth the effort.
Who would like to serve on this committee? If you are willing to help, please send an email to parkcitypickleballclub@gmail.com.

  • Greg Leitzke, PCPC President

MARC resumes doubles play

Doubles play is allowed again at PC MARC – but only if masks are worn during play. “Masks are now required anytime (including playing/exercising) when 6-feet social distancing cannot be maintained,” explained Recreation Coordinator Cole Johnston. “Because we cannot guarantee 6 feet of social distance during doubles play, doubles will be required to wear masks at all times.”

Singles play is still available. All courts must be reserved in advance. Pickleball Skillz n’ Drillz Clinics and Pickleball Monthly Clinics have both resumed under the mask requirement.

The PC Pickleball Club’s organized Saturday play in the Bubble has been postponed until Jan. 9, and round robins remain on hold for now.

Pickleball to resume at Basin

Basin Recreation plans to resume all pickleball-related activities on Nov. 30. However, given the current COVID-19 numbers and high transmission level, face coverings will be required in the Fieldhouse at all times. This requirement applies to all programming, fitness classes and exercise. Recreation and Aquatics Coordinator Sydney Bull said that Basin Rec will continue to monitor the situation daily and adjust when prudent. Those with questions and concerns about membership are asked to call Matt Strader at (435) 655-0999 ext. 14. 

To control capacity, drop-in pickleball will be by reservation only starting Nov. 30. The Fieldhouse pickleball courts are limited to 12 people for 90-minute blocks. Reservations can be made one week in advance with no fee associated if you have a Fieldhouse facility membership and active Mindbody account. If you are interested in purchasing a daily drop-in pass, contact The Fieldhouse front desk to reserve your spot at (435) 655-0999. All pickleball clinics and socials will still require registration through Basin Rec’s recreation software, DASH online.

Please wear your face coverings at all times inside of the facility and during pickleball play.

If you have any questions, please contact the Fieldhouse front desk or Sydney Bull at sydney@basinrecreation.org or 435-655-0999 ext.16.