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.

May social

Club members got a chance to go outside and play at the PCPC’s May social. The well-attended event included potluck treats, friendly games and of course, plenty of socializing. (Photos by Linda Belgiano)

Members-only tournament

File photo by Randy Weatherly

For a fun, social event with a little bit of competition, sign up for Park City Pickleball Club’s third annual Members-Only Memorial Day Tournament.

The event will be held on Monday, May 29 at the Park City MARC.

Men’s and women’s doubles will be featured at this non-DUPR tournament, with women’s brackets (2.5, 3.0, 3.5, and 4.0+) running from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and men’s brackets (3.0, 3.5, 4.0, and 4.5+) running from 1:30 to 6 p.m.

The cost is $25 per person plus a $5 processing fee.

To sign up, go to PickleballBrackets.com and use code pcpc.

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.

Winter Showdown winners

photos by Randy Weatherly

Over 130 players competed in the Park City Winter Showdown at the Park City MARC. Men’s and women’s doubles were held on Feb. 25, with mixed doubles on Feb. 26.

Medal winners were:

Men’s 2.5/3.0

Gold: Terry Horner and Thomas Thomas

Silver: Brecken Tucker and Kai Heninger

Bronze: Scott Mills and Chuck Richter

Men’s 3.5

Gold: Jeff Danos and David Lonczak

Silver: Jack Loughridge and Bret Loughridge

Bronze: Dan Clark and Pete Saunders

Men’s 4.0/4.5

Gold: Christopher Talbot and David Creasy

Silver: Russell Douglas and Dirk Spangenberg

Bronze: Clay Fletcher and Job Santillan

Women’s 2.5

Gold: Alison Gilmore and Ashlynn Schield

Silver: Cynthia Grazian and Joanna Lamb

Bronze: Kara Straub and Angie Chapman

Women’s 3.0

Gold: Janie Findley and Cathryn Halvorsen

Silver: Molly Maier and Elaine Murray

Bronze: Lea McDill and Janet De Mars

Women’s 3.5

Gold: Angeles Mahe and Soloi Vakalahi

Silver: Susette vanderBeek and Tiena Afu

Bronze: Melissa Allen and Ann McKay

Women’s 4.0

Gold: Brittny Lolohea and Pauline Mili

Silver: Christina Whittier and Brooke Sprouse

Bronze: Amber Lindquist and Yolanda Martinez

Mixed 3.0

Gold: Terry Matyszczyk and Anthony Matyszczyk

Silver: Ronda Bresin and Bruce L. Maw

Bronze: Holley Hendrix and Ken Campbell

Mixed 3.5

Gold: Sydney Slosar and David Lonczak

Silver: Melissa Allen and Mark Frisch

Bronze: Ann McKay and Jeremy Pack

Mixed 4.0/4.5

Gold: Marlo Dwelle and Joseph Plomin

Silver: Emily Ellis and David Creasy

Bronze: Deanna DiBella and Christopher Talbot

Winter Showdown

Registration is now open for the Park City Pickleball Club’s second annual Winter Showdown tournament.

The event will be held Feb. 25 and 26 from 1 to 9 p.m. at the Park City MARC.

Feb. 25 will feature men’s and women’s doubles, with mixed doubles on Feb. 26.

The tournament will use a round-robin format, with brackets for skill levels from 2.5 to 5.0.

To register for the tournament or to sign up as a volunteer, go to PickleballBrackets.com

Happy Holidays

photos by Elaine Murray

Park City Pickleball Club members gathered for good food, good fun and lots of good pickleball games at the annual Holiday Social Dec. 3 at Park City MARC. In addition, scores of toys were collected for donation to the Christian Center’s Operation Hope, spreading holiday spirit to the whole community.

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

Halloween spirit

Photos by Linda Belgiano

Costumed players showed off their trick shots and enjoyed potluck treats at Park City Pickleball Club’s third annual Halloween Party.

The event was held from 5 to 9 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 29 at the Park City MARC, and featured social play among all levels on the indoor courts and in the bubble.

Annual meeting

Upscale ambiance and a fun vibe will make Park City Pickleball Club’s annual meeting unusually festive this year. That’s because the event will be held at the Star Bar in downtown Park City, from 6 to 9 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 22. Appetizers will be served, a cash bar will be available, and up to 300 club members will be on hand to socialize and enjoy the evening.

The brief meeting will include an overview of the past year’s activities, as well as plans for the coming year. The agenda also features a call for nominations for club president, secretary, and several new board positions. There will be reports on indoor play schedules, court development, and the social and tournament calendars. Cost for the event is $20 per person. To sign up, go to LivePickleball.com.