This spring, Southern Utah University hosted the first recorded intercollegiate pickleball tournament in the United States. Students from SUU competed against a Dixie State team in 60 intense pickleball matches. SUU came out victorious and is the first winner of the Western Collegiate Team Pickleball Tournament (WCTP).
The team competition consisted of five events: women’s doubles, men’s doubles, mixed doubles, women’s singles and men’s singles. A more experienced SUU squad won the team competition over the Dixie State club by winning four of the five events.
The team event champions for this year were:
Men Singles - Fahad Alotibi, SUU
Women Singles - Aubrey Anderson, DSU
Men Doubles - Eli Wrankle & Tyler Cahoon, SUU
Women Doubles: Cassidy Anderson & Maria Piarulli, SUU
Mixed Doubles: Fahad Alotibi & Caitlyn Glauser, SUU
Students were excited about the event and the opportunity to compete with other university students in a fun, competitive and social atmosphere. They are eager to add members to their club and are currently preparing for next year’s tournament.
Marisa Coburn, a junior athletic training major from Layton, Utah, played doubles for the SUU team. “Pickleball is my escape,” she said. “The tournament was during finals week so it was the perfect opportunity to de-stress by playing a sport I love with people who love it too.”
The tournament organizers Sandy Bryant, Megan Maxfield and Dr. Rick Lambson, professor of exercise science at SUU, all agreed that the event was a huge success in opening the door to collegiate pickleball club competition. Twelve years ago, Dr. Lambson introduced the sport into the curriculum at SUU. There are now over 150 students enrolled in pickleball classes each year.
“Pickleball gained popularity because it’s easy to pick up and has a fast learning curve,” said Lambson. “It can be a social game or a competitive game, depending on who you’re playing.”
Pickleball is a sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton and ping-pong. It’s played with a paddle and a wiffle ball. The net is lower than other racquet sports and the court is smaller which allows a faster game. The game can be played as doubles or singles.
“We all anticipate that in a few short years pickleball will be a major sport,” said Lambson. He believes it will become an Olympic sport in a few years and will be played in the NCAA championships.
SUU has indoor and outdoor Pickleball courts available for the students and community. Purchase an open recreation semester or day pass in the Cashier’s Office located in the Sharwan Smith Center. Students can join the club today by registering online through tbirdconnection.