Park City Pickleball Club celebrates Fourth of July with tournament
Sport continues to grow in the Park City area
American flags adorned the pickleball courts outside at the PC MARC on Sunday, and the sound of pickleballs being smacked over nets reverberated around the complex. Many players wore white Park City Pickleball Club hats with red text and a blue-and-white pickleball on the front, which were given to participants.
The club held its Stars and Stripes tournament on Sunday, and the scene was the music to president Greg Leitzke’s ears, literally.
“It’s worked really well,” he said. “We have almost 100 players playing today, and a lot of them are dressed in red, white and blue. It’s great, we love it.”
Between the tournament and the club having a spot in the parade down Main Street, it was a big weekend for the Park City Pickleball Club. Leitzke is hoping that pickleball has carved out its own spot in Park City’s Independence Day traditions.
“We like to think that pickleball is one of those sports people play every Fourth of July,” he said. “Demographically, it’s played by all different ages, levels, abilities. So, pickleball fits right into that community-type spirit that the Fourth of July brings out, so I think that’s really healthy.”
With the warmer temperatures and sunny days that come with summer in Park City, the sport is alive and well in the area. Leitzke said the club will likely surpass 1,000 members by the end of the month.
“Pickleball, especially in the summer, continues to grow, and I think that the awareness of pickleball in the city is very high,” Leitzke said. “We’re working with the city to build new courts, both indoor and outdoor. Every time they do a survey asking what kind of interest there is in pickleball, the last time they did it, over 80% replied saying that they either played pickleball or want to learn how to play pickleball in the next year.”
Sunday’s tournament was a blend of healthy competition and social interaction. The latter is what keeps people like Cedric Henley and Carol Hexler coming back for more.
“Everybody here in Park City is so nice and very accommodating that I think that you build a really great friend network,” Henley said. “And pickleball is kind of a commonality that you have. Whether you’re a 4.0-plus (skill) player or a 2.5 player, you can still play together. I think that’s one of the great things about pickleball, it doesn’t matter really the level so much. It’s more of you can make it a real social thing and have fun and play with people.”
Henley served as a tournament director on Sunday, and he appreciated the turnout. The club offered brackets for various skill levels, so anyone could have fun finding competition at their skill level. He noted that the sport is well-suited for an active town like Park City.
“This fits in really well with the (demographic) of pickleball, right?” he said. “Very active, camaraderie, social aspect, outdoors. It kind of checks all of those boxes in Park City.”
Wexler is the social chair for the club and was busy on Sunday making sure that players were fed and hydrated, helping with the setup and assisting the other chairs. She was introduced to the sport by a friend during a trip to Phoenix and was hooked after a lesson.
“Since then, it’s become such a friendly, warm, gracious way of playing a sport outside,” she said. “It’s the most contagious thing I think I’ve ever done, and everybody else says that, too. You get up in the morning, and you say, ‘I want to go play pickleball.’ That’s it. Meet up with friends, make new friends. We all have made some new friends.”
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