LOCAL NEWS

Orem ranks No. 2 in top cities in the nation for pickleball

Jan 20, 2024, 3:39 PM | Updated: 3:42 pm

Matthew Liu, Swan Saunders and Calvin Bishara pose for a photo after competing in a national pickle...

Matthew Liu, Swan Saunders and Calvin Bishara pose for a photo after competing in a national pickleball tournament in Las Vegas in October 2023. (Calvin Bishara)

(Calvin Bishara)

OREM — Pickleball is one of the nation’s fastest-growing recreational activities and Utah’s pickleball scene is no different.

TeachMe. To, an online sports network for sports lessons, released its annual pickleball report and Utah was ranked the fourth-best state for pickleball based on the number of coaches. Orem was ranked No. 2 in the nation for top pickleball cities, with Provo, Mapleton, Springville and American Fork also making it into the top 50.

Local pickleball fanatic Calvin Bishara, 24, said the sport has helped him bond with his sister. Bishara used to live in Saratoga Springs but moved to Provo so he could be closer to Club Pickleball USA in Orem.

After his sister Swan Saunders got married, Bishara felt he wasn’t as close to her. Once they started playing pickleball together, it helped their relationship grow as they were more consistently spending time together.

Bishara and Saunders decided to start participating in tournaments. In the first three they entered, they got knocked out immediately. They pushed on and continued to improve their skills and snatched third place at a national tournament in Las Vegas a few months ago.

“It’s easy to learn, but it’s really difficult to master, so it’s a really good sport to pick up,” he said. “It is a really family-friendly sport, so it’s an activity families do that helps bring them closer together. It’s fun, it’s active, it’s good for your body to be exercising.”

Another benefit to pickleball

Besides bonding with his sister, Bishara loves how social pickleball is. Bishara has been able to meet new people and make more friends through playing at Club Pickleball USA and said almost every time he does drop-in games, he will see someone he knows.

“Everyone’s really friendly, really nice, and every time I go to the club there’s someone I know. I feel like I’m home there,” he said.

Bishara recently traveled to Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand and was able to play pickleball with people in each country. He said he is grateful how many connections he can make through the sport.

During the pandemic and after, the pickleball community in Utah “kind of exploded,” Bishara said.

Because pickleball is a sport with low impact on your body, it caters to a wide variety of people and is really inclusive, he said. Bishara has played against people with leg disabilities, oxygen tanks and other physical limitations.

Bishara said when he first started playing, he assumed that because he was more athletic than his opponents, he would easily win. But people who were decades older than him or way bigger than him would easily beat him. At the club, he has played against some “super talented” kids ages 8 to 14 who “are way better than I am.”

Pickleball has become an important part of Bishara’s life in many ways, and it’s clear his favorite hobby won’t be changing anytime soon.

“A lot of kids my age will go out and party and drink and stuff on the weekends, but I just go play pickleball on the weekends,” Bishara said.

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Orem ranks No. 2 in top cities in the nation for pickleball