The Utah Tech competitive pickleball team secured its bid for the 2023 collegiate national championship after going 22-2 during the Arizona Regional Tournament March 25-26.
This is the second time the team has gotten a bid for the national championship. The team walked away with $2,000 and new friendships that were made among other competing athletes.
Hunter Aiono, a sophomore information technology major from Las Vegas, said the bid proves the team’s performance last season was not a fluke, and the team deserves to compete against other top schools.
Dylan Ciampini, a freshman recreation and sports management major from Riverdale, said: “Our team played amazing. Our men’s team was handed their very first loss ever which was shocking to [Grand Canyon University]. What you’re gonna see with college pickleball is that the guys are really, really good. And they can’t find girls at the same level. That’s where Utah Tech kind of has an edge on everyone else.”
The bid allows the athletes to focus on preparing for the national championship and replacing the graduating student-athletes. The team will also focus more on speed and agility workouts once the fall starts.
“We have a lot planned in the fall,” Aiono said. “We’re going to play in two more regionals to hone our skills, even though we don’t need the bids.”
The pickleball club at Utah Tech has the most recurring members at club events each week. Club night is held on Tuesdays from 9 p.m. to midnight at The Picklr.
Club founder Matthew Morgan, a senior accounting major from St. George, said, “I think [founding the club] taught me more than what I learned in school because it’s like building a business – finding the right people and then leaving it off at a good standpoint.”
Utah Tech students are able to learn, compete and socialize each time they participate at pickleball club.
“If you want to have that competitive outlet, come and play pickleball,” Ciampini said.