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March 19, 2024

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Callie Jo Smith

By Alice Tym

Residence: Orem, Utah

Age: 32

Marital Status:  Married with two children, 8 and 5 years old.

Ranking: #4

Favorite Tournament: San Clemente

What is your favorite shot?

My forehand volley and my overhead. I like high balls to hit.


What is the most important shot in pickleball?

The third and fourth shots. The third shot depends upon the person you are playing. You need a penetrating fourth shot. It is a puzzle. You must figure out your opponents; they could even be different that day.


You were a tennis player. What did you bring to pickleball from tennis?

Quickness, good hands, and drive.


What would you tell a good tennis player coming into pickleball?

Not to expect it to be easy. You have to learn to drop and reset, and you must have a third shot drop.


What is the one thing that would improve pickleball?

It would help if players had more recovery time on the tour. There are 35 options of tournaments to play. I am playing 26. Players need time to recover and to train.


What makes a good player?

The motivation and drive to be better. I am never satisfied. I wasn’t always best at everything. I had to work hard. I try to be my best self. I was the kid who always asked, “How much extra credit can I get?” I’ve always been in competition with myself.


Why is the two-handed backhand such an asset in the game?

It is a power shot that can be hit behind you. It is good for countering. Tennis players are used to it. Even Ben Johns has started using it.


You recently started a business. Tell us about it.

I have started a clothing line— My favorite color is turquoise. We have shirts, jackets, joggers, tank tops, sweats, and windbreakers.


What about training meals and drinks?

I eat a lot of fish and veggies. I drink protein smoothies. Lots of green salads with protein on top.


What do you think about on the first point?

Typically, we talk about the game plan, who to hit to, who to return to—you need a solid plan so you can adjust if necessary. I think about getting to the kitchen first. That will give us the best chance of winning.


Where do you see pickleball in the next five years?

There will be a lot more younger players, more 16- to 20-year-olds. There will be more slams, more people playing, improved paddle technology, tiered levels—everyone can play.


If you could invite any three people for dinner, who would it be?

Actor Liam Hemsworth, my all-time favorite tennis player Roger Federer, and my grandpa. He meant the world to me. He was one of my coaches in tennis. I always wanted to be around him.


What is something few people know about you?

I have a twin sister and twin brothers. There are six kids in our family. My twin sister is the opposite of me. She is fire to my ice. She is my best friend.


Utah has so many beautiful parks. Which is your favorite?

I love to hike at Bridal Veil Falls in Provo Canyon.


Where would you love to travel?

I would like to visit Greece and I hear New Zealand is beautiful.


What is your dream day?

I would be on a beach in the sunshine, no clouds, looking for seashells, not have a care in the world, with a chocolate chip cookie in my hand.  •

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