Local Picklers Ready to Welcome Newbies

A spirited conversation about pickleball at the dinner table recently spurred a lot of banter. Why is it named pickleball? It’s the fastest growing sport in the country. My friend tore her ACL playing it last week. Is there a league in Talbot County? Do you play on a tennis court? Where can you play?

Many will agree that pickleball is a social activity as much as it’s a sport. Photographs courtesy of Pickleheads.

In the end, there were a lot more questions than answers, which makes great material for a “good news” article in Attraction magazine. On the Mid Shore, awareness for pickleball has increased in recent years, which is in tune with countrywide stats.

According to Brandon Mackie, co-founder of Pickleheads, an online community of pickleball fanatics, “Pickleball – a cross between tennis, badminton, and ping-pong – is the fastest-growing sport in America.”

And just about everywhere you turn on the Mid Shore pickleball is being played, talked about and planned.

A year ago, Mowbray Park in Stevensville opened 10 dedicated pickleball courts with open play from 9 a.m. to noon and 5 to 8 p.m. daily. David Haber is director of player development for the Crabby Pickleball Club and serves as pickleball pro at Prospect Bay Country Club in Grasonville. Those credentials alone convey the sport’s popularity here on the Mid Shore.

“Pickleball is exploding; we have local tournaments for all ages, as well as leagues for competitive players,” explains David, who also teaches private lessons. The Queen Anne’s County Family YMCA in Centreville also has 12 courts available. Round Top Park in Chestertown will have pickleball courts soon.

Wellness Director at the Kent County Family YMCA Ryan Smith said, “When we first started playing pickleball at our location a few years ago, we only had 12 people coming in regularly to play. Now, we expect anywhere between 30 to 40 players during our open play hours, with some of our picklers getting really good.”

Ryan adds, “Pickleball is beautiful because it manages to be fast-paced without being intimidating, complex without being complicated, and easy to learn without being boring once you have the general idea. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen anyone pick up a paddle and have a bad time.”

Ryan suggested learning about pickleball by visiting the Kent YMCA between 9 and 11 a.m. on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday every week where there are six indoor courts.

Aaron Hutt, director of racquet sports at the Easton Family YMCA on Washington Street, invites new players on the first Friday of the month at 6 p.m. for a “non-expectational” opportunity to learn more about the sport.

Ten outdoor pickleball courts are located at the YMCA on Peachblossom Road in Easton.
Photograph courtesy of the Easton YMCA.

Aaron states that “much of the [sport’s] development is due to increased opportunities to access lessons and open play.” The Y in Easton for example has 10 dedicated outdoor courts, 4 dedicated indoor, 18 for tournaments outdoors and 11 for indoor tournaments. In the fall, the Easton Y will introduce its inaugural “team pickleball league,” which should prove to be successful.

Who can play pickleball? That’s the thing – everyone can play. It is touted as playable for anyone and everyone. “Pickleball is a sport for all ages. Anyone from age 5 to 95 can play and have fun,” said Brandon.

Another reason why pickleball is so appealing is that it can be played indoors or out; played as singles or doubles; and it can be social and fun or fast-paced and competitive.

Brandon added, “The magic of pickleball is it’s easy to learn, but hard to master. Beginners can go out their first time, learn the game, have fun, and even win a few games. But advanced players stay challenged and keep coming back for more. This dynamic is a big reason why pickleball continues to grow like crazy.”

Glenn Wong, the unofficial social ambassador of pickleball in Dorchester County, jumped off the pickleball court and called this author back while driving home to talk about the game he is so passionate about. Glenn admits that “pickleball is a strange name for a fun game.” Glenn explains it like this, “You get used to the rules the first game and you’re hooked by the second game.”

An avid tennis and volleyball player in his youth, Glenn explains that pickleball is not only about power, but good reflexes. He suggests newcomers visit the Glasgow Tennis Courts next to Sandy Hill Elementary School in Cambridge on Tuesdays at 5:30 p.m. to learn the game. There is open play daily from 9 a.m. to noon as well. The Dorchester YMCA has open play from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Monday through Friday as well.

The folks playing pickleball at the General James F. Fretterd Community Center in Denton are welcoming and play mostly for fun. “We have a friendly group who are willing to help get someone started,” explained Linda Rees, of the Caroline County Recreation and Parks. When asked if pickleball is as fun as it sounds, Linda said, “According to the people that come to play, it’s even funner!” With three courts in the gym, there is drop-in pickleball available on Tuesday and Wednesday from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. and Fridays from 10 a.m. to noon. It costs $5 at the door.

When Ryan was asked if pickleball is as fun as it sounds, he responded, “Even more so. People hear ‘ping pong on a tennis court’ and get the wrong idea. Pickleball is easy to pick up, and you’ll never stop learning new ways to love it.”

Pickleball Trivia

Pickleball was the brainstorm of three dads on Bainbridge Island, Washington, looking for a fun, creative way to entertain their kids during the summer of 1965. The sport we know today was founded as a fun way the family could play together.

The game was devised to entertain the children at the summer home of Joel Pritchard, his friend Bill Bell and neighbor Barney McCallum. However, it quickly caught the attention of the adults who began playing it more and more.

Pickleball was a new game that combined elements from three sports, ping-pong, tennis and badminton. The idea of naming it came about because a pickle boat in crew is where oarsmen were selected from the leftovers of other boats. Pickleball is a combination of sports and a pickle boat combined crew members. Regardless, the name pickleball is catchy and it stuck.

Pickleball was named the official state sport of Washington in 2022. It was signed by Governor Jay Inslee on the original Pritchard family court where the sport was invented.

Pickleball rules can be confusing for many when they first start out. Phrases like The Kitchen, Dink, Rally, Lob, Possession, and Side Out aren’t necessarily intuitive. Not to mention that three numbers are used for scoring. The following video on YouTube was very helpful: “How to Play Pickleball: The Ultimate Guide on Pickleball Rules” by ThatPickleballGuy.

A pickleball racket is smaller than a tennis racket and larger than a ping-pong paddle. Photographs courtesy of David Haber.

Mid Shore Locations to Play Pickleball


General James F. Fretterd Community Center, Denton

Wheeler Park at Lockerman Middle School, Denton

Fourth Street Park, Denton

Ober Park, Greensboro

Goldsboro Community Park, Goldsboro


Easton Family YMCA – Peachblossom Road

Easton Family YMCA – Washington Street

Perkins Family YMCA – St. Michaels

Talbot County Community Center, Easton (8 outdoor courts)

Causeway Park, Oxford


Cambridge Tennis Park, Cambridge

James G. Busick Tennis Courts

Pauline F. & W. David Robbins Family YMCA, Cambridge

Glasgow Tennis Courts, Cambridge

Dorchester County Athletic Complex

Queen Anne’s County

Gunston School, Centreville

Grasonville Park

Mowbray Park, Stevensville

Queen Anne’s County Family YMCA, Centreville


Kent County Community Center, Worton

Kent County Family YMCA, Chestertown

Coming soon! Round Top Park, Chestertown

Learn More







New Pickleball Courts Open at Talbot County Community Center

The Talbot County Department of Parks and Recreation opened eight new pickleball courts at the Community Center in July.

The courts, located on the east side of the Community Center property, feature individually fenced-in playing surfaces. The construction project also includes new accessible paths and improved landscaping. The project was funded in part by the Local Parks and Playground Infrastructure grant issued by the State of Maryland. The Council approved the project in August of 2022.

“We wanted to open the courts as soon as possible, but we do have a couple more items to add before the project is completed, including adding trash cans, picnic tables, signage, and additional landscaping” said Talbot Department of Parks and Recreation Director, Preston Peper. “In the future, we aim to add lights, water, and electric to increase playing time and facility capabilities.”

First Come, First Serve

The courts will be open to the public daily from dawn to dusk, on a first come, first serve basis, subject to private event closing. If courts are crowded, rules will be posted for rotation guidelines.  Bathrooms are available in the Community Center during normal business hours.

Reservations for Private Events

Talbot Parks and Recreation can provide information on reserving court space for private events. This option is great for tournaments, private lessons, workshops, or classes.

Classes and Workshops

Parks and Recreation will offer several classes and workshops throughout the year to give individuals a chance to learn the game of pickleball, or to up their game with advanced training.  Follow Talbot Parks and Recreation on Facebook and Instagram for upcoming classes and workshops.

“I know how excited some folks are about the new courts” said Council Member Dave Stepp, who also serves as the Council’s liaison to the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board. “Pickleball is a great activity for all ages, and having a public location to play will allow expanded access to our residents.”

The pickleball courts construction precedes another greatly anticipated project, the new gymnasium addition.

Scheduled to be completed in early 2024, the gymnasium addition will include two basketball courts, two volleyball courts, bathrooms, and storage space. Indoor pickleball courts will also be available.

The space will also be available for rent for a variety of events which could include athletic tournaments, college fairs, banquets, and weddings. The project is being funded by the County and Program Open Space.

For more information, contact Parks and Recreation at parks@talbotcountymd.gov or 410-770-8050.

At the end of each game, regardless of how anyone performed, players tap paddles as a sign of good sportsmanship.
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Allison Rogers



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