University of Maryland, College Park courts. Photo by Dorothy Hood.

Paddle Power: Pickleball takes the Bay Region by storm

Almost every city in the Chesapeake Bay region has its own Facebook pickleball group. From Baltimore to Eastport, there are designated times and places for players of all skill levels: beginner, intermediate, and advanced. 

Pickleball, a recreational sport suitable for all ages, features straightforward rules, making it easy to learn and enjoyable to play, according to USA Pickleball. Once you develop the basics of the sport, the game can get competitive quickly. 

Stacie Townsend is the founder and CEO of Pickler, a business committed to promoting and encouraging people to play pickleball. She said that the game can be played as doubles or singles and the same rules apply for both. Players choose who serves first, then that person will serve to the other side to the person diagonal to them.

There is a two-bounce rule, both the serve and the return must bounce. Shots in the court or on the lines are “in”. The serving team is the only one allowed to score, until returned to the other side, after a serving rotation from each player on that side. 

Maryland is full of courts both indoor and outdoor as well as free and rentable courts. Annapolis Pickleball Club is a great place to start. They have been running for nine years as a non-profit membership association offering the sport to “enthusiasts of all ages, backgrounds and abilities.”

The club provides members with times, places and age groups of pickleball games in the Annapolis area. They also offer an open tournament that anyone is welcome to sign up for, which starts starts Sept. 22 and ends Sept. 24. 

University of Maryland, College Park courts. Photo by Dorothy Hood

The Mayor of Annapolis, Gavin Buckley, appointed Sara Aiken as the first ambassador for pickleball in 2019. Aiken is a long-time evangelist of the sport and is also the founder of Eastport Pickleball.  

“This designation makes it easier to advocate for the sport and for showcasing the economic importance and health advantages of the game,” Aiken said.

Another hot pickleball spot is Havre de Grace. Their first pickleball court was constructed in 2018 as an outdoor court adjacent to the city marina and Millard Tydings Memorial Park. This court offers users a waterfront view and beautiful foliage for everyone to enjoy. The park remains open until sunset!

Havre de Grace offers indoor courts as well, helpful on chilly nights or extremely hot days. The STAR Centre repurposed Havre de Grace High School gymnasium in 2022 for the indoor courts.

Chesapeake, Virginia also has both indoor and outdoor courts all accessible to anyone curious. Pickleball can be played on tennis courts as well, although the court markings may require slight adjustments.

For guaranteed availability, courts are available to rent for $3 per hour by calling 757-382-6411 for more information. Outdoor court lights are available from 5-8 a.m. for early risers and 5-10 p.m. for night owls. Join the thousands already taking part in this fun sport and find courts anywhere here.