Looking for a new way to stay active this winter? You may want to consider trying your hand at the fastest-growing sport in America—pickleball. Often described as a hybrid of tennis, badminton and ping pong, pickleball has been around since 1965, but recently experienced a meteoric rise in popularity.
Up until recently, there weren’t many places dedicated exclusively to the sport of pickleball on the South Shore, which meant most games were played using temporary nets on tennis courts or gymnasium floors. That all changed in the spring of 2021, however, when friends Lisa DeMeritt and Wanda Melampy opened Pickles, the region’s first state-of-the-art climate-controlled indoor pickleball facility.
Pickles occupies a 25,000-square-foot complex in Hanover and features six tournament-sized courts, two “dinking” practice courts, a players’ lounge with viewing deck, an indoor refreshment garden where guests can sip beer or wine in between games, and a retail shop. All of the courts are designed to meet regulation guidelines, with easy-to-see lines, bright colors, and appropriate SportMaster playing surfaces.
Photo by Jack Foley
DeMeritt and Melampy have a shared passion for the sport of pickleball and are excited to be able to offer a place where friends, families and colleagues can come together to play the game and socialize. They also enjoy introducing the sport to newcomers. Since the rules of the game are fairly simple and you don’t have to be a super fit athlete to play, pickleball can be enjoyed by people of all ages and abilities.
“It’s addicting,” says DeMeritt, who was first introduced to pickleball in 2020. As it happens, she wasn’t the only person to get hooked on the game that year. In fact, while 2020 quarantine restrictions were shuttering gyms around the country, portable pickleball nets started selling like hotcakes. According to the Sport and Fitness Industry Association (SFIA), the sport grew by a whopping 21.3 percent that year as Americans looked for new ways to stay active during the pandemic.
DeMeritt and Melampy soon realized that there was a huge pickleball following on the South Shore and the potential for even more growth. They identified a need for additional courts dedicated exclusively for the sport of pickleball and set out to create a solution. The result is a one-of-a-kind pickleball club that offers friendly competition and a fun, social atmosphere. Established at a time when many people are craving human connection, Pickles is helping to create community.
Pickles is located at 357 Columbia Road in Hanover. For more information, visit picklesne.com.
– Maria Allen