By Janelle Erlichman Diamond

Illustrations by Sam Peet

Photography by Wesley Lapointe

Rites of Spring

Six Great Spots to Get Your Pickleball On

Described as a mix between tennis, badminton, and Ping Pong, pickleball first exploded during the pandemic.

By Janelle Erlichman Diamond

Photography by Wesley Lapointe

Illustrations by Sam Peet

Dink Responsibly

Described as a mix between tennis, badminton, and ping pong, pickleball first exploded during the COVID pandemic.

t this point it’s hard to ignore pickleball, which has been deemed the fastest-growing sport in America for the third consecutive year by the Sports & Fitness Industry Association. But for those still perplexed by the funny-sounding activity, it’s basically all your favorite racket sports combined. “It’s like playing tennis, but you’re standing on a Ping Pong table,” laughs pickleball pro and instructor Johnny Shapiro, who teaches at the appropriately named indoor Dill Dinker courts in Finksburg.

Part of pickleball’s appeal is that it’s relatively low impact, easy to learn, and social—it’s usually played in pairs and banter is allowed. And yes, these are the reasons why it’s often called a sport for seniors. Though the top pickleball player in the world, 24-year-old Montgomery County native Ben Johns, a University of Maryland graduate, would like a word.

Well before Johns was born, in the summer of 1965, pickleball was founded by three friends—Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum—on Washington state’s Bainbridge Island. JoanPritchard came up with the name “pickleball”—a reference to the back-up rowers in the “pickle boat” during crew races. (Many years later, as the sport grew, rumor was that Joan Pritchard named the game after the family dog, Pickles. But the family maintains that the dog came along a few years later and was, in fact, named after the game.)


And while there are loads of beautiful courts—both indoors and out—the sport really took off during COVID because it was easy and accessible (read: safe) to play with a few family members on a court marked off by Scotch tape or chalk. All you needed was a net, perforated hollow plastic balls, and some cheap paddles. “You could do it at your house and get a makeshift net, or it’s so mobile, you could take it anywhere—public parks or tennis courts,” says Shapiro.

Sure, the rules can be a bit perplexing when you first play. But once you nail that and the lingo—there’s a kitchen, a dink shot, tweener, and others—it’s enjoyable and great exercise, too.

“It’s the most fun workout while you’re distracted the whole-time keeping score and hitting a ball,” says Shapiro. “I’m not running on a track in circles or on a treadmill trying to force a sweat. You get so into it that time flies.”



Pickleball courts range from fancy state-of-the-art indoor facilities to free outdoor courts, some that may even require you to BYON (bring your own net). That’s the beauty of it. Here are six great spots to get your pickleball on.

Baltimore Pickleball Club

2125 Greenspring Dr., Timonium, 410-832-3129

Four meticulously designed indoor courts at the Baltimore Pickleball Club feature high-quality materials, excellent lighting, and vibrant court surfaces that offer optimal playing conditions. Court fees are calculated based on membership type. For guests, courts are $50/hour for the entire court, or $12.50 per guest per hour.

Dill Dinkers Pickleball

2950 Dede Rd., Finksburg, 240-261-5664

This is where you can find pickleball pro and instructor Johnny Shapiro. The Finksburg location (there is also one in Columbia) features 12 outdoor-style courts with fences—but inside. There’s also a ball machine (for members it’s free) and leagues for all levels of play. Like so many of these indoor locations, there is an online court reservation system. Your level of membership determines when you can reserve court time. Fees range from $6.25/person/hour for members to $12.50/person/hour for visitors. And open play ranges from $6.25 to $12.50/person/session.

Dumbarton Middle School

300 Dumbarton Rd., Towson. 717-642-8282

Dumbarton Middle School—in the middle of Rodgers Forge—has five outdoor concrete courts. The lines are permanent, but you’ll need to bring your own net. The courts are free, too.

Pickleball House

1330 Innovation St., Middle River, 410-650-9972

The Pickleball House, which says on its website—“we believe that pickleball is not just a game; it’s a lifestyle, a source of joy, and an opportunity to create lasting friendships—has eight indoor pickleball courts, open play, leagues, tournaments a pro shop, and locker rooms. There’s a guest membership for those who want to try out the club before joining. Otherwise, there are annual individual, couples, family, and youth membership programs available.

The PutAway

254 Najoles Rd., Millersville, 410-205-5576

This 23,900-squarefoot facility features the amenities to properly host all skills levels—from beginners to advanced—with professional-grade pickleball courts. That includes seven fully fenced tournament-grade courts in an indoor climate-controlled facility, three outdoor courts with professional lighting, certified instructors for group and private lessons, plus several lounge areas for waiting and socializing. Memberships range from $50 (basic individual membership) to $145 (family membership) a month, plus an option for unlimited open play at $89 a month.

Rock Glenn Park

200 Rock Glenn Blvd., Havre de Grace, 732-513-5352.

There is one outdoor asphalt court at this family-friendly public park. This is a dedicated court with a permanent net and lines. The court is free.

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