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    Paddle up! Sussex County getting first dedicated pickleball center

    By Lori Comstock, Newton New Jersey Herald,

    27 days ago

    A pickleball paradise is coming to Sussex County, so pull out those paddles and get ready to pop some plastic.

    The Sussex County YMCA, part of the Metropolitan YMCA of the Oranges, announced plans this week to open the county's first dedicated pickleball center in September. The indoor arena, dubbed the YMCA Pickleball Center, will feature six courts at 11 Millpond Road in Lafayette, off Route 94 near the Hampton Township border.

    Corey Brown, executive director of the Sussex YMCA, said the facility will be catered to players of all levels and is meant to foster a sense of community.

    "(It) underscores our commitment to promoting healthy living and community engagement," Brown said in a statement. "As the popularity and demand for pickleball grows, we are excited to offer a dedicated space where people can come together, stay active and have fun."

    The center will be open for players aged 18 and older year-round, with heating and air conditioning, and will use PickleRoll flooring, which is a tournament-standard professional surface, the center said.

    The Sussex YMCA has two indoor pickleball courts at their main location in Hardyston, but requires players be active members and does not offer reservations. The new center will allow members and guests a chance to play, with members having priority during peak times.

    Current YMCA members will be required to add a $25 Pickleball Center add-on to their membership to play and non-members will pay $99 per month, with a $25 one-time joiner fee.

    Players will have the chance to take lessons, participate in clinics, league showdowns and shootouts. Players are required to sign up through the Pickleball Den App before playing, with registration open 48 hours prior to a scheduled session with options to book a court up to 15 days in advance.

    A grand opening date will be released in the coming months.

    The new addition comes as no surprise as pickleball has become the fastest-growing sport in America. Participation in the nontraditional activity has risen a remarkable 223.5% in three years, according to the Sports and Fitness Industry Association.

    Pickleball is a cross between table tennis, badminton and tennis, according to Sports Imports, with players using a wooden paddle and plastic ball with holes. The sport can be a great alternative for older players who used to play tennis, since it does not put excessive strains on the body and play is usually confined to a smaller court. One tennis court can be converted into roughly four, 20-foot-by-44-foot surface pickleball courts.

    The sport is also an excellent activity for multiple generations and can also be highly competitive and fast-paced, with a lot of strategy thrown in. Professional pickleball players compete in the Professional Pickleball Association's (PPA) Tour, which showcases the world's top pickleball athletes at 26 tour stops across the nation. The PPA is the global governing body of men's and women's professional pickleball.

    The sport has become increasing popular in New Jersey with over 12,700 members in the Facebook group NJ Pickleball Forum. In North Jersey, the group North Jersey Pickleball (NJ) has 4,200 members, with players of all skill levels seeking courts to play and fellow residents to join them.

    But even though New Jersey has the 11th highest population in the United States, there are only 284 locations across the state, according to PickleHeads, a website that directs players to pickleball courts near them. That ranks as 22nd among the list of states with pickleball courts. California and Florida each have over 1,000 locations.

    Email:; Twitter: @LoriComstockNJH or on Facebook.

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