Pickleball in Delaware: What to Know and Where to Play

Originally championed by senior players, pickleball is spreading to all ages. Here's what to know about the game, and where to play in Delaware.

Pickleball is “a hybrid of Ping-Pong and badminton,” explains Ron Sanna, owner of Delcastle Tennis Center, whose courts can quickly be converted for the sport when tennis players aren’t looking.

For New Castle County executive Matt Meyer, the unofficial impresario of pickleball who integrated courts into the county parks system, it provides a workout like tennis that’s gentler on an injured knee.

Golfer Harold Holeman turned to pickleball to stay warm in the winter. Now the USA Pickleball ambassador in Delaware, he says he’s “only played two rounds of golf since.”

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Holeman, who is 80 but agile, agrees that pickleball is to tennis what snowboarding was to skiing a few decades ago. “Skiers hated snowboarders before taking it up themselves, and tennis players are worried that we’re taking over their courts,” he says.

Pickleball, which is sweeping the nation and taking Delaware with it, started locally as a sport mainly for senior athletes who might have lost a step but still love to compete. Today, its emphasis on quick reflexes, like Ping-Pong, is making it equally attractive to young players. There is even a national pro pickleball league with matches archived on YouTube.

The sport is played with paddles and a ball—similar to Wiffle ball—with four players. It’s like doubles in tennis, but games last only minutes. The rules are similar to tennis, too, but are better explained if you are standing on a court with a paddle in your hand.

During the pandemic, New Castle County executive and pickleball advocate Matt Meyer helped integrate 32 courts into the county parks system—and 24 more are coming by summer 2024. Photo by Joe Del Tufo.

The game’s origin story is that it was invented in 1965 in Washington state by three dads with bored kids. One of their wives called it pickleball because the combination of different sports reminded her of the “pickle boat” in crew, where oarsmen were chosen from the leftovers of other boats.

Another player, Rich Behling, started playing a decade ago while living in New Jersey. “When we moved here, I started playing at Mid-County Senior Center [in Wilmington], which I think was one of the first places locally,” he says.

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Two organizations arrange informal matches locally and do coaching, one headed by Holeman and known simply as his “group,” and a larger one, Diamond State Pickleball, headed by Skip Bradley. “It’s mainly a recreational game,” Holeman says, “but there are players who are more competitive, and there are some who play in tournaments.”

County executive Meyer, who plays occasionally, became a strong advocate of the sport after the pandemic when there was public demand for more pickleball courts. As of press time, there are 38 courts in parks from Glasgow to Deacons walk—and four more on the way.

Pickleball, everyone?

Where to Play Pickleball in Delaware

Some courts may require reservations or have a membership fee. Check online for details and requirements. 

pickleball
Adobe Stock | Ramil Gibadullin

New Castle County

Bear-Glasgow Family YMCA
3 indoor courts
351 George Williams Way, Newark

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George Wilson Community Center
1 outdoor court
303 New London Road, Newark

Glasgow Park
4 outdoor courts
Route 896 & Route 40, Newark

Deacons Walk
8 outdoor courts
7 Ware Road, Newark

Siegel JCC
10 outdoor courts, 2 indoor courts | $10 fee for guests
101 Garden of Eden Road, Wilmington

Bechtel Park
8 outdoor courts
1201 Naamans Road, Wilmington

Delaware Swim & Fitness Center
2 indoor courts
4905 Mermaid Boulevard, Wilmington

Fraim Center for Active Adults
3 indoor courts
669 South Union Street, Wilmington

Greenbank Park
4 outdoor courts
Greenbank Road & Newport Gap Pike, Wilmington

Hockessin Indoor Tennis
8 indoor courts
4101 Newport Gap Pike, Hockessin

Kent County & Sussex County

DSU Wellness & Recreation Center
3 indoor courts
1200 Dupont Highway, Dover

Kent County Recreation Center
9 indoor courts
1683 New Burton Road, Dover

Seaford High School
2 outdoor courts
399 North Market Street, Seaford

Dave Marshall Tennis & Fitness Center
12 indoor courts
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Lewes

Lewes Canalfront Park
4 outdoor courts
211 Front Street, Lewes

The Factory Sports Complex
3 indoor courts
17543 Nassau Commons Boulevard, Lewes

Bayside Resort Golf Club
2 outdoor courts
31381 Forsythia Drive, Selbyville

Sports at the Beach
8 outdoor courts, 4 indoor courts
22518 Lewes Georgetown Highway

Related: More Than Fitness Promotes Empathy & Exercise in Delaware

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