Pickleball Harbor serves up indoor sports space for Murrysville area (2024)

Kathy Thomas of Murrysville is looking forward to not having to beat the heat or brave the cold to play pickleball.

“I play pickleball just about every day, at least five days a week,” she said.

As a visitor and new member at the new Pickleball Harbor facility in Murrysville during Saturday’s grand opening, Thomas was impressed with the space.

Just off Route 22 in Murrysville at 5201 Mellon Road, the athletic center boasts six courts, air conditioning, automatic line-calling equipment, indoor bathrooms, a lounge seating area and a shop where pickleball equipment is on sale.

The facility celebrated its opening with workshops and challenges for players of varying skill levels, meant to welcome prospective players from Murrysville and beyond.


Indoor pickleball facility proposed for Murrysville

Pickleball is a sport played on a badminton-sized court with a perforated plastic ball and composite or wooden paddles, about twice the size of ping-pong paddles. It can be played indoors or outdoors and is a fast-growing sport across the country.

The sport grew to 13.6 million players across the country in 2023, according to the 2024 Sports & Fitness Industry Association Topline Participation Report. It jumped 51.8% from 2022 to 2023 and saw an overall 223.5% growth over the four years since 2020.

According to a report from USA Pickleball, the national governing body for the sport, Pennsylvania has 1,269 pickleball courts, 565 of them indoor and 704 outdoor.

Part of the goal of creating Pickleball Harbor, owner Jillian Bateman-Mcintosh said, was to create an indoor, climate-controlled space where the environment is the same every time people come to play. When she surveyed local Facebook groups to hear what pickleball players wanted from a facility, that came up as a top priority.

“You’re really just thinking about what you’re doing and how you’re doing it, rather than the wind factor or the sun or the humidity or the rain,” she said. “Having an indoor facility really is going to allow them to play year-round.”

Pickleball focus

The facility includes high-tech equipment that can read whether hits are inside or outside, and it allows players to track their progress through an app and practice with an automatic serving machine. Some of the technology still is being installed, Bateman-Mcintosh said.

“This really is the only one of its kind that I’ve seen in the Northeast,” Bateman-McIntosh said of the facility’s tech offerings, coordinated through German tech company Wingfield.

It’s also the only indoor facility in Western Pennsylvania, she said, that is specifically focused on pickleball and no other sports.

If the busy crowd inside the facility Saturday was any indication, the amenities already are popular. About 100 people signed on as members before the grand opening, she said. The facility is capped at 250 members, but visitors will have the option to purchase passes.

There will also be free “pickleball 101” courses for new players over the first four months of the facility’s operation, Bateman-McIntosh said.

“It’s a sport where I can play with my three little girls, and I can play with my mom and dad, who are in their 60s,” she said. “Having that accessibility really opens up the doors for any type of profile.”

Carroll de Vera Roberts, one of the facility’s coaches, is looking forward to teaching more players about the sport. The social aspect of the pickleball community is one thing that draws people in, she said.

“We certainly welcome those individuals who have not actually picked up a paddle before,” she said. “I think that people can be successful as soon as they get on the court.”

Player perspective

Dallas Blayney, a pickleball player from Canonsburg, was encouraged by the idea of a new indoor facility.

“Pickleball is a growing game — there’s a lack of indoor facilities in the area for sure,” he said. “It’s nice to see somebody dedicate a space like this to pickleball.”

Blayney can see himself potentially venturing out to play at Pickleball Harbor in the wintertime. He plays three to five times a week in the evening.

“I know pickleball out here in the Murrysville and Greensburg area is really big, too, so it’s nice to see them get an indoor facility,” he said.

Rachel Grecco visited from Cranberry in Butler County, which has a robust pickleball community.

“We don’t have many indoor facilities in (Pennsylvania), and I really like playing indoors, especially when it’s windy or rainy. Having that option, it also allows you to choose different events you can put on,” she said. “That’s why I wanted to check it out, because we don’t have enough here.”

She splits her time between Cranberry and Salt Lake City, Utah, where, she says, indoor facilities like this one are common. It’s exciting to see more indoor facilities popping up here, she said.

“That makes a big difference for me, because I play year-round,” she said. “Being able to play indoors in the winter here is going to make a difference.”

Katerina Luttner of Fox Chapel is newer to pickleball, but is more familiar with golf. She’s interested in the Pickleball Harbor facility as a place to learn more about the sport.

“I’m probably going to take one of the beginner classes,” she said “This is a little bit out of my field, but it’s a great sport, a lot of health benefits and something to look forward to do with your friends.”

Dan Proud of Mt. Pleasant regularly plays at the Mt. Pleasant YMCA and is interested in the indoor courts and pickleball-specific offerings of Pickleball Harbor. He became a member before the facility opened, having attended an open-house walk-around session.

“Pickleball is just a fun sport, and I think I can do it for many years to come,” Proud said. “Ready to retire, and I think it will be a good athletic endeavor for retirement.”

Julia Maruca is a TribLive reporter covering health and the Greensburg and Hempfield areas. She joined the Trib in 2022 after working at the Butler Eagle covering southwestern Butler County. She can be reached at jmaruca@triblive.com.

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Pickleball Harbor serves up indoor sports space for Murrysville area (2024)
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