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“All Pickleball, All The Time” at Camp Pickleball


Pickleball is currently the fastest growing sport in America, with an estimated 36.5 million players in the United States. With the sport of Pickleball growing at a rate of over 12% year-over-year for the last five years, the demand for available court space, especially during the winter months in the Northeast, is quickly outpacing the availability of facilities to play.

Former tennis and racquetball players Trish and Matthew Jenings, and Nathan Rule, picked up on the game of Pickleball quickly when they began to play less than two years ago, and they sought out opportunities to play with competitors who were equally skilled. When winter approached, they found court space in the region was very limited, and structures were loose at many community locations.

Matt and Trish had always been interested in becoming entrepreneurs at some point in their lives, but they hadn’t landed on what business they’d want to own. Trish, Matthew, and Nathan are all licensed pickleball instructors that currently run camps throughout the Southington, CT area. As they found themselves running out of options for places to play, they thought, “Why not open our own?,” shared Trish. “And that’s how Camp Pickleball was born.”

“Our original plan was to find a place to lease because it would require less capital up front. After looking at rentals for six months and not finding exactly what we had in mind, we realized if we were going to do it, we had to do it right, and that would require building a facility ourselves,” explained Trish.

Funding Plan

“We already had a relationship with Chelsea Groton because of previous residential loans we’d obtained through the Bank,” shared Trish. “Chelsea Groton had always been great to work with so when we decided we were going to need a loan, I contacted our residential lender who put us in touch with Michael Hawes from the commercial lending team.”

The Camp Pickleball team worked with Michael to apply for pre-approval to purchase land and build their own facility from the ground up in Plainville, CT.

“Michael Hawes was instrumental in explaining our options and what would be best for our situation,” explained Trish.

“After we talked through a few options, they opted for an SBA 504 loan to purchase the property and build the facility because it allowed for the flexible terms they needed,” shared Hawes, VP, Commercial Loan Officer at Chelsea Groton Bank. “We worked with Lauren Franco of BDC Capital to partner on this project. Together, we were able to secure them a C&I Construction to Permanent Loan, which is an interest-only term loan as they build, and then it will term out to principle and interest payments once the business is fully up and running. This allows our customer the ability to focus on building a successful tier 1 indoor pickleball facility before full payments are due.”

A few months into their search, the Camp Pickleball team found a plot of land that met their requirements and would allow for several USA Pickleball courts that were regulation size and heights. 

The Future of Camp Pickleball

Camp Pickleball is slated to open in Summer 2024. When complete, the 23,400 sq. ft. indoor pickleball facility will have 10 air conditioned and heated courts, a players’ lounge, event space for parties, corporate events, and tournaments, a pro shop, food and beverage options, bathrooms with showers and changing rooms, and more. Phase II of the project will include the build of a few outdoor courts.

“One of the features we’re most excited about is that members will have 24/7 access. Our security system will be all Wi-Fi enabled and we’re going to be using a system called CourtReserve, which requires members to register prior to playing. Players will be sent a code a few minutes prior to playtime in order to scan in and out of the facility, allowing for 24-hour access,” explained Trish.

In addition to a tiered membership program, non-members will be able to register for single pay-to-play options. 

“Camp Pickleball’s objective is to be the first indoor Pickleball facility in the Greater Hartford Area that offers ideal playing conditions regardless of external factors. The goal is to provide an environment which fosters a sense of competition, community, and overall wellbeing for all ages,” said Trish.

“Pickleball is such a great sport because anyone can pick it up and play with people at their own level. It’s easy to learn but hard to master, so people want to keep playing to get better. It offers a great balance of competition and fun, and it’s great exercise since people tend to stay on the court and play for a while.”

“For people interested in really being competitive and growing their skill, accessing a facility like ours will allow them to come play with people at their own level. We’re very focused on programming, and ensuring people know how the game and flow of play works. Having the flexibility of 10 courts will really allow people to play with those at their own level which will create an optimal experience for all,” concluded Trish.

By the Numbers…

  • 23,400 sq. ft. facility
  • 30 ft. x 60 ft. court size
  • 18 ft. minimum ceiling height for indoor play
  • 36.5M Pickleball players in the US