Childhood friends, sports enthusiasts, and longtime Hunterdon residents Bob Drinane and Eric Luque will open Flemington Pickleball Club, Hunterdon County’s first indoor pickleball-only facility, in mid-September.
The new club will be located at 19 Royal Road in Flemington, N.J., and will feature five climate-controlled indoor courts and a spacious lounge for players and spectators.
“Eric and I began playing pickleball last year, and we quickly became addicted to the game. It is so much fun to play, easy to learn, and very social. We soon realized there is a need for additional court space in Hunterdon County, and the idea for Flemington Pickleball Club was born,” said Drinane.
Pickleball – a cross between ping pong, tennis and badminton – is among the fastest growing sports in the nation, according to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association. It is played on a court that is about one-third the size of a tennis court, and uses a paddle and a pickleball, a colorful perforated hard plastic ball.
“With USA Pickleball growing its membership at 1,000% this year, and more than 3.3 million players nationwide, the organization is thrilled to see the announcement of the opening of Flemington Pickleball Club,” said George Bauernfeind, managing director of communications and marketing for USA Pickleball.
“Our sport thrives on local communities providing court space and the active lifestyle that individuals seek to aid in the sport’s growth, bringing more players to the courts.”
The business partners did extensive research about player preferences and best-in-class facilities.
“There is a strong desire for competitive, recreational and social play in Hunterdon County. We are creating a club that meets the needs of experienced players, including the opportunity for tournament play, as well as a relaxed, welcoming environment offering clinics and lessons for all ages and levels of play,” explained Luque.
The facility is over 11,000 square feet and will feature five pickleball courts, a well-appointed lounge and completely touchless bathrooms.
“We gutted the place, and have been excited to see the club take shape over the past few months. From the ground up, everything has been designed for the enjoyment, comfort and safety of our members,” added Luque.
“Flemington Pickleball Club is transforming a vacant space into a beautiful club that will meet the needs of Hunterdon’s active, health-oriented population, and provide additional recreational opportunities in the county. Good things always happen when local residents invest in our community,” said Marc Saluk, director, Hunterdon County Office of Economic Development.
“Long term,” he said, “Flemington Pickleball Club will provide benefits to the area as more people come to play pickleball and participate in tournaments.”
Flemington Pickleball Club will open with several modifications due to COVID-19. “Throughout the planning and building process, we have added enhanced safety features in the club to provide our members with the opportunity to play pickleball while staying safe. We will have touchless operating systems, sanitation stations, limited court capacity, and plenty of room for social distancing,” said Drinane.
The club co-owners have known each other for a very long time. “We grew up together, played sports together in high school, both attend University of Delaware, and took part in each other’s weddings,” said Drinane. “Flemington is our home, and we can’t wait to welcome the community to the Flemington Pickleball Club,” he said.
Memberships to the club are available for individuals and families, and a limited number of Founders Club memberships offer special benefits to the first 100 members. Information is available on the Flemington Pickleball website or by calling 908-445-5995.