HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – The Bartley Center for Athletics & Recreation at Holyoke Community College (HCC) has seven new indoor courts, open five days a week for pickleball.

For a $5 per visit fee, anyone can come to HCC to play the “fastest growing sport in America.” For HCC students, there is no fee to use the courts.

The pickleball courts are available Mondays through Fridays 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Courts can not be reserved in advance, but are on a first come first serve basis.

Pickleball is a hybrid of tennis, table tennis, and badminton, and the sport became possible at HCC after the floor in the Bartley Center gym was redone. Existing indoor tennis nets were removed, and new pickleball nets and court lines were installed.

“We’re offering the courts and all the equipment – nets, balls, and paddles,” said HCC president and avid pickleball player Christina Royal. “We have everything here you need to play, and it’s all new.”

“Tennis is a dying sport at the junior college level,” said Bartley Center director Tom Stewart, who serves on the Board of Regents for the National Junior College Athletic Association. “There are no junior colleges in New England that have tennis anymore. Tennis used to be so popular you couldn’t get on a court. Now people are having a harder time getting courts for pickleball, particularly indoors.”

Stewart and Royal both hope the college hosts pickleball leagues and tournaments. “In addition to my own passion for the sport, there’s a real opportunity here from an economic development perspective for our region to draw more visitors to the area for pickleball,” Royal said. “That creates all sorts of business opportunities.”