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Want to find the perfect paddle? Macon has a dedicated pickleball store with indoor court

Dec 01, 2023

Within a sport that's among the nation's fastest growing, especially in Macon, pickleball enthusiast Greg Stokes saw a need, and decided to fill it.

Stokes opened Pickleball Sports, a brick and mortar pickleball store at 4446 Forsyth Road in Macon on June 3.

"I started playing about a year and a half ago and getting to know people down at Tattnall center and the biggest complaint I heard was there's nowhere we can try on shoes or try out equipment," he said.

The closest other dedicated pickleball store to Macon that Stokes has found is on the north side of Atlanta.

Stokes decided to visit a pickleball store in Jacksonville, Florida. The store setup included spaces where people could try on shoes and clothes as well as try out pickleball paddles.

"I said that sounds like a good idea for our area because we have a very big pickleball following here," he said.

Paul Midkiff, president of the Macon Pickleball Association, recalled how when he first fell in love with the sport in 2017 after his first game that there were about 40 to 50 people sharing four pickleball courts at John Drew Smith Tennis Center.

Today, the Macon Pickleball Association has 300 paid members who play in leagues, while the association's newsletter goes out to a broader group of nearly 2,000 pickleball players in Middle Georgia.

Also, 26 pickleball courts are now available for play at the Tattnall Square Pickleball Center at 1155 College St.

Additionally, the Macon Mall renovation project includes the development of a 32-court indoor pickleball facility, while plans for the development of the former coaling tower property include eight outdoor pickleball courts that will be covered.

"I think we’re going to keep those facilities busy with our local folks, but I think we’re going to attract a lot of people from out of town," Midkiff said. "I think it's going to bring in a lot of tournaments."

Seizing the vision, Stokes opened Pickleball Sports, which he owns and operates with the help of his daughter, Brayden Stokes, and his mother, Melba Hubbard. He kept his day job in construction, which means pickleball enthusiasts generally can expect to find him in the store in the evenings and on Saturdays.

At his store, Stokes sells just about everything you’ll need to get started in the sport of pickleball, including a variety of paddles, tennis shoes designed for the sport, sports clothing, accessories such as sports bags, and of course, pickleballs.

"A pickleball is a specially designed ball for the game but it's very similar to a wiffle ball," he said.

The store also features an indoor demo pickleball court that's 14 feet long and 12 feet wide that includes a rebounding wall and moveable net.

"With the rebounding wall, you can try out the paddles, or it's big enough for two of you to get in there with the net in the center and kind of loosely try ‘em out," Stokes said.

Multiple factors contribute to the popularity of the sport, Midkiff said.

"It's a sport that even if you’re not an athlete or never have been an athlete, you can play in some capacity," Midkiff said. "The learning curve is quick.

"It's just a quick game to pick up and be able to get on the court with other people and sustain a rally."

In addition to attracting a myriad of skill levels, pickleball appeals to all ages from children to older adults, Midkiff said. Also, the cost to be outfitted for play is inexpensive, and the sport itself creates camaraderie among the players.

"The court is smaller, so you’re closer together on the court," Midkiff said. "There's a lot more interaction, even if you’re not playing.

"The flow of the game is different from most games .... you could go play a game for 10 minutes and then maybe sit a game out and then jump right in a game. It's not a situation where I’m going to get my four people and say, ‘Hey, let's go play pickleball.’ A lot of players are just showing up here tonight, walking up by themselves and just hoping to find some games."

Pickleball Sports is open 9 a.m to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday. The number is 478-219-9799. For more about Macon Pickleball and lessons, visit the group's website at