Setting the pace: Pickleball players dominate WHS courts


Credit: Kally Proctor

Join WSPN’s Selena Liu, Kally Proctor and Jenny Shine as they explore pickleball and the rise of the sport’s popularity in Wayland. “I think I just drove by [the high school] and saw people playing, so I started to join,” Wayland resident Bruce Greenberg said. “My friends were playing [pickleball] and I wanted to play.”

Pickleball players of all ages and skill levels can be seen playing alone, in pairs or in groups on Wayland High School’s tennis courts, well before school begins and well into the evening. Pickleball has recently risen in popularity, and the installment of pickleball nets on WHS’s tennis courts has made it more accessible to prospective players in Wayland.

The game is seen by some as a fun alternative to tennis due to the fact that it takes up less space and is more beginner-friendly. Up to four pickleball courts can fit on one tennis court, and it is played with small wooden paddles and large plastic balls.

“Pickleball requires the same racket skills as tennis, but pickleball requires more precision and patience,” senior and WHS varsity tennis player Brendan O’Rourke said.

While there are certain pickleball leagues that arrange for paid practices, matches and tournaments, some players choose to bring their own equipment to the courts and play with friends and family. An added bonus for some residents is that the courts are free of charge for Wayland residents and those from neighboring towns.

“I started playing in June of 2022, so I’m fairly new,” Wayland resident Carla Stafford said. “I try to play seven times a week, sometimes twice a day.”

The visibility of WHS’ tennis courts has allowed people to see the pickleball players as they drive past, causing some of them to become interested in trying the sport for themselves.

“I just drove by WHS and saw people playing, so I decided to try it out,” Wayland resident Bruce Greenberg said. “My friends were playing pickleball and I wanted to play with them.”

Some other players were introduced to the sport by family, friends or neighbors, and soon also became devoted players of the sport.

“A neighbor came over and asked me to hit around with her because she was going to be joining a [pickleball] league,” Stafford said. “I said sure reluctantly, but I’ve been hooked ever since that day.”

One reason some people continue to play pickleball is because they believe it is a fun way to get exercise and stay active.

“[Playing pickleball helps] get my steps in quickly,” Stafford said. “I’m able to get my steps in and then go home and eat what I want.”

Many players agree that they choose to play pickleball on the WHS tennis courts because they are new, well-maintained and easily accessible. Additionally, the trees around the courts provide cover from the sun.

“It’s just fun to be outside and not have to run as much as tennis,” Greenberg said.

Furthermore, the Wayland Recreation Department hosts drop-in sessions for pickleball during the spring. Community members are able attend these sessions on Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays for less than $10. However, whether it’s sessions at the Wayland Recreation Department or just a casual match with friends at the high school’s tennis courts, there’s no doubt that for some, pickleball has become a favorite hobby.

“A couple of friends asked me to come out and play and I decided to give it a try,” Natick resident Joanna Jones said. “I like playing outside, getting fresh air, playing with friends and getting some exercise. It’s just fun to do something that’s a little competitive, but [that’s] not crazy.”

Pickleball by Jennifer Shine