Late night pickleball at Val Halla Golf and Recreation Center in Cumberland. Contributed / Peter Bingham

Ten years ago, the word “pickleball” wouldn’t have had any meaning in Cumberland. Since then, a couple of seasonal residents, having picked up the game in Florida, asked if they could paint a pickleball court on an old basketball court.

“At the time, I thought it was a fad, like racquetball or some of these other niche sports,” said Cumberland Recreation Director Peter Bingham. “Boy, was I wrong.”

While the sport has steadily grown in popularity in Maine over the past five to six years, according to USA Pickleball’s annual growth report, it only recently became the craze that it now is in Cumberland, North Yarmouth and Falmouth.

The demand for court time is high. North Yarmouth offers pickleball sessions four days a week at Wescustogo Hall and Community Center, on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays.

The sport combines elements of tennis, badminton and ping pong and can be played indoors or outdoors. Teams can be two people or four and players hit a perforated ball over a net until one side reaches a score of 11.

“It’s like standing on top of a ping pong table,” Falmouth Recreation Coordinator Kate Harris said. “The court is much smaller than a tennis court, so you can move around as much or as little as you want to.”


Players enjoy pickleball at Mason-Motz Activity Center in Falmouth. Contributed / Lucky D’Ascanio

Sue McGinley started playing pickleball just over six years ago. The Falmouth resident had just turned 60 and wanted to try a new exercise regiment. Now, McGinley plays eight or nine times a week in Falmouth, Portland and South Portland.

“I love the social aspect, the laughs, and the exercise,” McGinley said. “I’ve made some amazing new friends.”

Four years ago, McGinley started a summer pickleball group with 12 members. Last year, McGinley had 70 people on her roster.

“Pickleball is going crazy,” McGinley said.

From the grassroots effort in Cumberland, the sport has grown into one of the area’s most popular activities. Four outdoor courts are available at Val Halla Golf Course in Cumberland as well as two indoor courts at the North Yarmouth Community Center. It has also been incorporated into the physical education curriculums at Greely Middle and High schools.

“Pickleball is here to stay, in my opinion,” Bingham said. “It’s a great activity – we literally have all ages playing.”


Lucky D’Ascanio, director of parks and community programs in Falmouth, first heard about pickleball through national parks and recreation conferences. Pickleball is popular nationally, D’Ascanio said, and the sport is discussed at length at conferences across the country.

“It started out slow in Falmouth with just one or two groups,” D’Ascanio said. “We’ve seen it grow exponentially since.”

Pickleball is a relatively easy sport to learn and play due to the smaller court size and lighter racquets.

“It’s a great social activity and exercise,” D’Ascanio said.

Falmouth offers three pickleball sessions a week on Tuesday and Friday nights, with a mid-day session offered for those ages 55 and older. Courts are available at Huston Park, as well as Mason Motz Activity Center and the Bucknam tennis courts.

“We’re all about the pickleball craze here in Falmouth,” D’Ascanio said.

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