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Open Play Pickleball and Padel Coming to Hopkinton

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Foemmel Fine Homes

At 23, Yev Galper told his wife that he wanted to become a tennis coach when he retired. Now at 46 years old, Galper is fulfilling a variation of that dream by opening a new pickleball and padel club in Hopkinton.

Open Play Pickleball and Padel Club is currently on schedule to open in the Fall of 2024, and will be located on East Main Street near Legacy Farms in Hopkinton. The club will feature both indoor and outdoor courts and will welcome players of all ages and abilities. 

Yev Galper, founder of Open Play Pickleball and Padel Club
Yev Galper, founder of Open Play Pickleball and Padel Club

“I want to create the best possible playing experience for the community,” said Galper.

“I know the folks at the retirement center next door are very excited, and I’ve spoken to several people in town about it,” said Roy MacDowell, who is selling the land to Galper. “Pickleball is a great activity and those who know it love the sport. Open Play will be a very positive addition to Hopkinton, to say nothing of the great guy running it.”

Galper said he chose Hopkinton because of how welcoming the community is. “Everyone I’ve met has been very friendly and helpful,” he said. “It’s a very nice town.”

Galper plans to rely heavily on local contractors to build Open Play and recruit his staff from Hopkinton when the facility opens. He described “Open Play” as a term used within the pickleball community. Open Play is when “a lot of people come together to play a game, and then they rotate, changing partners and who they’re playing with.”

“Pickleball is a really fun social event where people enjoy both playing and interacting with others,” Galper added.

Originally from Belarus, Galper moved to the United States 27 years ago. He attended the University of Massachusetts for software engineering and received his Master’s degree from Harvard. Galper worked for many years in the information technology field.

But “I got tired of corporate life and I decided to focus on my passion, which is this,” he said.

Galper was an accomplished tennis player, but since learning pickleball four years ago, he said he has only played tennis twice. “I love the social component of Pickleball,” Galper said. “The games are short, so you switch partners, you play against different people with different partners, and you have a chance to sit down between games and socialize with people.

Galper said, “I started coaching people who never played any sport – never considered to be any kind of athlete in any kind of way – and my promise was that in six sessions they will be able to play a complete game and score and enjoy it. I didn’t have a single person who asked for a refund.”

He first began thinking about building Open Play in early 2023. “That’s when I noticed that there is a massive demand and serious undersupply of courts,” specifically a “serious undersupply of closed, indoor courts,” Galper said.

Towns across Massachusetts and the United States are investing in pickleball, but most courts are outdoor and can’t be used year-round. There are 373 public pickleball locations in Massachusetts, with each location consisting of a various number of individual courts. Hopkinton recently added two outdoor public pickleball courts at the Fruit Street athletic complex.

But even with the increasing number of courts, it is very difficult to find an available time, whether the location is public, private, outdoor, or indoor.

Across the country, LifeTime Fitness has converted some of their basketball courts into professional-grade pickleball courts and they’ve seen a drastic increase in membership, with many members joining just for access to pickleball courts.

But even as a member, it’s very difficult to reserve a court and find time to play, concluded Galper.

“Some people wake up at midnight to book a week in advance because that’s the window. If they miss by a few minutes, they lose the opportunity and they are on the waitlist,” he said.

Galper is planning to build eight indoor pickleball courts and two indoor padel courts, with plans to build several outdoor courts surrounding the building.

Open Play will be built with player comfort and safety in mind. “I will spend twice as much money on courts as everyone else, because I want to create cushion courts, which is the latest technology, and it’s designed specifically to protect knees, lower back, and the joints. It makes the game much easier to play, especially for the elderly population,” he added.

Open Play will operate with a hybrid model for players. Customers can rent courts on-demand, and others will become members to receive access to the courts at a reduced cost. Open Play will also offer private lessons and hosted private events.

“I’m planning to implement a structure where it works for anybody – for guests who play once in a while, for people who play once or twice a week, and for people who play a lot,” said Galper.

There are also plans to include a pro shop at the facility for customers to test and purchase different paddles and other equipment. Galper is also building a small workout space for players to lift weights, do cardio, and stretch. “One of the challenges I see right now is that people come and they start playing cold and then they get hurt,” he said.

Introducing Padel to Hopkinton

Galper is particularly excited to bring padel to Hopkinton and the surrounding towns.

Pickleball and padel, despite being very different sports, both utilize paddles, are played on a court, and are two of the fastest-growing sports in the world.

While pickleball and padel both originated in the 1960’s, pickleball was created in Washington and padel in Acapulco, Mexico.

The 2023 Sports & Fitness Industry Association’s Topline Participation Report announced pickleball is America’s fastest-growing sport for the third year in a row. While padel is not yet as popular in the United States, there are almost 40,000 courts worldwide, most of which are in Europe. Padel is particularly popular in Spain, Italy, and Sweden.

Galper first learned of padel from his brother, a former professional ping-pong player who currently lives in Denmark. “There were a lot of laughs, a lot of running, and great physical activity.”

Galper said, “I loved padel right away. It’s simple in that I could play without any prior knowledge, but complex in the use of walls and movement and the physics of it all.”

“I started looking into the sport and realizing how massive it’s become in the last few years around the world,” Galper said.

Galper suggests that padel is not as popular in the United States yet because of pickleball, but he expects that to change.

“Pickleball is much easier to start with and it’s easier for towns to embrace because all you need are new lines on a tennis court and you play. With padel, it’s much more involved,” he added.

There are no manufacturers of padel courts in the United States, forcing Galper to import the surfaces from Spain. Padel courts are constructed with artificial turf, glass and wire walls.

Galper said he has spoken with members of international communities who now live in the Greater Boston area. “There are already a lot of people who know the sport, they just don’t have access to the courts,” he said.

He said he hopes people who come to Open Play to play pickleball will see the padel courts and branch out to try the sport. “It’s not going to replace pickleball. For me, I will not stop playing pickleball. I will play both sports because they are very different,” said Galper.

He said the structure of the Open Play facility will give him flexibility to eventually change the number of padel and pickleball courts available based on interest from the community.

“I’m so excited to get to know people in Hopkinton, and to see pickleball and padel continue to grow and thrive,” said Galper.

For more information about Open Play, email Yev Galper at yev@openplayppc.com and visit their Facebook page.

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14 COMMENTS

  1. Great idea! Now we just have to fix the traffic congestion in the middle of town so people can get there. I also wonder how long before an abutter objects to this project because of the “noise.”

    • My guess is it will take less than 1 day for people in the retirement community to object to the noise. It is going to be loud for sure.

    • Alan and Barbara, appreciate your concern. Noise is a known problem for outdoor pickleball courts and is relevant for the 3 courts on the north side along the shared driveway. This is why we are designing these courts with sound barrier, which you can see as a think black line on the site plan. There are a few solutions on the market that provide sound remediation specifically design to substantially reduce noise for pickleball. Here is an example of one such solution – https://acousticalsolutions.com/pickleball-noise-solutions/, but there are others and we are researching to find the best solution.

      • I hired the best sound engineer who focuses exclusively on pickleball noise mitigation to come up with a solution that will work for all neighbors – on east, west, south, and north of the club.

  2. This is amazing. I am an avid player but can never find courts. Would love to just walk from my house. Also Yev is a great coach and can’t wait for this to open

  3. This is absolutely a great news! Hopkinton really require some sports and gym facilities. Concentrating all the new facilities on one side of fruit street reduces accessibility due to distance and heavy traffic.
    This is a great initiative by Yev, helping community to stay fit and healthy!

  4. This is beyond exciting! So glad Yev picked Hopkinton, a well located town that is close to all the major highways! This is not just going to benefit hundreds, even thousands of pickleball fans around the metro west area, also a big win for the town to bring in all sorts of business to build up the main street corridor. In return, the business will relieve the high property tax rate and support the growing needs for the school system. Win-Win situation! I can definitely imagine there will be a homegrown pickleball world champion in the future!

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