Pickleball group trying to convince Cranberry officials there's a new game in town

| Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013, 11:19 a.m.

Dan Fantaski of Cranberry Township often played tennis when he was younger.

But things aren't quite the same now that he is 61, he said.

“(I) just don't move like I used to,” Fantaski said.

Since he can't play tennis anymore, Fantaski likes to stay in shape with friends who play Pickleball, a game that has similar rules to tennis or ping-pong but requires less movement because the court is half the size of a tennis court.

Pickleball, Fantaski said, is picking up momentum in the U.S. with clubs forming all over.

And, he said, it really is a great way for him to stay healthy.

“It's just great exercise, my doctor loves me,” he said. “I've dropped 20 pounds, and I attribute it all from the exercise I get from Pickleball.”

The game is geared mostly for senior citizens. A local group has been playing at the Rose E. Schneider Family YMCA three days a week in the early afternoon, with about 30 residents showing up each day, Fantaski said.

The YMCA roster showed in January that more than 100 residents had signed up to play Pickleball.

After the school year is up, the Pickleball party will end as students will need the space during the day for sports and other activities.

Last June, Fantaski brought this issue up to the acting parks and recreation department director Greg Smith and suggested that one of the tennis courts at the Community Park be converted into two Pickleball courts.

In September, Fantaski met with Smith and a few other administrators, including the community projects administrator, Chelsea Puff, and facilities and programs coordinator for the parks and recreation department, Jason Mentel, to pitch the idea to them along with a demonstration that gave them the opportunity to play the game.

Smith said the game is a cross between tennis and badminton.

“It's really a fun game,” he said. “I think it will make a great addition.”

Fantaski was advised to talk with some of the municipal administration and at the last Board of Supervisors meeting on Feb. 7, he brought his idea to them.

Board president Bruce Mazzoni said that the way Fantaski has been pursuing his passion is exactly what he likes to see from residents.

“We always enjoy hearing feedback from residents,” said Mazzoni, who had never heard of the game before it was mentioned in the meeting.

“It sounded very interesting … I'd be curious to try and play a game myself.”

The game is picking up in popularity in Cranberry and Fantaski said he thinks he's “gaining ground” and that the group of senior taxpayers will see his dream come to fruition soon, but no plans have been finalized yet to have the tennis courts converted.

He has visited the municipal building several times to check on any progress being made and he continues to be persistent with his last words at the board of supervisors meeting being, “I'll see you next month.”

Smith appreciates Fantaski's passion for the game.

“You won't find a more enthusiastic person or dedicated ‘Pickleballer'”, he said.

Matt DeFusco is an intern with Trib Total Media.

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