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Cranberry seniors looking for a spot for game of Pickleball

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By Matt Defusco
Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Dan Fantaski played a lot of tennis when he was younger, but things aren't quite the same for him now that he is 61.

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

These days, he stays in shape with a group of friends who play Pickleball, a game with similar rules to tennis or ping-pong but one that requires less movement because the court is half the size of a tennis court.

Pickleball, Fantaski explained, is quickly gaining momentum through clubs forming in the United States.

“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 to seniors. A group in Cranberry plays at the YMCA three days a week in early afternoons. About 30 people play, Fantaski said, although the roster in January grew to 100 people at one point. When the school year ends, however, so will the Pickleball party. Students will need the Y space for other sports and activities during summer months.

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

In September, Fantaski pitched the idea to a few other administrators, with a demonstration that gave them the opportunity to play the game.

Smith said it's a cross between tennis and badminton. “It's really a fun game,” he said. “I think it will make a great addition.”

This month, Fantaski talked with township supervisors and impressed board president Bruce Mazzoni.

Mazzoni said the way Fantaski has pursued his passion is what he likes to see from residents.

“We always enjoy hearing feedback from residents,” said Mazzoni, who had never heard of the game. “It sounded very interesting. … I'd be curious to try and play a game myself.”

As the game becomes more popular, Fantaski said he believes he's “gaining ground” and that the group of senior taxpayers will see his dream come to fruition, but township officials haven't finalized plans to convert a tennis court.

Smith appreciates Fantaski's fervency. “You won't find a more enthusiastic person or dedicated Pickleballer,” he said.

Matt DeFusco is a reporter for Trib Total Media.

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