South Fayette’s Janet DeCostro trades tennis racket for pickleball paddle
South Fayette resident and former Pitt women’s tennis player Janet DeCostro is shining in a new sport.
DeCostro, 61, earned a gold medal with her mixed doubles partner in the 60-64 age group in the Super Senior International Pickleball Association East Championships in September in Griffin, Ga. She won silver in women’s doubles.
Last year, DeCostro picked up silver in mixed doubles 60-plus in the Margaritaville national championships in Indian Wells, Calif.
DeCostro took up pickleball — a paddle sport played indoors or outdoors with a plastic ball with holes on a badminton-sized court — at the suggestion of a friend. She gave up tennis a year ago.
“I really liked (pickleball),” said DeCostro, who posted a 45-12 career singles tennis record for Pitt and was the Panthers’ most valuable player in 1977-78. “(It is) far more social than tennis.”
DeCostro said it is also fast-moving.
DeCostro, who retired from the insurance industry, has played in 23 tournaments since July 2016 with various partners.
“(In) pickleball, you meet a lot of players,” she said.
Over the winter, she teaches the sport in Florida.
Scott Barker, 58, of Naples, Fla., has played with DeCostro and is impressed by her ability.
“She’s amazing — great athlete, very talented,” Barker said. “She’s very competitive, but a woman with high integrity. She’s got a tremendous skill set for racket sports.”
Barker said DeCostro, who grew up in Beaver County and was inducted into the Midland Sports Hall of Fame this year, gets satisfaction out of helping people, which makes her a terrific instructor.
“She is just a great friend,” he said. “She’s worldly.”
Karen Kadilak is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.