Tennis-like game draws all ages to Austintown Park
By AMANDA TONOLI
An anticipated pickleball court, completed about a week ago at Austintown Township Park, draws in a crowd, with people lining up during early to midmorning hours and in the evening when the heat has let up for the day.
This sport, popular to the older community, comes from Florida, said Jean Patti of Canfield.
Pickleball is a racket sport that combines elements of badminton, tennis and table tennis. It is played with a perforated plastic ball similar to the popular Wiffle ball.
“Where a tennis ball bounces a lot more, this plastic ball doesn’t,” Jean said.
Jean; her husband, Jim, a retired 35-year teacher at Austintown Fitch High School; and two granddaughters, Ava and Mia Patti, played match after match on an afternoon this week.
Jean Patti said her favorite part of the sport is being able to play with all different age groups.
“You can play with your grandkids, older kids and young kids,” Jean said. “It’s nice because you can almost always hit [the ball] over.”
Ava, 11, of Rocky River in the Cleveland area, said a perk of playing pickleball is the ball and rackets are lighter and therefore easier to handle.
In addition, Jim Patti said the serve also is a lot easier to master.
“For older people, you don’t have to run as much, but it’s still very good exercise,” Jean said.
She joined a group formed after the court construction was completed, playing every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.
The court, a $5,000 expense, was paid for by the Westchester Fund, profit gained from the Westchester Building. The Westchester Building houses several operations that pay rent to maintain the facility. The excess money goes into the Westchester Fund, which is used for recreational purposes for the Austintown community.
The court was made from a tennis court completed in April, a $160,000 project paid for by Austintown School District under the condition that it is considered township park property.
“We have a series of favorite parks, and this is one of our favorites,” Jim Patti said.