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Pickleball courts open in Aspinwall

September 19, 2018

Giuseppe Francioni, Kathy Demetri and Jeff Harris painted lines on the multi-use court at the Aspinwall Community Park so residents can play pickleball as well as basketball.

The Aspinwall Recreation Area is ready for another sport.

Volunteers on Aug. 25 transformed the basketball court into a multi-use area by painting lines to accommodate pickleball -- the hot sport sensation that’s a mix of tennis and racquetball.

The task took about four hours to measure and mark the large 20-by-44-foot area using a stencil from the National Pickleball Association. With the sunny weather, the lime green lines dried quickly.

Eventually, there will be a second pickleball court at the large recreational area accessed from Field Avenue in Aspinwall and located just off the Highland Park Bridge and Route 28. The busy park also makes room for basketball, dek hockey, two baseball fields and playground equipment.

When First Street resident Giuseppe Francioni proposed the pickleball concept to council members, they embraced it.

He gathered volunteers to paint the lines, and the project got under way quickly.

“It seems obvious we should improve [recreational facilities] whenever we can,” said councilman Jeff Harris, who is in charge of recreation and property for Aspinwall.

The councilman was unfamiliar with pickleball, a paddle sport, until he saw a complex in Cranberry.

Francioni has played for more than a year. Kathy Demetri, an O’Hara resident, has played for three years. She has become an ambassador for the sport, trying to grow its reputation.

Demetri helped organize a petition to O’Hara’s recreation committee, which then recommended two pickleball courts in the space at Beulah Frey Park near Lauri Ann West Community Center.

Harris said volunteers benefit the municipality because when they fundraise or do work for recreational activities, resources can be directed to other priorities such as infrastructure, he said.

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