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Double gold medal for pickleball paddler



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March 12, 2014 - Stu Hasting picked up his paddle and won not only one but two gold medals at the 2014 Winter Michigan Senior Olympics in pickleball.

"It was something I worked pretty hard at," Hastings said.

He won a gold medal in singles 60-64 age group by going undefeated in his four matches to win the gold. He also partnered with Larry VanderRoest to take gold in the doubles portion.

Hastings added anyone who is a solid player can compete in the Michigan Senior Olympics and it not only includes Michigan residents but people from surrounding areas.

Hastings began playing pickleball six months ago when he received a paddle from his wife, Kaye, to help him recover from his knee replacement.

"She got it for me as a chance to get back into shape for my travel tennis I used to play," he added. "I got into it and liked it better than the tennis."

He admitted he was reluctant getting into the sport because of the name and stigma behind the sport.

"It was something for old people and it was the name," he laughed. "If it was called something like battle swords I would have been more excited. It isn't a good name for marketing the product."

Stu said the difference between tennis and pickleball was the speed - pickleball is a quicker and faster game. Pickleball is combination of racquetball, tennis, badminton and ping pong.

He added it was natural for him because he had a background in racquetball and travel tennis. He is in the Michigan Racquetball Hall of Fame.

"When I switched to pickleball I just put those same work ethics into it," he said.

Now Stu averages 27 hours a week playing pickleball and travels throughout Michigan and Ohio to practice and compete.

"You see different style of play differen players have who are successful," he added. "You can learn from the different styles and incorporate it into your game."

Recently he went to Toledo because some of the top players are there.

"They are good or better than Michigan players," he noted. "I go down there to chase the competition."

Stu added nine out of ten people who try it become addicted to pickleball.

"It is a great workout," he said. "It is something you can pick up in 15 minutes and be very confident and have fun doing whether you are young or old, really athletic or not very athletic. There are levels of play for everyone."

Over 100,000 play pickleball and it is a rapidly growing sport because of the level of play.

" It started out as older person sport because the court is the same size as a badminton court," Stu said. "It's smaller than a tennis court so less movement is more desirable for the older people. Younger people are taking up the game. They are bringing quickness, speed to the game."

Clarkston area residents can get started in pickleball by visiting the First Congregational Church of Clarkston, 5449 Clarkston Road, where they have pickleball sessions. They have a morning session Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30 -11:30 a.m., for $3 per visit; and 6-9 p.m. for $4 per visit.

Wendi graduated from the University of Michigan-Flint with a degree in communications. She wrote for the Michigan Times college paper and Grand Blanc View before joining The Clarkston News in October 2007. Follow Clarkston sports on Twitter @CNewsWRSports.
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