Keeping himself fit is important to Nick Zacharczenko, and finding different ways to do it is always a lot of fun.
An accomplished tennis player, snowshoer and track and field athlete, Zacharczenko, 58, grew up in Delhi and now lives in Ballston Lake. When he's not in the middle of some sporting event, he works as a dentist with offices in Clifton Park and Cooperstown.
And, when he's not pulling teeth or throwing the javelin, you might find him at his writing desk. After producing a children's book called "Catskill Critters" in 2015, he has recently come out with two more books chronicling his educational experience; "Dental School: A Bizarre Comedy," and "Pharmacy College: Crazy Daze and Hazy Nites." He used a pseudonym for the two books, Dr. I. Mayputz, and they are both filled with comedy.
"I guess I've always been something of a writer because I wrote a lot of scientific literature for pharmacy and dental textbooks, and some nature magazines," said Zacharczenko. "I still do a little scientific writing, but my writing has morphed into pleasure writing. I have my own publishing company now and I use a company out of Knoxville, Tennessee, to actually print the books. Before I do that I have some people look at it and I have a layout artist who works with me. It's a lot of fun."
Zacharczenko was born in Buffalo but moved to the Delhi area with his family as a young boy.
"My father was a professor at Delhi Tech and he was also the tennis coach," said Zacharczenko, who often goes by Dr. Zach. "He put a wooden Jack Kramer model in my hands when I was just a kid."
Zacharczenko became one of the top high school players in Section IV, but then drifted away from the game a bit while he was going to college. He has degrees from Albany College of Pharmacy in 1982 (he remains a registered pharmacist "to better evaluate your oral and medical conditions") and New York University's College of Dentistry in 1986. He moved to the Ballston Lake area soon after becoming a dentist and slowly got back into playing competitive tennis.
"I came from a real sports family, so I always knew I was going to keep active and in shape doing something," said Zacharczenko. "My father and mother always played tennis so I just grew up that way, and when I moved here I started playing with guys like Phil Ackerman and the Bellcourts (Scott and Greg). I really hadn't played much at all in college, but playing with those guys will get your act together. They're some of the best players in the area."
Zacharczenko's tennis game was good enough to earn him a spot in the USTA-Eastern Section rankings. He's been ranked in the 45 and over division, the 50 and over division and secured for himself a top ten spot in the 55 and over division. Tennis, however, isn't his only competitive outlet. He also competes in the 100 and 200-yard dashes as well as the javelin throw and is ranked nationally in those events. And then there's the snowshoeing.
In 2012, Zacharczenko won both the 100 and 200-meter races at the International Snowshoe Championships in Gatineau, Canada. He also finished first in the two events the previous year.
"When I turned 50 I beat some of the best snowshoers in the world," said Zacharczenko. "But it is very hard on the body, and I just do it now for pleasure. I no longer compete. What I do now is try to play tennis two or three times a week, and I go to the gym at least three times a week and lift heavy weights."
Zacharczenko says he isn't slowing down at all, but he does make sure he doesn't overdo it.
"I had knee surgery a couple of years ago and there's always something going on with your body," he said. "You have to be careful."
Zacharczenko and his wife, Sherelyn, have two grown children. Brigette was a tennis and track standout at Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake who went on to McGill University and then the University of Connecticut where she got a Ph.D in ecology and evolutionary biology. Alex was class valedictorian at Albany Academy, a standout on the track who graduated from Brown University and is currently at Duke Law School.