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Platform springboards tennis game's popularity
1-15-2007
Chapel Hill News

Chapel Hill, NC
By William Elliott Warnock, Sports Editor ChapelHillNews.com
CHAPEL HILL -- Easy to play but difficult to master, platform tennis long has been treated by most players much the same way golfers think of hickory shafts and wooden putters. Beautiful, even elegant, but probably not something they would try. Give it a chance, say platform enthusiasts. "I love this sport," says Lauren Herman, assistant director of tennis at the Chapel Hill tennis Club. "It is addicting, fast paced and fun, yet pretty easy to learn. I will now look forward to cold days to get out on the paddle courts when outdoor tennis is not an option." full story from chapelhillnews.com



reprinted from http://www.chapelhillnews.com/107/story/4802.html
chapelhillnews.com
By William Elliott Warnock, Sports Editor

chapelhillpaddle
Some players already have gotten in some game time since the Chapel Hill Tennis Club has installed two new platform tennis courts, giving them the only publicly accessible paddle courts in central North Carolina.
Photo by Taylor Bowen

CHAPEL HILL -- Easy to play but difficult to master, platform tennis long has been treated by most players much the same way golfers think of hickory shafts and wooden putters.

Beautiful, even elegant, but probably not something they would try.

Give it a chance, say platform enthusiasts.

"I love this sport," says Lauren Herman, assistant director of tennis at the Chapel Hill tennis Club. "It is addicting, fast paced and fun, yet pretty easy to learn. I will now look forward to cold days to get out on the paddle courts when outdoor tennis is not an option."

Herman is among the local players who have experienced the game first hand. The Chapel Hill Tennis Club installed two platform courts recently, and it will host an all-day series of exhibitions, lessons and games on Jan. 27. The event is free and open to the public.

Platform or "paddle tennis" tolerates cold weather better than lawn tennis. Frigid temperatures won't affect the perforated paddles, because there are no strings to pop. The elevated (hence "platform") court is smaller than standard outdoor courts, and usually has a fine grit to increase traction, a useful trait that allows most platform players to keep playing in conditions that would force others inside. Sometimes, they are heated from underneath.

The skinny on platform tennis
  • EQUIPMENT: sneakers; paddle (available for trials and purchase in CHTC pro shop); balls (games usually require just one); eye protection; paddle mitt (for extremely cold weather).
  • COURT: an elevated, aluminum deck, 60 by 30 feet, with a court 44 feet by 20; it is surrounded with taut, 16-gauge "chicken wire" fencing, 12 feet high, allowing for play off the walls.
  • RULES: generally the same as lawn tennis , except ... one serve; lets are played; balls are played off screens and back walls (see www.PlatformTennis.org for complete rules.)
  • TIPS: Games are usually played as doubles, though singles are possible; platform tennis strokes are similar to standard tennis strokes (NOT like racquetball or squash) but a shortened swing is recommended; most points are lost rather than won -- defense and patience are more important than offense. Proper positioning and knowing where not to hit the ball and how to stay out of trouble are more valuable than hitting a few winners.
  • Still want more information? See: www.PlatformTennis.org or www.PlatformTennisSouth.blogspot.com or www.PaddlePro.com.
  • For more about the clinics and exhibitions on Jan. 27, see http://www.chapelhilltennisclub.com/ or future editions of The Chapel Hill News.

Enclosing screens along the backs and sides lend themselves to different rules, chief among them being the ability to play balls off the walls. The enclosure also creates a cozier, even social, atmosphere that many players relish.

"You know you've had a good, long platform tennis point when at the end of it everyone is laughing and no one can remember the score or even who was serving," Taylor Bowen says.

The American Platform Tennis Association's "official" competitive season for tournaments runs from October through March, though platform tennis can be played year-round. One small problem with higher temperatures is that the ball is just harder to control in warmer air.

"Paddle players don't give up tennis, but many play less tennis in the winter during the official paddle season," local enthusiast Rick Green says.

The game has been most popular in northern states, where weather has made paddles and platform courts a virtual necessity for those who want to continue court games in the outdoors. APTA members and others would love to see the game take off in southern climates.

"There is no reason platform tennis shouldn't thrive in the Triangle area," says Mark Fischl, APTA president.

Well, now there isn't. Until the Chapel Hill Tennis Club installed its platform courts, there was no publicly accessible site for the game between Winston-Salem and east of Raleigh. Even those neighboring platforms are available by invitation only.

The Chapel Hill Tennis Club plans to allow non-members to play on the platform courts with the purchase of a Winter Access Pass.

"Having the paddle courts right outside my office has given me the opportunity to observe all different types of individuals giving it a go," Michal Zaluski, CHTC director of tennis, says. "Almost all of them, after 15 to 30 minutes of playing around, figure out the game to a point where they are enjoying the experience."

One does not have to have any experience with tennis, or any racquet sport, to pick up and love paddle tennis, says Bowen, APTA South Region president.

"Tennis just doesn't float my boat like platform tennis does," Bowen says. "I love platform's long, creative points. It's such a great workout --and fun.

"In (lawn) tennis most points are over after a hit or two, then you chase the balls down. A good point in platform tennis will last 30-40 shots or more. I love the concentration and skills points like that require."

Most observers agree that strategy, patience and ball placement matter a lot more in platform tennis than raw, physical talent.

Many aspects of platform tennis equalize the game for men, women and different ages playing together at similar levels. Hence, the CHTC exhibitions and clinics will feature special sections for seniors and juniors.

"From what I have seen, it is a great sport that really complements the game of tennis," Zaluski says. "You can get a great workout, physically, mentally and have a great time."

 






 



 
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