Many of you may wonder what paddle tennis is... Paddle is an outdoor racquet sport generally played in the evening in cool or cold weather, combining the best elements of tennis with racquetball and squash.
The Court is smaller than a tennis court and is surrounded by tightly strung, heavily gauged wire fencing (also known as screens) that lets players keep the ball in play after the ball hits off the court and then the screens. Paddle tennis generally takes place on a raised platform, allowing for heaters underneath the deck that can melt off the winter elements of snow and ice. The surface of the court is gritted to prevent participants from slipping in wet weather. Players warm up in our hut while they watch other matches being played.
How is the game played?
While players often refer to platform tennis as "paddle," it is not the same as actual paddle tennis, which is essentially a down-sized version of tennis primarily played on the West Coast. Platform tennis is a doubles sport, with two players on each side of the 34" high net.
Platform tennis can be a fast-paced game of speed, power and quick thinking. It can also be a game of finesse, patience and strategy. It can be highly competitive or just plain social. It is what you make it, and that is what makes it a great sport for everyone.
The rules of platform tennis are identical to tennis with a few exceptions, the first of which makes the game unique. Did your opponent hit an incredible shot that went right past you? No problem. Get to the back of the court and play the ball after it hits the screen. This added feature keeps the point going longer and adds a dimension to the game that is missing in tennis. Another main exception is on the serve where there are two main differences: You are allowed only one serve and serves that touch the net and land in the service box (known as 'let' serves in tennis) are played.
Who is playing platform tennis?
The answer, everyone! From ages 8 to 80, men and women, well conditioned jocks and arm-chair warriors; absolutely everyone can play and enjoy it. Those with some racquet skills tend to pick up the game more quickly, but previous experience hitting a ball with any kind of club, racquet or other utensil is not necessary. People who would consider themselves non-athletes have a blast playing paddle. The nature of the game lends itself perfectly to partnering experienced players with new ones, allowing the beginners to pick up the finer points of the game in a match environment.
The pace of the game is controlled by the players. While they need to be quick, both on their feet and in their thinking, the game can be just as exciting for less agile competitors. As well, it is the perfect sport for children, who can learn the basic skills of racquet sports on a smaller playing surface than tennis and with a livelier ball than squash. The wires surrounding the court also mean that kids aren't spending time chasing after errant balls. Competitive tournaments and clinics for children are held across every region, instilling sportsmanship and a competitive spirit.
What equipment is needed to play?
Consistent with tennis racquets, paddles have evolved over the years. Wooden paddles have moved on to high-tech racquets made of a composite material with aerodynamic holes drilled in the head. Paddles are approximately 18" long. Currently, there are several manufacturers of paddles that have designed different styles of paddles for different types of players. Generally paddles cost from $75 to upwards of $200.
Platform tennis balls are a solid, spongy rubber ball measuring 2.5" in diameter. A bright flocking material on its exterior keeps the ball from skidding in the wet weather and enhances it's visibility. A sleeve of three platform tennis ball retails at around $10.
The warming hut serves a dual purpose; as the name suggests, it's the perfect place to warm up and to leave your gear, but it also provides a venue for socializing. The official season runs from fall, straight through the winter and ends in early spring. Unofficially? It's always open season for paddle tennis so get to the courts!
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