Platform tennis is an American racquet sport (also referred to as ‘paddle’) was developed in 1928 in New York by James Cogswell and Fessenden Blanchard. The game is played both competitively and for recreational purposes. Played at private clubs, public facilities and in backyards, the sport has universal appeal to players of all ages.
What is platform tennis and how does one play? The court is an important part of the game. Players gather on an aluminum deck approximately ⅓ the size of a tennis court surrounded by a 12’ high structure with 16-gauge ‘chicken wire’ fencing. This allows individuals to play off the walls, similar to racquetball and squash. The platform allows space underneath for installation of heating equipment which together with lighting can allow for year-long play, even in colder weather. Court dimensions are usually 60 feet (18 m) long by 30 feet (9.1 m) width. THe court itself measures 44 feet (13 m) in length by 22 feet (6.7 m) and is divided by a net which is kept at a height of 34 inches (860 mm) at the center and 37 inches (940 mm) at either end.
Playing the Game
Two components make up the game of platform tennis: equipment and rules of play. Play at a competitive level or recreational one can be incredibly engaging and exciting.
Equipment: platform tennis paddles are made of composite material using aerodynamic holes drilled into the head. Paddles are approximately 18” long. The ball is rubber which measures 2.5” in diameter. A flocking material on the exterior keeps the ball from skidding on the surface during play.
Rules: the United States Paddle Tennis Association (USPTA) governs requirements for platform tennis rules of play. Individuals must wear proper court attire and wear non-marking rubber soled shoes. A toss (or paddle spin) is done with the winning player choosing between the side and serve. If player chooses to serve, the opponent gets the side and vice versa. The player serves only once and, in the case of a fault, loses a point. If the ball is missed during the serve or the ball touches the net, this is considered a fault. The ball can be tossed in the air or bounced behind the court baseline but the method must then be used for the whole set. In single matches with a return serve, the server must wait for the ball to bounce before returning. In doubles matches, only one player can strike the ball. The scoring goes as follows: first point is 15, second point 30, third point 40, fourth point is game. To win a set, the player should have a lead with a two game margin over the opponent. Match is usually best of three sets.
One of the most important focus to consider when thinking what is platform tennis is to abide by the rules, keep competition free and fair and, most of all, have fun.