Platform tennis is the cure for the winter blues

Fri, Mar 18
PaddleballCourtesy of Matt LindnerWhen the weather outside is frightful, paddleball is so delightful.

GOLF, Ill. -- Platform tennis star Johan Du Randt is much, much better at playing his sport of choice than he is at explaining what exactly it is.

"Tennis and squash combined a little bit in a cage, I guess," the former pro tennis player says.

"It's tough to explain," adds his doubles partner Matt Porter. "I think if aliens were watching us play, they'd want to know 'What are these human beings doing?'"

Of course, aliens wouldn't necessarily be the only ones confused by the sights and sounds provided by the American Platform Tennis Association's National Championships at the Glen View Club near Chicago.

The players' constant movement on the heated aluminum surface punctuated by the constant thwap! paddle striking foam rubber ball as the biggest event in tennis's answer to arena football played out before a crowd of hundreds.

Most of the 550 participants in this weekend's tournament are former tennis players like Du Randt, a South Africa native now living in Boston. He took up the game four years ago and says it wasn't nearly as easy a transition as he thought it was going to be.

"You've gotta be way more patient which is a tough thing for all us tennis players," he said with a laugh.

That's because unlike in regular tennis, you can't just hit the ball as hard as you can and expect it to get by your opponent.

Platform tennis courts are roughly ¼ the size of a regulation outdoor tennis court. The power game is negated by chicken wire. Yes, chicken wire fencing, which surrounds the court on all sides and is as much in play as the lines on the court themselves.

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