Platform Tennis at West Side Tennis Club or Crest Hollow

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WHEN I instructed people who I’d be taking a platform tennis lesson in Queens, I obtained many clean stares. ”You imply Ping-Pong?” one good friend requested. One other mentioned, “Is that like squash or racquetball?” Because it was the center of winter, nobody thought I’d be exterior braving the climate whereas chasing a ball. However on a shiny and chilly morning in January, that’s precisely what I meant to do. I walked into the dark-wood-paneled entrance of the West Facet Tennis Membership in Forest Hills, Queens, and was directed downstairs to the professional store, the place the platform tennis professional, Paul Wallack, launched himself with a hearty handshake. “Good day for it,” I mentioned. “Somewhat heat, truly,” he responded with a smile. It was a blustery 40 levels.Platform tennis, also known as paddle tennis or just “paddle,” was invented in Scarsdale, N.Y., in 1928 and is now performed on greater than 4,000 courts in the US, in accordance with the American Platform Tennis Affiliation. A majority of these courts are discovered within the suburbs and nation golf equipment of the Northeast and the Midwest. There’s even a Corridor of Fame (on-line just for now) that honors the greats of the game. The sport is performed open air within the winter with 4 gamers on a 60-by-30-foot fenced-in courtroom (round a 3rd the dimensions of a tennis courtroom). Gamers use a small composite racket with holes and a particular ball that’s heavier and fewer bouncy than a tennis ball. Gamers can hit the ball off the fencing: this separates the sport from tennis and provides it its personal taste. So does the chilly air, which deadens the ball and requires faster footwork. It’s a sport of angles and lobs. Factors can go on and on, and the sport rewards persistence and timing. The impulse is to attempt to smash each ball, however much less is commonly extra, and finesse ceaselessly wins the day. That mentioned, there are ample alternatives for smashing. The most effective a part of the sport is that so long as you realize the fundamentals — and costume in layers — you’ll be able to leap proper in for an pleasurable afternoon or night (most courts are lighted), operating round exterior within the winter. The three courts on the West Facet Tennis Membership sit within the shadow of the stadium the place the US Open was performed for many years. That was the place Althea Gibson and Arthur Ashe broke the colour barrier, the place gamers like Invoice Tilden, Billie Jean King, Rod Laver and Jimmy Connors all received titles. It’s additionally the place Alfred Hitchcock filmed elements of the memorable tennis scene from “Strangers on a Practice.” The stadium is in disrepair, however seeing it looming within the distance offers the proceedings an aura of historical past and professionalism that I most likely did not dwell as much as. Mr. Wallack, additionally the director of racquet sports activities at Crest Hole Nation Membership in Woodbury, N.Y., on Lengthy Island, went by the entire components of the sport with me and my two fellow college students. We practiced enjoying balls off the fences (known as screens), and he confirmed us the right positioning to dig a ball out of the nook. The tennis impulse is to hit each ball on the primary bounce, however in platform tennis you might be typically higher served by ready to play it off the display within the air earlier than it bounces once more. (That is just like enjoying the ball off a wall in racquetball.)We labored on serves and technique and spent appreciable time on collaboration and positioning. As a result of platform tennis has groups of two, interaction and communication are integral. The sport is about camaraderie greater than about competitors.“In the event you hit paddles, you’re doing it proper,” Mr. Wallack mentioned, after my accomplice and I had collided whereas pursuing a ball up the center. After going over the fundamentals, we performed a couple of observe video games. Earlier than I knew it, I used to be working up a sweat and shedding clothes. Had I overlayered? Perhaps the lengthy underwear was an excessive amount of. That’s after I realized that Mr. Wallack had been proper: it was a bit of heat for paddle on at the present time. Subsequent time I can be rooting for a temperature nearer to twenty levels.

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