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About Platform Tennis

History: Platform Tennis (also known as “Paddle”) was started in Scarsdale, New York by James Cogswell and Fessenden Blanchard.  Out of winter boredom, the two gathered some paddles, balls, wood sticks, and chicken wire, creating the Platform Tennis sport.  In order to keep balls from flying into snow banks, they surrounded the court with fencing. Eventually, playing off the fence was introduced by accident when a ball got stuck in the wire during play. Platform tennis has taken the best elements of tennis, racquetball, and squash and combined them into one sport. It's played outdoors in cool or cold weather, especially at night, and can be played either singles or doubles. Platform is exclusively played during the winter because the ball does not bounce properly in warmer weather.

Court: Today, a Platform Tennis court is surrounded by 12’ high screens, or “chicken wire” fencing, which enables players to play off the walls.  The court's dimensions are half those of a tennis court, measuring 30’ x 60' (tennis courts are 60’ x 120’).  The floors are either ground-level concrete or aluminum deck that has been raised to allow space for a heating system to melt snow or ice off the deck. The floor also has a gritty texture to prevent slipping.

Paddle: You must play with a paddle that is more than 18” long.  The paddle head is made up of a composite material that must be perforated with 3/8-inch aerodynamic holes, and cannot have more than 87 holes

Ball: Platform Tennis Balls come in bright colors so that they are easily visible at night and through various weather conditions.  Balls are sold in sleeves of 3.  They are heavier than a tennis ball and have a rubbery-fuzzy exterior which is called flocking.  After every match, platform balls should be thrown away due to balding. Gritty paddle faces and perforated sharp holes rip away the balls exterior.

Rules: In order to determine who serves first, one player must spin a paddle and whoever the paddle points to, is the person who decides if they would like to receive or serve first.  The server must place the ball diagonally in the correct area of the receiver’s side of the court before the receiver returns it.  The server loses the point if the serve is a fault. 

Faults are committed when you miss the ball during service, when you stand in the wrong position for service, when you step over the baseline as you serve, when you miss the correct area of the receiver’s court, or when you hit your partner or any other part of the court with the ball besides the net.  The exceptions to this rule are if the ball is hit to your side and then bounces off a light fixture, a post, umpire chair, enclosure support beam, or any part of the net.  In these cases, the ball is considered fair and you must attempt to return it.  You would lose the point, if after the ball bounces on your side of the court, hit one of these fixtures, and then bounced on your side of the court again.  After each serve, teammates should take turns to receive the ball, and after every odd-numbered game, team members should switch sides as well.

In order to score points in a platform tennis game the opposing team’s ball would have to hit the cage before it bounces, or if their ball goes over the fence.  If a ball hits the opposite team member during play or if anyone hits any part of the net with their body, clothing, or equipment, a point is also scored.  If the ball at any time lands outside of the court, the other team would also score a point.

Keeping score in a Platform Tennis game is similar to a tennis game in that you start at “love” (zero), and then move on to 15, 30, 40 and Deuce (or game).  Six games are considered a set, and you have to win by 2 games to take the set.  A match consists of 3 sets and you would settle a tie with a 12-point tiebreaker.