What is Platform Tennis?

PaddlesAbout the Game
It has been described as "the chess game of racquet sports." It is a unique outdoor tennis game, generally played in cold weather, that requires the patience of a tortoise combined with the speed of a hare. It is a game in which raw power is not the ultimate weapon, but finesse and accuracy are rewarded. Primarily a doubles game, teamwork between partners is also an important feature.

Platform Tennis, also known as paddle tennis, is played on a 20-foot-by-44-foot court, about one-third the size of a conventional tennis court, and is surrounded by 12-foot high "chicken wire" screens. These are located eight feet behind the base lines and five feet from the sidelines. Service lines are drawn in the same manner as tennis.

Rules of the Game
Tennis BallsMost of the rules follow regular tennis including the scoring which is 15, 30, 40 and game. There are, however, a few major differences that make Platform Tennis a significantly different game.

The first major rule difference is that there is only one serve. If the initial serve is not hit in the receiving area the server loses the point. There is no "second chance" as in tennis.

The most intriguing difference, however, is the use of the screens to keep the ball in play. Just as in tennis, a player may return a shot by either hitting it before it hits the deck or after letting it bounce one time, playing it as a ground stroke. In platform tennis, however, the player has an additional option. The ball is allowed to rebound off the screen after hitting the deck and then is hit before it hits the deck again.

Game Equipment
The equipment used in the game consists of a short-handled, hard surface paddle and a sponge rubber ball. The paddle has a maximum of 78 holes which is designed to reduce wind resistance and assist in placing spin on the ball. The paddle is 17 inches long and weighs 13 to 17 ounces. The ball is 2.5 inches in diameter and has a yellow "flocking" which is intended to improve its visibility and enhance the player's control of its flight. Clothing worn by players defies description. There are no prohibitions except that a form of tennis shoe must be worn for safety and preservation of the court surface. In extremely cold weather, players are advised to use several "layers" of dress which are usually peeled off as the play warms up.

Additional Information
Platform tennis is also called paddle tennis, or just paddle, for short. For more information concerning the game of paddle, go to the American Platform Tennis Association's website. For more information concerning paddle in the Western Pennsylvania area, go to the Western Pennsylvania Platform Tennis Association's website. There you will find league information, match scores, local tournament information and more.