The Fox Chapel Racquet Club is the host of two platform tennis tournaments this weekend, opening with the President’s Cup regional tournament today and culminating in the three-day American Platform Tennis Association (APTA) national championships.
Platform tennis, often called “paddle,” emerged in the 1920s as an outdoor winter sport. The court is one-third the size of a traditional tennis court, is surrounded by a 12-foot fence and has a heating system installed beneath the deck.
Ann Sheedy, in her seventh year as APTA executive director, said she is thrilled to have the championships again in Pittsburgh, one of the major markets for the sport. The first national championships were in 1935, and Pittsburgh was the host city in 1997 and 2005.
Sheedy, a Fox Chapel native, called platform tennis “an addictive sport” that is social and competitive.
“It seems to attract an amazingly energetic group of people,” Sheedy said. “I guess that’s the type of people that like to be outside in winter!”
The primary markets for platform tennis are Chicago and the tri-state New York area, Sheedy said, but it has moved away from being a winter-only sport and has seen a recent surge in popularity in southern states.
The tournaments this weekend will feature 384 participants from 21 states. The President’s Cup tournament will pit the APTA’s seven regions against each other to establish regional supremacy. The national championship will include 112 men’s doubles teams and 80 women’s doubles teams.
The reigning men’s and women’s doubles champions will be returning this weekend to defend their titles and are currently the APTA’s top-ranked pairs.
Headlining the event is the men’s pairing of Johan du Randt of Weston, Mass., and Mark Parsons of Norwalk, Conn., who captured the men’s title a year ago in Franklin Lakes, N.J. Du Randt has two titles and two runners-up in the past four years.
The top local pair challenging for a championship is 13th-ranked Scott Kahler of Mt. Lebanon and Matt Riva of Carnegie.
Sheedy said teams do not need to qualify for the championships.
“Somebody can sign up to play against the Rafael Nadal of our sport,” Sheedy said. “That’s something a little neat and a little different. That may change over time because these things are getting so popular, but at the moment it’s really a fun thing.”
The matches are open to the public and will be played at 10 venues around Pittsburgh. The championship matches will be played Sunday at Fox Chapel Racquet Club. Parking and shuttle information can be found at www.platformtennis.org.
Stephen J. Nesbitt: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-290-2183 and Twitter @stephenjnesbitt.