Tennis is my first and true love. But after playing a few rounds of platform tennis (paddle), I find myself charmed by this outdoor winter sport. What is paddle tennis? There is some naming confusion between very similar sports. I hope this brief overview will shed some light on the game “by any other name”.
Often called “paddle”, despite other sports with similar names, platform tennis is a racquet sport derived from tennis, developed in 1928 in Scarsdale, New York by James Cogswell and Fessenden Blanchard. It is an American racquet sport enjoyed by thousands of people of all ages. It is the only racquet sport that players can enjoy outdoors in cold weather. This unique appeal attracts people who desire fresh air, competition, and social engagement—all on a chilly winter’s day or night.
The sport is played at private clubs, public facilities, and in backyards at both highly competitive and purely recreational levels. Because it is easy to learn, it is enjoyed by players as young and old.
Platform Tennis Court: The game is played on an aluminum deck about 1/3 the size of a court is surrounded by a 12′ high superstructure with taut, 16-gauge “chicken wire” fencing which allows play off the walls, as in racquetball and squash. Historically, the court has been elevated or on a platform and heated, allowing athletes to play outdoors in all-weather conditions.
Platform Tennis Equipment: Platform tennis paddles are made of a composite material with aerodynamic holes drilled in the head. Paddles are approximately 18″ long. The spongy, rubber ball measures 2.5″ in diameter. A flocking material on its exterior keeps the ball from skidding.
Paddle tennis traces its roots back almost 100 years to its development by an Episcopal minister, Frank Peer Beal, in lower Manhattan. It is a game adapted from tennis and played for over a century. The game is gaining reputation and has spread out in many countries in Europe, Dubai and even Egypt, where local leagues and tournaments are organized frequently.
Paddle Tennis Court: Compared to tennis, the court is smaller and has no doubles lanes, and the net is lower. The same court is used for both singles and doubles, with doubles being the dominant form of play. The smaller court size adds a strong emphasis and advantage to net play and creates a fast and reaction-based game.
Paddle Tennis Equipment: Paddle tennis is played with a solid paddle as opposed to a strung racquet, and a pressureless tennis ball is used along with an underhand serve.
Padel (also known as padel tennis) is a racquet sport played extensively in Spain and Latin America and extending fast in Europe. The height of the ball being served must be at or below the waist level. Scoring is the same as normal tennis and the balls used are similar but with less pressure. The court has glass walls and the balls can be played off them, similar to squash. The sport was invented in Acapulco, Mexico, by Enrique Corcuera in 1969. It is currently most popular in Hispanic American countries such as Argentina and Mexico as well as in Spain, although it is now beginning to spread rapidly across Europe and other continents.
Padel Court: Padel is typically played in doubles on a glass enclosed court about half the size of a tennis court. There’s an open doorway that the players can run out of to put a stray ball back in play (it’s wild!).
Padel Equipment: The balls used are similar to tennis but pressureless. Solid, stringless racquets are used similar to platform and paddle tennis with a slightly different shape.
There are a few other paddle sports gaining popularity such as beach tennis and pickle ball among others. All of these sports were in some way influenced by classic tennis, which just goes to show that tennis is such an amazing sport we will come up with anything just to keep on playing.
Get out and play all day!