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The better than ever newly-renovated platform tennis (paddle) courts at Manorhaven Park.

Platform tennis ... is it a "new" sport? Well, not exactly, but it is not as old as baseball, basketball, golf or tennis. Its birth date is attributed to 1928 in Scarsdale, NY and this year it is being "reborn" at Manorhaven Park in Port Washington. Two new courts have been installed and are ready for play.

On Saturday, Oct. 22, the Long Island Platform Tennis Association (LIPTA) in cooperation with the Town of North Hempstead Department of Parks and Recreation will be conducting an exhibition to demonstrate how the sport is played. There will also be a free instructional clinic to introduce players of all ages to the game. The activity will start at 10 a.m. with the men's exhibition scheduled for noon and a woman's feature at 12:30 p.m. Information about the sport will be provided and refreshments served. At present there is no fee for the use of the courts by residents of the Town of North Hempstead.

Platform tennis is a sport invented by Americans, Fessenden Blanchard and James Cogswell, who were searching for a way to exercise out-of-doors in the winter to replace the lawn tennis that they played in the spring and summer. They built a wooden deck in Cogswell's backyard and surrounded it with "chicken wire" to prevent the ball from rolling away. Initially they played the same way they played tennis with wooden racquets that had small holes, like those used in a street game called "paddle tennis." At one point they found that playing the ball off the wires, similar to action in the sports of racquetball and squash, added a special dimension to the game. Platform tennis, which is often referred to by its nickname "paddle" was born. The word "platform" comes from the fact that the courts are built several feet above ground level to expedite the removal of snow from the playing surface.

Most of the rules of the sport are similar to tennis. The major exception, in addition to the ability to play off the wires (or screens), is the "one serve." In tennis, the server has two opportunities to place the serve in play. In paddle only one is provided. The inventors determined this because they wanted the game to keep moving in the cold weather in which they played. Also, in a relatively new rule, a serve touching the net is played, whereas in tennis it is a "let" and is done over. A full set of rules can be found on the website of the governing body of the sport, the American Platform Tennis Association (APTA), www.platformtennis.org.

LIPTA, the local organization for the game, also has a website. It has information about tournaments that the association sponsors on Long Island and national championship events that it conducts for the APTA. Its address is www.lipta.com. Further, as an incentive to become active in platform tennis, LIPTA will be offering a one-year membership to first year players for $35, a reduction from the current fee of $60. It includes membership in the APTA and will include a subscription to five issues of its publication, Platform Tennis magazine. LIPTA also conducts a men's league, which plays on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, from October to March. It is hoped that teams representing Manorhaven Park can be formed for the 2006-2007 season.

Any questions regarding the clinic and exhibition on Oct. 22 can be answered by contacting Paul Blake at the town of North Hempstead Department of Parks and Recreation at 327-3110 or LIPTA representative, Charles Vasoll at 746-7052.


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