MARCH 23, 2010
NEW CANAAN, CT
With 20+ private and public courts, several active leagues and host of both the 2010 Junior National and 2009 Mixed National tournaments, New Canaan, Connecticut is a hot bed for platform tennis.
When renovations to the community’s public platform tennis hut were recently completed, the adult league play became even more active, the recreation department ramped up its middle school program, but where were the high school players? In a town that is fortunate to have four public courts and a beautiful hut within walking distance from the high school, it seemed obvious that there should be high school paddle. There wasn’t.
Phoebe Wilks, currently a sophomore at NCHS who has participated in the Junior Viking Tour since age 12, was scrambling to find more playing time. While she and her partner Ariana Ross play once a week at their club - The New Canaan Field Club, Wilks was looking for a steadier stream of games and to get a deeper level of involvement from even more of her friends. “It was hard to get together a doubles game with everyone’s busy schedules, unless you have something regular on the calendar”, says Wilks.
Working with the high school, Wilks created a new club that would be open to anyone interested. With the help of her mother, Hooey Wilks, they secured afternoon courts at the public facility, attended the school’s club and activity fair, contacted players on both the girls’ and boys’ tennis teams and waited, fingers crossed. Sixteen players signed up this inaugural year – perfect for the four public courts. With a mix of boys and girls, the players’ abilities ranged from nationally ranked to novice. Most are tennis players who have been able to transfer their skills to paddle quickly. Since it was a school club, all the players got involved in moving it forward.
Bo Bogardus, a nationally ranked player was hired to work with the players two afternoons a week and matches were scheduled against other area schools. Greenwich High School also runs a platform tennis club for high school age players run by its girl’s varsity tennis coach, Betsy Underhill. St. Luke’s and the New Canaan Country School also have programs that take advantage of quiet afternoon courts at local country clubs. “It’s a great way to make use of afternoon courts and to keep kids interest up after the middle school programs end” says Bogardus, “and I hope to see other High Schools follow suit so we can get a robust schedule of matches for next year.”
Sophomore Gwen Van de Graaf says, “I think for a first year club, it was a total success. We all improved so much and had lots of fun with our friends!”
Wilks, Bogardus, and all her new paddle-mates are already looking forward to continuing the club next year and have put out the word to other area high schools. For more information visit http://sites.google.com/a/ncps-k12.org/nchs-paddle-tennis/ or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on junior paddle, including tournament schedules, results and articles please visit our APTA Junior Tour pages.
The "team" with coach Bo Borgardus
Liza Swindell and Phoebe Wilks
Gwen Van deGraaf
Sunny Zannini and Corbet Ripley