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State of the Sport Address: The College Platform Tennis Edition
Please visit our Growing the Sport
After eight years of playing paddle and three years of passionately promoting college platform tennis I offer some observations, advice, and optimism for the future of the sport at the college level. There has been a lot of talk about college platform tennis and, I’m pleased to say, something to show for it too.
At Yale University Kate Macauley (Yale ’11) and Rob Coster (APTA College Program Chair) have done a great job securing two courts at a nearby country club, getting support from local players and enthusiasts, and holding weekly events for Yalies. After two years in the making, Yale Platform Tennis Club has thirty students of all abilities on the roster and about ten players who play each week. Kate has been successful by recruiting Yale friends to play and has grown interest through club fair events at school.
At Georgetown University I have had a more difficult time growing interest and accessing area courts. In exchange for teaching clinics and lessons, I obtained a time slot on weekends for students to play at an area country club. Yet, after two years, I continue to struggle to get interested students out to courts that are at least twenty minutes away by car and fifty minutes by public transportation. Most students have had minimal to no previous exposure to the sport and, with lots of on campus distractions, are unlikely to travel to courts that are simply too far away. In the meantime, I have loved playing in the thriving DC Men’s League. Paddle is HUGE in DC; it’s just been difficult translating that success to the college level.
At other universities college platform tennis has great growth potential, thanks to new courts and platform tennis transplants. UNC has three new courts on campus that will support future intramural and club programs. Marty Pomerantz (UNC recreation director), Rich Green (incoming Region VII president), and past junior paddle participants that are now Tar Heel freshmen will guide the new program. Students and paddle enthusiasts at George Washington University, University of Virginia, University of Richmond, Colorado College, Bucknell University, and Princeton University have all expressed interest in platform tennis programs but still need local support!
Court accessibility, school support, and peer participation are the main challenges, in that order, in getting a successful college program off the ground. Georgetown, Yale, UNC and other universities have started to successfully confront these obstacles. However, further progress depends on more participation and feedback from EVERYONE involved in the sport (juniors too!). There has been a lot of dialogue about college platform tennis, and I’m confident more dialogue will continue to translate into action. I cannot wait for next year’s state of the sport address after the Georgetown Hoyas win the first college platform tennis national championship!
Chris Kelley hails from Wilton, CT, and helps out with the APTA College Program and APTA Web Site committees while procrastinating on homework as a student at Georgetown University (COL ’11). He is a past junior tournament player and youth instructor and is currently an enthusiastic college platform tennis promoter. Please contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions and comments or if you want to get in touch with the various platform tennis enthusiasts mentioned above!