Atlanta Update - January 2008

PETER LAUER
JANUARY 28, 2008
ATLANTA, GA

Twenty-nineTeams (up from 18 in '07) competed in the 3rd Annual Peachtree Invitational Platform Tennis Tournament, held at the VERY newly constructed paddle venue at Cherokee Town Club in Buckhead Atlanta, GA). The event was extraordinary for a host of reasons, not the least of which is that the Saturday matches were during a freak snowstorm. The snow made for a storybook opening-day at the Cherokee site, which was completed at 9pm the night before.

Tournament organizer and Region VII President Peter Lauer, remarked on the whole experience of building new courts and running the event: "At Cherokee, our project, begun in September, was 3 parts civil engineering and 1 part court construction. Our engineering drawings called for cutting a 150 yard temporary access road to reach the site, and then to cut away "Mt. Busbey" (as it is known at Cherokee - removing 127 dump truck loads of earth), constructing a massive retaining wall with built in stadium style viewing, adding an underground water retention system (to meet code), building 2 courts in an L configuration, and then full restoration / landscaping.

A dedicated team of people, lead by Art Brannen, a fellow Cherokee member who builds things for a living, and Beth Clay, our head of tennis (and now racquets) and who you'd think builds things for a living, came together to turn the vision into reality. They finished with literally hours to spare on Friday night Jan 18 visit our blog tab on the PPL website for photos, including our tennis pros donning rubber boots & shovels - www.peachtreepaddle.org

Meanwhile, a friend, sponsor and member of the League, Steve Gareleck (raised in Buffalo, NY), who had never played paddle until last year, caught the bug and decided to build a court in his backyard, including the "whale bar" - an after paddle paradise overlooking the court, with huge screen TV, leather comfy chairs, pool tables and lot's more - Bulletworks built the court late last fall, in time for a fabulous 40th birthday bash for his business partner, Rem Reynolds (raised in Rye, NY), and which morphed into a paddle party.

Tournament day, January 19th was a wild ride. 24 hours before the event, the weather forecast changed from partly cloudy and 45 deg, to 32 and a winter storm warning. We had 58 players, 6 from out of town (including APTA President Mark Fischl), converging on the 5 heater-less Atlanta courts, with matches beginning at 8am. We began a scramble on Friday, in the middle of final court construction, to get maintenance crews ready and salt (which sold out in record time from Home Depots).

Fortuitously at Cherokee, David Dodge and the Team from Premier Platform Tennis, had rented 5 temporary heaters to dry the paint faster in time for the tournament. At our request, David kept the heaters in place and his crew an extra day running the machines to keep the courts playable -which worked. Meanwhile, Jennifer Hayes, our unflappable volunteer tournament director, along with Beth Clay (who was supposed to be off duty), did a marvelous job of retooling the match schedules and informing the players, as the weather continued to worsen on Saturday and eventually shut down the other courts.

Saturday night's party at the Lauer house went great, albeit with fewer guests, which meant that here were enough sponsor donated raffle prizes for every one of the 45 guests who braved the night. Sunday, which was cold but sunny, required a delayed start at each club, but we managed to play all the rescheduled consolation matches and award the unique player prizes donated by Mori Luggage & Gifts. For the finals, we attracted a terrific crowd, despite the 22 degree temperature, who got to see a close match (6-4, 6-4) between the # 3 seeded team of J. Laschinger (raised in NY) and Jack Sutherland (Long Island) against me and my partner and friend from Atlanta, Jay Bailey. In the end we were able to defend our title for another year - but the competition for the Peachtree Invitational keeps getting better.

In all, I'm very pleased to report that paddle is alive, exciting & growing down here in Dixie - I hope APTA members from around the country will put the Peachtree Invitational on their tournament schedule for next year - and I can (almost) guarantee no snow - it never snows here" (Peter says with a wide grin).

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