Father (86) & Son (57) Team Make the Finals


Alan and James Goldman waited 20 years to compete together in the Masters Men’s 145+ Nationals—an age-combined paddle tournament. The father/son team talks about their partnership over the years.

Paddle Long-Timers

Alan Goldman (86 years old) is in his 52nd year of platform tennis. An accomplished baseball, basketball, and tennis player, Alan tried platform tennis for the first time in 1973, when Bradford Bath and Tennis Club in Cedar Grove, NJ, added courts. “I thought it was a terribly difficult game. But my tennis partner, Dick Goelzer, and I decided we might as well do it.” Alan has been competing in league play and tournaments ever since, including the Masters events through the ages—Men’s 50+, 60+, 70+, and 145+.

James Goldman (57 years old) started playing tennis when he was very young and picked up paddle by being thrown into the men’s league at age 16. “My dad was captain of a team in the D League, and he put me in the lineup on court 4. I couldn't get my serve in. I lost every match.” An All-American tennis player at Tufts University near Boston, James moved to Chicago for law school. He joined Lake Shore Fitness Club, which had four paddle courts on the roof. Thirty years later, he still loves competing. 

Getting to the 145s 

Starting when James was 8 years old, the Goldmans participated in dozens of father/son tennis tournaments.  They won a few major events—the 1983 National Equitable Tournament (where the son must be under 19), and, more recently, the Ultra Father/Son Nationals (where the father must be over 80). In the paddle realm, they competed at the 1992 Nationals (losing to champions Bob Kleinert and Rich Maier in the first round, 6-0, 6-0) and in the Hinsdale Series tournament for years (photo below is from 2010). James enjoyed the time on the court with his dad and wanted more opportunities. He said, “About 20 years ago, Dad mentioned he was playing in the 145s. I did the math and figured out we could play together in 2024. Dad wasn’t sure he would still be playing. I told him to hold on because I knew I’d still be playing. Right then, I started the countdown.”

Alan said, “I've been aspiring to win the 145s for a long time, but I never had a partner as good as James. We came pretty close this year. Our strategy was for James to hit as many balls as he wished and as many balls as he could reach. That worked for five sets and then it didn't work.” After beating the second seeds in the semifinals, the father/son team lost a three-set battle in the finals. They enjoyed every minute.


    Asked about their favorite shots on the paddle court, Alan replied, “Years ago, my ex-wife, James's mother, asked me what I thought my best shot was. I said, ‘That’s easy, it’s my forehand.’ She disagreed and said it was my running. There's almost nobody we come across in paddle who is my age and still has my court coverage. Anyway, I still think my best shot is my forehand.”

James said, “My favorite shots were when my dad hit winners past the younger guys. They would cheat toward the middle and my dad would hit a winner up the line. That happened a few times at game point.”

Alan said, proudly, “My favorite moments were seeing James hit the most amazing shots. He's an incredible volleyer. Nobody's more competitive than he is, and nobody's nicer on the court.”

Will they play the 145s next year? Absolutely.

[Math Note: While their ages add up to just 143, the 145+ is based on the age at year-end. Both men will have a birthday this year to get them to 145. The APTA sends early birthday wishes.] 

See All Blog Posts