“It’s the fastest growing racquet sport in the country right now,” he said. “We’re just trying to grow it in the South.”
The similarities between paddle tennis and traditional tennis end at the appearance of the court, making it safe to say that paddle tennis is an adaptation of traditional tennis.
The paddle tennis court is about a quarter of the size of a tennis court and is surrounded by a wire fence that can be incorporated into game play.
Paddle tennis, as the name implies, requires the use of solid paddles rather than strung racquets to hit a ball that looks like a hybrid between a tennis ball and a lacrosse ball.
Platform tennis is paddle tennis played on a raised court that solves the drainage issues faced by traditional tennis courts. This allows the game to be played even during inclement weather.
Pomerantz was first exposed to platform tennis when he was a graduate student at Michigan State University.
“It was pretty popular, but I just thought it was a great sport,” he said. “I discovered you don’t have to have great skill to enjoy playing, whereas in tennis you have to be pretty skilled or else you’re not going to really enjoy the game.”
The professionals playing at the event shared similar thoughts.
The general consensus among the professionals was that paddle tennis is a great alternative for people who don’t want competition to get in the way of having fun. An added benefit is that it’s easy to learn, especially compared to traditional tennis.
“The learning curve is dramatically easier,” Fischl said. “You can become a very proficient player very quickly.”
All four of the professionals began their careers as tennis players. They all added paddle tennis to their repertoire after becoming hooked by the laid back attitude the sport offers, especially at the professional level.
“The first thing you do after you finish a tennis tournament is leave, you sulk and you go home,” Fischl said.
“When you finish a paddle tournament you grab a beer, you go hang out with your buddies and you watch—you’re one of the crew.”
Najdek quipped that the social aspect of platform tennis is even embodied in the paddle. Wilson, a popular paddle supplier, has started to install bottle openers in the base of the grips of their newer models.
Fischl enjoys the sport for more reasons than beer and friends. He said the reason he has traveled to many states to host clinics similar to UNC’s is to raise awareness.
“It’s 100 percent to raise awareness—it’s to get people interested in what the courts are about, to teach them how to play the game and teach them how to enjoy the game,” Fischl said.
“Give it a shot, it’s intoxicating.”