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Platform Tennis And My Paddle People

The Peachtree Invitational was in town this weekend, the annual platform tennis championship that brings top American talent to Atlanta for fierce competition, hearty partying and many laughs under cold, wet and generally gray conditions.

Marking the 10th year anniversary of this local event, platform tennis, also nicknamed paddle, is  an 87-year old game played outdoors generally in the winter using a heavy yellow ball zipping around a wire-meshed wrapped mini-tennis court.  Better known in cold weather environs, paddle courts are springing up everywhere around here, including three new ones coming soon to the Bitsy Grant tennis center bringing the metro area court count to about 14.  Paddle requires a high degree of hand-eye coordination, good footwork and patience, and is generally made up of people with high proficiency in tennis, squash or racketball.  According to Peter Lauer, the founder of the Peachtree Paddle league and the man credited with bringing the sport south, paddle is the “chess of racquet sports”, and requires a lot of thinking, teamwork and an ability to dress in layers.

Your blogger participated in said event paired up by the tournament organizer with another Bob, a crafty paddle veteran now living and playing a lot of paddle in Florida of all places.  Despite some adequate and spirited play, “Team Bobbsey Twins” made an unceremonious first round exit losing a heart-breaking three-set match.  One of the nice things about a paddle tournament though, in addition to the morning-to-night, free flowing kegs, chili pots and warming huts, is if you lose in the first round, you go to a consolation round, and if you lose again, you get one more chance.  For the record, “Team Bobbsey Twins” did put one big W on the board but our off-court antic also gained us some notoriety.

You see the whole tournament is built around a big Saturday shindig, where the stories fly as freely as the drinks, and all of the participants and significant others gather to celebrate late into the night. My playing partner Bob who we put up at the house for the weekend (that’s what you do in paddle) went with me to the party at a fine Buckhead estate, the same one that hosted last year’s party.

Your blogger, having attended last year and being a bit of a know it all, knew exactly where to go without bothering to look at the house directions.   A left here, right there, and before you know it we were right where we were supposed to be.  And, right on cue, there were makeshift valet parking signs indicating that we had arrived.  Pleased that this paddle thing had really gone upscale by having valet parking this year, and happy to not have to walk in the rain, we pulled right into an exquisite driveway, the car was whisked away and we entered the vaguely familiar beautiful home already full.

We walked right in and everyone was so friendly and welcoming.   The bar was set up right in the front. people looked fit and healthy like a paddle crowd should, and most of the men were wearing jackets, as were we, which was the recommended dress of the evening.   We were encouraged to go into the other room for hors d’oeuvres and everything seemed just right with the world.

Except, of course, we were at the wrong party.

Now you have to admit that this realization would cause a bit of awkwardness.  The food looked great, the bar well stocked, the car safely valeted and over in the corner I saw some people I recognized, including Ted Turner’s daughter. What to do?

Feeling like the Wedding Crashers or the imposters that showed up at the White House, I decided to fessed up.  The lady who seemed in charge, laughed, said we should have a drink and not worry about it.   I gave that strong consideration, thought about asking for shots instead, but decided, first and foremost, we are paddle people and though we were very impressed by everything going on at Party number 2, we had a duty to go to Party number 1.

We slinked out out of the house, tipped the valet guys and headed out into the cold and wet night in search of our paddle tennis brethren.


3 Responses to Platform Tennis And My Paddle People

  1. John McClaugherty says:

    Your best blog ever. Did you wonder why you didn’t recognize any fellow players? Was your partner impressed with your knowledge of Atlanta?

  2. Is paddle ball also know as pickle ball? Pickle Ball has become quite big in Colorado.

  3. flonzcrafts says:


    Platform Tennis And My Paddle People

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