Winter games: Platform tennis reigns during winter at Signal Point Club

Published 6:51 am Friday, February 27, 2004

By By DAN WEISS / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Tennis in the winter? Well, sort of.
About 25-30 people get together throughout the week at Signal Point Club to play a game called platform tennis during the winter months of October through April.
Raster and Roger Hargreaves, affectionately referred to as some of the founding fathers of platform tennis at Signal Point, began playing the game in the 1970s.
The platform tennis court is much like a normal tennis court, only smaller. It is made of slabs which are coated with crushed walnut shells, to prevent slipping. Underneath the court are gas heat blowers which keep the court dry, even during snowfall.
The equipment used resembles racquetball more than tennis, with a wooden paddle and a hard foam ball.
Every Monday and Wednesday night between Oct. 1 and April 30, men play platform tennis, or paddle, as the players call it for short. Monday nights are more competitive, with a regular group of eight players sharing the two courts. Wednesday nights are informal, with some of the same players but also some guests. There are women's leagues on Wednesday and Thursday mornings.
The heat from underneath the court is not enough to keep players warm, but there is a heated room off the end of the courts where players warm up between sets.
The only time weather delays games is when the courts have ice built up and players have to wait for the heaters to melt the ice.
Platform tennis is scored just like tennis. The are a couple exceptions to the tennis rules, one being that players are allowed only one serve and a serve that touches the net but lands in the serving area is playable. Another exception is that the ball may be played off the screens surrounding the court, much like racquetball.
The Signal Point players play mainly doubles matches, but sometimes play Canadian doubles for practice. In Canadian doubles, one player takes on two, but the doubles team must keep the ball within the singles lines and the single player gets to use the doubles lines.