going to be bleeding on the court. Lots of diving. We'll be
taking the fence in the teeth," Luke said.
tennis, meet the Jensens.
Luke (left) and Murphy Jensen bone up on their platform tennis
skills at the Beckett Ridge Country Club.
(Michael E. Keating photo)
The wacky brothers will play an exhibition platform match
Thursday at Beckett Ridge Country Club in West Chester, against
the nation's top-ranked platform team of Dave Ohlmuller and
Chris Gambino. The Jensens also will play in the Midwestern
Tournament, to be held Saturday and Sunday at eight platform
sites around town.
it's a publicity stunt. But the exhibition will be taped for
nationwide airing in April on The Tennis Channel, which spells
exposure for the little-known sport.
like a hidden gem," Ohlmuller said. "We're trying
to get it more mainstream and out of the country club set,
where unfortunately it's always been."
Gray, director of racket sports at Beckett Ridge, arranged
this event and draws a distant parallel to the 1973 Billie
Jean King-Bobby Riggs match.
think about what that did for women's tennis," Gray said.
"Hopefully this could catapult the sport."
is platform tennis?
outdoor winter game, with a court that's 20 by 44 feet - one-fourth
the size of a tennis court - laid out on a deck that's 30
by 60. It's elevated a few feet and surrounded by a 12-foot,
a slip-resistant surface, and many courts have heaters to
help melt accumulated snow. Matches can be played in light
rain or snow.
has a fiberglass face and a foam core. The ball, heavier and
slower than a tennis ball, can be played off the screens.
Scoring is identical to that in tennis, though there are no
second serves. It's played primarily as doubles.
tennis - called "paddle" by regulars - was invented
in 1928 in Scarsdale, N.Y., and exists only in America. It's
played mostly in cold-weather, metropolitan cities, with the
largest bases being the New York and Chicago suburbs. Bob
Considine, who produces the www.paddlepro.com Web site, said
there are between 40,000 and 50,000 players nationwide, and
Gray said about 700 of those live here.
game ebbs and flows," Considine said. "We're on
an upswing again. Probably the biggest period was in the '70s,
when NBC would cover the nationals."
cost nearly $50,000 to erect, so few exist for public use.
Of the nine platform clubs in Cincinnati, only one isn't a
country club: Queen City Racquet & Fitness Club, where
players can buy an annual platform membership for $347.75.
Gray said some locals are pushing for public courts to be
built at Lunken Playfield.
barrier to entry is pretty great," Considine said. "If
you have to join a country club just to try the sport out,
it's not going to grow."
played this game some while growing up in Michigan, and they
arrived here Tuesday for more practice time.
going to be smoked, of course," Luke Jensen said. "We
have a better chance of winning the Iowa caucuses. But we
don't want to go out and embarrass ourselves."
a 34-year-old from Long Island, has been ranked No. 1 for
six years. He and Gambino, a 34-year-old from Chicago, won
the 2001 and 2003 nationals together.