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Midwesterns 2004 in Cincinnati Enquirer
Midwesterns 2004 in Cincinnati Enquirer

Cincinnati, Oh
The both the Cincinnati Enquirer
and the Kentucky Journal have an article about the Midwesterns 2004 with the exhibition match between the Jensen brothers against David Ohlmuller and Chris Gambino. The article goes in depth about some specifics and history of platform tennis as well. To view the article, please click here to see the article on the Cincinnati Enquirer's website or click here to view other various press information about the Midwesterns 2004. The photo comes courtesty of the Cincinnati Enquirer and photographer Michael E. Keating.

article by Neil Schmidt
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Jensens hoping to elevate platform tennis
ATP fan favorites will take on sport's top team at Beckett Ridge

It's not Stade Roland Garros or Wimbledon's Centre Court. But when Luke and Murphy Jensen play here on a tiny court with a chicken-wire fence - outdoors, at night ... in January - their act will be as high-energy as ever.

"We're going to be bleeding on the court. Lots of diving. We'll be taking the fence in the teeth," Luke said.


Platform tennis, meet the Jensens.

Midwesterns 2004 in Cincinnati Enquirer
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.

Yeah, 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.

"It's 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."

Jason 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.

"You think about what that did for women's tennis," Gray said. "Hopefully this could catapult the sport."

OK. What is platform tennis?

It's an 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, wire-mesh fence.

There's a slip-resistant surface, and many courts have heaters to help melt accumulated snow. Matches can be played in light rain or snow.

The paddle 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.

Platform 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.

"The 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."

Courts 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.

"The 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."

The Jensens played this game some while growing up in Michigan, and they arrived here Tuesday for more practice time.

"We're 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."

Ohlmuller, 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.

Jensen weekend


• Platform tennis exhibition vs. Dave Ohlmuller and Chris Gambino, 6:30 p.m. at Beckett Ridge Country Club. Admission: $10 adults, $5 club members and kids under 18. Call 513-874-9909.


Tennis clinics (3-6 p.m., youth levels; 7-8:30, adults), exhibition against Cedric Kauffmann and Matt Poulos (6-7) and dinner (8:30-10) at Five Seasons Country Club in Crestview Hills, Ky. Exhibition is free. To sign up for clinics or dinner, call 859-341-8201 by Thursday.


• Competing in Midwestern Tournament at sites TBA. For information on Jensen matches, call 513-874-9909 or visit www.cincypaddle.org. Finals begin about 1 p.m. Sunday at Camargo Country Club.

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