The YMCA of Talbot County recently upgraded its racquet sports facilities, just in time for the winter season. In addition to recent upgrades to the nine tennis courts behind the YMCA, including resurfacing, new fencing and expanded parking, the YMCA recently resurfaced the decks, replaced the superstructure and lighting of two outdoor platform tennis courts and repainted its two indoor racquetball courts.
Most people don’t think of playing outside racquet sports in the winter, but the YMCA facilities offer these opportunities both through tennis and platform tennis. According to the American Platform Tennis Association’s March 2008 newsletter, platform tennis began in 1928 in Scarsdale, NY. Two men in search of a winter racquet sport constructed a raised wooden platform about one half the size of a tennis court and surrounded the court with chicken wire fencing to keep the ball from going into the snow. The sport caught on at first in the North East states, becoming primarily a club sport in the early 1900s.
Platform tennis combines qualities of tennis, squash and racquetball. Bill Jones of Easton helped to renew local interest in the YMCA platform tennis program after moving here from Long Island, NY where he was president of the Long Island Platform Tennis Association and on the board of the American Platform Tennis Association. He states, “You play by most of the rules of tennis, except you can use the wire fencing to keep the ball in play.”
Today’s platform tennis court is one quarter of the size of a regular tennis court and uses 18 inch paddles and a spongy rubber ball. There is a 12-foot fence surrounding the court and lighting to allow for night play.
Jones adds, “It is a wonderful game for winter time. It is fast paced so when you come out in the cold, you warm up quickly.”
The YMCA has been offering free beginner clinics for platform tennis to its members. Diane Johnson, the tennis coordinator at the YMCA, comments, “It is a great social activity that also offers a good workout.”
In addition to platform tennis, the YMCA also offers instruction and free clinics in racquetball and squash, both indoor sports. Racquets and balls are provided by the YMCA. Racquetball is a fast moving sport with a small ball and small racquet. Currently, the YMCA has about 30 members in the winter racquetball league coordinated by Susan Claggett, a certified YMCA racquet sport instructor, and YMCA member Dick Bemis. While squash is a lesser-known sport, it perhaps offers the most cardiac benefits. Players keep their bodies low to the ground while playing with a thin, long racquet and small ball.
According to Claggett, “Whether you are a tennis player who wants to stay active in the winter or you want to get off the treadmill and try a new sport, all of the racquet sports at the YMCA offer you the opportunity to change up your exercise routine and we offer instruction for all of them.”
F. Graham Lee, Chief Development Officer of the YMCA, states, “The YMCA continues to raise funds toward its Capital Campaign goal of $5 million. Because of the $4 million pledged to date, we have been able to make these improvements to our racquet sport facilities.” Lee adds, “The renovation of our lobby is scheduled to open before the New Year, followed by the groundbreaking for our Teen and Family Center in early spring.”
For further information about the YMCA programs or about donating to the Capital Campaign, contact the YMCA of Talbot County at 410-822-0566.