Gary Horvath is a USPTA master pro, founder and past president of the USA Professional Platform Tennis Association, charter member of PPTR, a certified coach with USA Volleyball and a long-standing member of the Wilson Advisory Staff.
His experience as a tennis pro has covered the entire spectrum from grassroots to college tennis. In addition, Gary Horvath has conducted extensive business and economic research that has largely supported the state of Colorado's economic development efforts.
THE OTHER RACQUET SPORT - PLATFORM TENNIS
If you are not a platform tennis player (or teacher), give it a try! It is similar to tennis, easy to pick up, and challenging to master. The sport ranks high on the social and fun scale.
By Gary Horvath
For the past year, pickleball, padel, platform tennis, and tennis have built on the success that began when COVID-related policies caused people to be attracted to outdoor racquet sports. This brief discussion will highlight the achievements of the APTA, PPTR, and platform tennis community over the past season.
Platform tennis was founded in Scarsdale, New York, by James Cogswell and Fessenden Blanchard as an outdoor winter replacement for tennis. They invented it in 1928 but made revisions in subsequent years.
Most courts are constructed with aluminum because the prime platform tennis season is September through April. An abrasive surface provides traction when the courts are wet, and heaters are placed underneath the courts to help melt snow and ice.
There are approximately 1,700 courts in 30 states and eastern Canada. About 75% of the courts are in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Massachusetts.
Slightly more than half of the facilities have between three and eight courts. Having at least three adjacent courts is essential for hosting leagues and tournaments. Finally, the majority of courts are at private clubs.
The bottom line is that platform tennis courts are a precious commodity.
National Governing Body (NGB)
The American Platform Tennis Association (APTA) was founded in 1934 to oversee the national championships and serve as the NGB. The APTA maintains the rules and codes of behavior for the sport and sanctions leagues and tournaments.
Every May, the APTA holds its annual meeting and provides a separate Zoom review of the season that just ended. The accomplishments of the 2022-2023 season follow.
The APTA membership increased to 31,887 members, an increase of 10.4%. Membership was more than twice the size of the 2016 membership.
There were 272 APTA-sanctioned tournaments with 443 different draws. The events were covered on APTA Live Scoring or Paddlescores, making it possible to follow the results of the events in real-time.
About one-fourth of members played in at least one of these tournaments.
The APTA Team Nationals had record participation at the events in New Jersey and Chicago. There were 410 women and 350 men participants.
The Husband/Wife Nationals and Mixed Nationals had 64 and 60 teams, respectively. There were more teams than in previous years.
The APTA Junior Nationals featured 184 juniors from across the country plus Canada.
The APTA Tour held 14 events and raised $150,000 in prize money at the tournament level. The prize money is up 90% from the 2021-2022 season.
The PTI is the APTA's equivalent of UTR ratings. This season, about 650 players participated in 15 PTI National events.
Since 2019, 18 projects have received $540,000 from the APTA to support the construction and rehabilitation of 32 courts.
This list of accomplishments is impressive, considering that the APTA has a small staff, a budget of only $1.2 million, and a host of devoted volunteers.
Additional details from the APTA presentation are at the following link http://www.platformtennis.org/news/Hot_Off_the_Wires/APTA_Board_of_Directors_Meeting_Recap.htm.
The sport is fortunate to have a body of teaching professionals certified by the PPTR, PPTA, and USPTA. They create the magic that attracts and retains players.
In July 2020, the APTA announced that the Professional Platform Tennis Registry (PPTR) (https://pptrplatformtennis.org/) was its official education and certification partner.
In that capacity, the PPTR has hosted 15-20 certifications or workshops throughout the year, including the summer season. It has worked closely with the APTA to promote the sport on social media. PPTR encourages professionals to become Dynamic Duos or Triple Threats by teaching multiple racquet sports. Since its inception in 2020, the PPTR has gone from zero to about 400 certified members.
The APTA, PPTR, and platform tennis community have a strong presence on Facebook and Instagram. The APTA announces its events and activities, and the PPTR promotes its workshops and certifications. On Instagram, clubs and player groups highlight local activities. Top players share tips, match photos, the history of the sport, and snippets from their daily lives. Then there are the groupies who provide comic relief surrounding the sport.
Like all sports, the APTA and platform tennis industry face challenges. Areas of concern follow:
It has been a challenge for the APTA to increase platform tennis participation, i.e., the sport has not experienced the rapid growth of pickleball (That may be a good thing). Typically, the sport has grown as players have taken it with them when they have moved out of the Northeast.
There are a small number of court builders, and the rising cost of aluminum has drastically increased the price of courts.
There is a small percentage of courts at public facilities.
The are fears that competition from alternate racquet sports will be bad for platform tennis. Generally speaking, the increased popularity of pickleball and padel has made more people aware of platform tennis.
If you are not a platform tennis player, give it a try! It is similar to tennis, easy to pick up, and challenging to master. The sport ranks high on the social and fun scale.
If you are a tennis teaching professional, consider teaching other racquet sports. In the end, it will improve your skills as a tennis professional.
See you on the courts!
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