New members continue growth of Hinsdale platform tennis
Holly Tritt of Western Springs, an instructor for the Hinsdale Paddle program at Katherine Legge Memorial Park, says many tennis players take up platform tennis, but they still have to learn how to play the ball off the fence. | Jerry Daliege—for Sun-Tim
Learn to play
Hinsdale’s Parks and Recration Dept. offers platform tennis lessons for beginners, starting Jan. 13 or Feb. 24.
For more information, look at the website www.HPDpaddle.com or call Mary Doten, the program director, at (708) 261-5779, or email her at email@example.com
Updated: February 18, 2013 1:15AM
HINSDALE — Platform tennis is a rare sport.
It can be played outdoors all winter, but does not require snow or ice. In fact, heaters below the courts melt the snow and ice.
It’s also much easier to learn than other sports, said Bill O’Brien, president of the Hinsdale Platform Tennis Association.
“The very first day you feel like you can play this game.” And “because the court is small, you don’t have to be in terrific shape.”
This season he introduced 30 men, ages 28 to 65, to platform, or paddle, tennis which is played on caged-in courts about a quarter of the size of a regular tennis court.
O’Brien was advocating for the sport more than 20 years ago, when Hinsdale had no public courts. Two Hinsdale couples paid for the first courts, built in Burns Field in 1990.
“It took 10 years to get people to come and play,” said O’Brien, who lives in Burr Ridge after 22 years in Hinsdale. Players had to go elsewhere for competition.
“We had to go to the North Shore or Chicago for every single match we played,” O’Brien said.
The Hinsdale Platform Tennis Association formed and sold memberships in 2003 to raise money to help pay for the building of four courts and a warming hut in Katherine Legge Memorial Park.
Participation grew to the point that two more courts were added in 2011, to the disappointment of some Burr Ridge residents who live just east of the courts. The neighbors protested the noise and lights for night play disturbed them. Hinsdale agreed to turn the lights off by 10:30 p.m.
“As long as the rules are followed, I think the residents are resigned to the fact that the courts are there,” said Burr Ridge Village Administrator Steven Stricker.
He has not received any calls of complaint from Burr Ridge residents since the new courts were built.
League play is scheduled at KLM, so the paddle courts in Burns Field will be available for more casual players.
The association has 335 lifetime members, more than double the 153 in 2010. Lifetime memberships cost $1,500 for residents and $2,500 for non-residents. There are also 132 individual members, 60 of which are non-residents; and 50 family memberships, including 13 families who live outside Hinsdale.
Memberships are not a definitive measure of growth, O’Brien said, because many people learn the game through the Hinsdale program and then go on to join private clubs, such as the Hinsdale Golf Club or Salt Creek Club, which increased the number of their platform courts.
The Clarendon Hills Park District is considering adding platform courts to its facilities, too.
“That would be great,” said O’Brien, who wants as many people as possible to enjoy paddle tennis. “We want them all to get to know each other and have one large platform tennis community.