It’s not Ping-Pong. It’s not Platform Tennis. It’s not Paddleball or Beach Paddle or even something called Padel. Paddle Tennis is its own game and has been around since 1898, invented in Michigan by a man named Frank Peer Beal. (Read a full history here.)
Paddle Tennis is a blast and in these hot sunny summer days, if you love tennis, you might find yourself stymied by full courts and long wait times to play. However, if you shift your game a tiny bit, you can find wide open (and best of all: FREE) Paddle Tennis courts all over LA. And all those half dead tennis balls you have lying around? They are required for Paddle Tennis. Look at you — recycling while you play. (Your dogs may be upset while they wait for their shot at the deflated balls, however.)
If you are already playing tennis at public courts, you may have seen the smaller Paddle Tennis courts alongside the regular courts. If not, here is a map for just some of the public courts available. The map does not include my current favorite court in Culver City: Culver West Park, just south of Washington on Wade or Moore streets. (The park itself is a little gem with a big jungle gym for the kids, a huge lawn (used to be a baseball diamond) a dog walk track, 1 tennis court, 2 paddle tennis courts, and 2 handball courts, plus restrooms and an indoor community room.)
Venice is a hot spot for Paddle Tennis and the home of Power Paddle, the last all wood paddles on the market (seen above). Brian Lee is the owner of the company and former five time paddle tennis champion, taking over from his father who started making the paddles to improve his own game. (Full disclosure, my husband I use Power Paddles, though I didn’t realize they were locally made by Mr. Lee when I started writing this article!)
Paddle Tennis is great sports for kids to learn with the smaller courts and paddles. And since you only need a paddle, a few balls and a willing partner, it doesn’t have to be expensive to start. Give it a try! If you need a partner, I’m an amateur, but I can give good rally.
For full rules, info and player rankings, visit the US Paddle Tennis Association.
(Oh and if you think the smaller court and deflated balls make this some kind of rinky-dink retired granny sport, watch this video.)
Go out and play!