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Field Club hosts platform tennis competition

LONGMEADOW The Field Club of Longmeadow is hosting the Western New England Open in platform tennis on Saturday, Feb. 11. The event is open to all (to play or watch), will start around 9 a.m., and be played all in one day.

What is platform tennis?

Platform tennis is a cold-weather racquet sport played outside, regardless of the conditions, on a raised platform about 5 feet off the ground. On the platform is a miniature version of a tennis court (1/4 the size), and includes surrounding wires (also called screens) 15 feet (or so) high on the edges of the platform, used to keep the ball on the platform.

In serving, a member of one team of two players uses a small racquet to hit a special, compressed and firm, colored ball (not a tennis ball) over the net and into the court of the opposing team of two players, and the game is played and scored like tennis. A player may hit the ball off of the wires, almost always on his/her side of the net, providing the ball has bounced once into his/her court first.

In platform tennis, observers will see players both hitting and playing the ball off of wires, giving an added element of strategy to the game.

The American Platform Tennis Association (APTA) sanctions tournaments throughout six regions.

Most of New England (all except Fairfield County, CT) is in Region 2. Tournaments are either "A" events, like the Western New England Open, or "B" events, which are for less proficient players.

The four or five "A" events are known as President's Cup Qualifiers.

Players in the region earn points in the tournaments, based on how far they get in each tournament, to qualify for the region's President Cup team.

This team plays in a national team event, which takes place on the Friday before the National Championships (equivalent to platform tennis' version of the US Open).

"As the last of the region's five tournaments this is the last chance to earn President Cup points for the year, so we expect a strong turnout," said Tournament chairman Dave Fuller.

"We expect a mix of local players and most of the top players from New England, which include some players who are ranked nationally. Matches from the quarterfinals on are usually close and competitive."