Construction on a new sports complex is underway right here in Cleveland. The facility is for everyone, but it is built for a sport not many have tried.
“We find the flats to be an ideal location to put this facilty,” said Sean Richardson, is Board Chair of the Cleveland Platform Tennis Foundation.
And that “facility” is the Flats Platform Tennis Center.
Platform or “paddle tennis” was invented back in 1928 and is played on a smaller, raised court, enclosed in a wire cage.
Singles or doubles can team up, keeping score just as you would in tennis.
“It is to grow the game that we all love and make it more accessible to more potential players,” Richardson said of the mission behind the center.
The Platform Tennis Foundation hopes to double the estimated 800 local players by building closer to downtown — right next to Merwin’s Wharf, towpath and on the grounds of the Cleveland Rowing Foundation.
The center will have four outdoor courts for public use.
Platform tennis courts are scarce – especially those open to everyone.
“Anybody with any kind of racket background comes very naturally to the game. They become addicted like the rest of us are,” said Richardson.
And Platform Tennis is an all-weather sport, with a heating element underneath the court floor to keep the playing surface warm. A warming hut will also help with some of those colder months.
Because we are moving around, so much, you stay warm when it is 15 or 20 degrees out,” said Richardson.
That warming center will serve another purpose too.
It will double as a classroom for the foundation’s mentoring program — exposing middle and high school students to the game, along with coaching and life skills.
An opening date for the center is expected sometime this fall.