Friday, June 12, 2009

Paddle This

The first paddle tennis racket was constructed in the quaint village of Sleepy Hollow, N.Y.

Generations later, paddles are taking on a new use as the world of sports continues to evolve.

Paddles have recently been incorporated into the Beach Tennis USA landscape.

The new addition has proved proficient for Beach Tennis players and athletes drinking in the growing sand sport.

"It's a lot more comfortable, the handle," said Mike Lopez, who recently competed in the amateur paddle tournament down at Virginia Beach, Va.

Lopez got acclimated to playing with the paddle. He concluded the paddle to be more tailor-made for his game, giving him better control and some pin-point precision. Those aspects of his game were in dire need of being finely-tuned.

Playing with a regular tennis racket, Lopez--who does not have a tennis background--was wild.

His serves were comparable to home runs, sailing out of bounds and instigating a chorus of "heads up!" cries. On hustle plays during which he tried to save the ball from hitting the sand, he ended up blasting the ball into a different area code.

"I don't think I speak for everyone but when I first played Beach Tennis with a regular racket, I had a problem of hitting the ball like I would if I was playing tennis on gravel," explained Lopez.

"I had to make an adjustment. In the end, it definitely attracted me to the sport of beach tennis. It's smooth. I used to have a table tennis set up in my basement. We would compete for hours and hours. Now this has developed. It gives me something to do while I'm on the beach chilling. You can probably tell I'm not a volleyball player."

The paddles, which have helped smooth over the gaps in Lopez' game, have been installed in the grassroots leagues as well.

"One of the main benefits (of the paddles) are they appeal to a larger audience," said Beach Tennis USA's Dan Weinberg.

"It doesn't just appeal to tennis players. It appeals to athletes who have never played tennis or the average person sitting on the beach looking for an activity to engage in."

Intrigued at the idea of competing in Beach Tennis USA amateur tournaments in some of the country's most scenic beaches? For FREE, I might add?

Beach Tennis USA's national road swing continues in San Diego June 19-21 and features a stop in Southern California's city of Long Beach.

I don't know if Snoop Dogg, perhaps the most celebrated native of Long Beach, plays Beach Tennis. He'd probably be Fonzi-cool under pressure, though!