First APTA sanctioned tournament in Montana; Reilly showcases “The Lawn Level Court”

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Art Houilhan’s enthusiastic public relations campaign for the Grizzly Affair drew players from neighboring states and Canada. The tournament also officially introduced Reilly’s latest innovation: The Lawn Level Court.

The concept of the new court was to make it more attractive so it will fit appealingly into any setting. By excavating below the court for the pier and heater installation, the need to install the court three to four feet above ground on concrete piers would be eliminated. The court therefore sat at grade level, making it much easier to watch play.

Platform Tennis News covered the event in detail:

“In its constant quest to expand, the APTA can now add Montana to its list of states that host tournaments. Without a platform tradition, most Montana residents had no idea what platform tennis was. Thankfully the Grizzly Affair tournament’s enthusiastic public relations committee (a.k.a. Arthur Houlihan, previously from Waccabuc, NY) has changed that.

Free publicity rained on the tournament. Prior to the matches, articles appeared in several Montana newspapers with descriptions of the game, pictures of local players and details of the upcoming “Northwest Platform Tennis Championships” (a media appellation, not ours). The local radio station gave it a plug, and even the sign at the local bank, which normally flashes temperature and time, encouraged people to attend the big event.

As a result, the local participation and interest was high as ranchers, ski buffs, lumberjacks, artists, businessmen and country gentleman stopped by to take a look at the new sport. In addition to the enthusiastic local teams, players representing 15 states and Canada attended last year. Of course, the outstanding Nordic and alpine skiing at nearby Big Mountain ski area and Glacier National Park helped rope in paddle/ski enthusiasts. Others seemed to be attracted by a Ray Kinsella “if you build it” phenomenon.”

“There are currently four courts in Whitefish that were used for the tournament. The one that started it all is owned by Charlie Burkhart (originally from Philadelphia) and some of his neighbors. The Reilly clan has added three more with their new facility. Located where more snow falls than almost any other part of the country, the Reilly’s have an ideal testing ground for the new heating system specially engineered for this type of court’. Despite all the snow on the ground, the courts were clean and dry and remained so all winter long! “

Source: Platform Tennis News, Fall 1992