Is it truly possible to determine who the best platform tennis players were based on their records, or is it more realistic to ask the veterans who played through the late 70′s heyday and continue to compete today? No matter what criteria you use, the one name that always rises to the surface in women’s paddle is Robin Fulton.
Robin picked up her first wooden paddle in 1978 when her parents installed a court in their Darien. CT backyard. A year later, Robin began to take the game seriously, at The Paddle Center in Norwalk, under the careful watch of her friend and coach, Bob Callaway.
Before long, Robin had excelled in local women’s paddle and was competing at line one in the men’s league for the Stanford Yacht Club. Bob Callaway recalls, “I can remember Charlotte Lee, Linda Wolf, and the other top women in their prime times, however, no one could intimidate or dominate a match like Robin Fulton. The women today are much better and more consistent than they used to be and Robin is certainly the most athletic and skilled woman I’ve ever seen play the sport.”
Callaway added, “Robin Fulton was the first woman to aggressively blitz the net as part of her back-court strategy. This is certainly the signature move which Robin started and you see in other great players today like Sue Aery and Gerri Viant.”
Early on, Robin partnered with Linda Wolf and Pat Butterfield. Together, they accounted for five National Finals, including two National Championships.
In 1991, Robin began playing with Diane Tucker. Together, Robin and Diane achieved Hall-of-Fame quality results. Diane recalls, “Robin told me that she never played more than one season with the same partner, however, we had so much fun on and off the court that the one season lasted six.” Over the six years they played, they reached the Women’s Open National Finals each year and earned four titles along the way. After the 1997 finals in Pittsburgh, Diane retired from paddle to pursue business opportunities. Robin began playing with Sarah Krieger and had exceptional results, but no additional National Titles. This season, Robin has partnered with Cindy Prendergast. She plans another run for the National Women’s Open Title in 2002.
To break down Robin’s paddle accomplishments in a nutshell, she reached the Women’s Open finals 12 times over 18 years, winning with four different partners. In addition, since Robin turned 40 in 1997, she has reached the 40+ finals each year (with three different partners). Finally, in Mixed play, Robin has reached the finals 11 times over a 16-year stretch, accumulating an additional four National Titles along the way.
Today, Robin resides and instructs tennis in Hilton Head, South Carolina. Her husband, Bob, is a professional golf instructor and an accomplished platform tennis player. Robin’s daughter, Chris, attends prep school and her son, Tom, is currently attending college.
Is it truly possible to determine who the best platform tennis players were based on their records, or is it more realistic to ask the veterans who played through the late 70′s heyday and continue to compete today? No matter what criteria you use, the one name that always rises to the surface in women’s paddle is Robin Rich Fulton.