Player Profiles: Terry Miller and Jane McNitt

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Terry Miller was born in New York City 38 years ago. After tremendous success on the local junior tennis circuit, Terry jumped on the professional tour at the ripe old age of 16.

From 1983 to 1991, Terry competed with and defeated the top female tennis players in the world. Over this time period she reached the quarter-finals of the French Open, Wimbledon and US Open Grand Slam events. At one point, Terry was ranked 14th in the world.

After leaving the tour, Terry moved to Winnetka, Illinois, and became a tennis teaching professional. In 1993, she was introduced to her future platform tennis doubles partner, Jane McNitt. “I met Jane when I was teaching tennis at Indian Hill Club in Winnetka. We were then re-connected last fall when we played together at the exhibition opening of the new paddle hut at the Winnetka Park District.”

Terry spoke about her new-found favorite sport, “I started playing platform tennis two years ago as it is very popular in Chicago. The Winnetka Park District has a fantastic center just minutes from my house which made it very accessible. I also joined Bath and Tennis Club in Lake Bluff and began working with the pro, Ray Murphy.” She added, “I haven’t been playing for long, but I believe my tennis background has given me a strong foundation. I’ve really enjoyed getting involved in platform tennis. It is such a great way to get outdoor exercise in the winter, and it is so popular in Chicago.”

A racquet sports sensation, Terry compared the crossover skills from tennis to platform tennis and squash. She said, “As opposed to squash, I think tennis and platform tennis are highly compatible. I like the fact that I basically use the same strokes for both sports. However, platform tennis is somewhat more challenging than doubles in tennis as you’re only allowed one serve, of course, and the correct positioning is crucial in platform tennis.

When asked about the camaraderie differences from tennis to platform tennis she said, “Platform tennis is much more social than tennis doubles, and it is also a better workout as points can often last 40-50 shots. Also, we have an incredible league in Chicago, so each week we’re playing top players that we would also be facing at the Charities or other national events. That’s a great way to stay match tough,”

To come as far in platform tennis as she has over the past two years, Terry has relied on hard work, training, and studying the sport. “I drill regularly with Ray Murphy at Bath and Tennis…he has helped me tremendously.” She added, “Those new to the game should enroll in as many clinics and play as many league matches as possible. And, of course, there is nothing better than taking private lessons with a good pro.” When asked if her reading carries over to PTM, Terry answered, “Yes, I enjoy reading the articles in Platform Tennis Magazine…especially those that focus on court positioning. I also like to read the player bias to learn what motivated them to start playing platform tennis.” Commenting on future goals and plans, Terry stated, “Jane and I were so excited to win the Chicago Charities this year. Of course, it would be great to win another big tournament. As the tournaments keep getting tougher with a deeper field of talent, it will become increasingly difficult to win a major tournament; however, that is what makes platform tennis so fun and challenging”

Growing up in Pittsburgh, Jane McNitt enjoyed all sports. Early on, she was an accomplished swimmer and golfer but decided to try out for the tennis team in her junior year of high school because it looked like more fun. She recalled, “My dad encouraged me to play tennis because he said it was something I could play all my life. It was a great decision!” In the mid 70s, platform tennis was a more recognized recreational sport. Jane said, “We used to play paddle in high school with a bunch of kids just for fun. My first paddle was the ‘wooden board’ by Marcraft. I still have it.”

After graduating from Penn State, Jane went to work for Mellon Bank in Pittsburgh. She moved to Chicago in 1988 with Mellon where she met a great group of paddle players – most notable was Peter McNitt. “Peter and his brother Jim were a top nationally ranked team for many years,” Jane said. She added, “They were instrumental in teaching me the game and have been very supportive all along the way.” Over the years, Jane has been ranked as high as 5th nationally several times and has won tournaments in Indianapolis, Milwaukee, and Cincinnati as well as the Mixed and Women’s Illinois State tournaments, but winning the Charities in November was the biggest win of her tenured paddle career.

Reflecting back, Jane said, “I have had a lot of terrific paddle partners over the years and I’ve learned something from each of them.” She added, “I really enjoy playing with Terry because she is a very positive and supportive partner. She is also a great competitor.”

Discussing changes to the sport, Jane said, “Paddle has changed so much over the last ten years. There are more players, new programs for kids, better technology and a magazine that is a great source of info and updates. I feel lucky to be involved in paddle at this point in history.” Jane added, “Paddle is a great game! I have met so many long time friends through paddle. In fact, as much as I enjoy the exercise and competition, the camaraderie is unparalleled.” Jane closed the interview with her hopes and goals, ” I will play paddle as long as I can. Paddle is one great way to get through the cold Chicago winters! Would I like to win some more big tournaments? Sure, but more importantly, I look forward to meeting some more great people along the way!”

Source: Platform Tennis Magazine, Vol. 7, Issue 3, January, 2006