The game goes to Sweden

Tom Rodgers at Eastern Mountain Platform Tennis built the first court in Stockholm, Sweden in the Fall of 1988. Rick Williams and Fritz Odenbach helped promote the game by conducting an exhibition and clinics.

Rick Williams reported on the experience in the Mid-Winter edition of Platform Tennis News:

“Our host was Jan Stenbeck who is an enthusiastic player now residing on Long Island but still cultivating many strong Swedish ties. Located on city property near a public tennis/sport facility and in the shadow of the 1912 summer Olympic stadium in Stockholm, the public exposure is tremendous. This could be the beginning of a paddle tennis explosion in Sweden.

The climate is perfect for paddle with an average winter temperature a touch below freezing, short days with a long season and the Swedish passion for outdoor sports. It is a natural. A wonderful gentleman named Per Tornell was our host, organizer and guide during our week-long stay. Per is an enthusiastic player, thus making him currently one of Sweden’s finest. An exhibition was organized complete with incredible food prepared by Master Chef Erik. The shrimp and caviar finger sandwiches were very tasty.

During the week, interested people stopped to watch our play as clinics and pointers were given. This culminated at the exhibition where the crowds chanted for the USA vs. Sweden. Our opponents were Ola Hallgren and Dan Rastland, both previously A TP touring pros. Ola and Dan played on the NCAA tennis circuit with University of Utah and Rice University, respectively. Both are very accomplished tennis pros and players, and after a few go rounds, paddle players as well.

The exhibition took place in the pouring rain; fortunately the crowed was protected by a large tent. With television cameras rolling, the play began. The crowd was tough and the friendly cheering and jeering added to the flavor. I asked Fritz if he knew any good jokes. We tried to work the crowd, but now we know how Rodney D. feels. No respect. The first set went to the U.S. 6-2 and the second set battled to 5-5 before the U.S. prevailed 7-5. Hence the Swedish National Champions.

We realized that based on the skills and ability to pick up the game very quickly, the Swedes were naturals. Given a year’s time Dan and Ola could compete against anyone in the game. The cultural exchange and friendships made were fantastic and in keeping with the spirit of platform tennis. Fritz and I would like to thank all those involved in this exchange and hope that this sport will continue to grow internationally. Most of all, we’d like to thank Tom Rogers and Jan Stenbeck for this opportunity to give something back to the sport that has given us all so much.”

Source: Platform Tennis News, Mid-Winter 1989