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New York Times covers Men’s Nationals

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The New York Times, March 14, 1955
The New York Times, March 14, 1955

The article covered the coming of age of the game when the APTA's 21st birthday was marked by the Men's Nationals at Fox Meadow, and described the hard-fought finals between Hebard and Carlisle, the winners, and Moses and Deland. Source: The New York Times, March 14, 1955

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National Championships

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Carlisle and Hebard, the finalists in 1954, prevailed in a close match against Moses and Deland. Elfie Carroll collected her second Women's title with Louise Ganzenmueller (their first win had been in 1950 and they were finalists in 1952 and 1953). John Moses sweetened his loss in the Men's by winning the Mixed with Fritzi Smith over the very strong team of Madge Beck and Dick Hebard. Source: Fessenden S. Blanchard, Platform Paddle Tennis, 1959

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World Tennis Magazine covers Nationals

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The Platform Tennis Championships
The Platform Tennis Championships

The article included some excellent pictures of players and galleries taken during the national doubles championships at Fox Meadow in Scarsdale. Source: World Tennis, April 1956

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APTA focuses on foot-faults

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For a number of years, the APTA had closed their eyes to the common issue of repeated foot faults, figuring that it might lessen the fun if they kept calling them. However, the Association began cracking down on them in championship tournaments, appointing foot-fault judges for final and semifinal matches. Formal rules were introduced for the Men’s Championships in 1958. Source: Adapted from Fessenden S. Blanchard, Platform Paddle Tennis, 1959

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Rules on balls established

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APTA started prescribing rules for use and specification of balls. Ball Specification: The APTA furnished sponge rubber balls, approximately 2.5" in diameter. The Ball Use Rule: In tournaments, only one ball could be used continuously during each set. The server could not substitute another ball during an unfinished set without the permission of the tournament officials, nor could the server hold another ball when serving.

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Paddle’s unofficial uniform

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Coonskin coats are the “unofficial” uniform. Left to Right: Jim Gordon and Bill Cooper (1959 champions), Jim Carlisle and Dick Hebard (1959 finalists), Waler Close and umpire Jack Whitbeck
Coonskin coats are the “unofficial” uniform. Left to Right: Jim Gordon and Bill Cooper (1959 champions), Jim Carlisle and Dick Hebard (1959 finalists), Waler Close and umpire Jack Whitbeck

There was no standard or official uniform for paddle players, except maybe in overcoats. Coonskin coats seemed to be the mark of the well-dressed player, except when he was actually playing. A few of the younger players began turning up with coonskin coats, for which they paid $25 to downtown furriers. When Blanchard went to one of the furriers to get a coat for himself, he was greeted with these remarks: "I have been storing these coonskin coats for years but never had a nibble. But now I am almost sold out. Some people out in Westchester have a game that they play outdoors all winter. They've been coming in here and have gobbled up almost all I have” Source: Fessenden S. Blanchard, Platform Paddle Tennis, 1959

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APTA experiments with court dimensions

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There had been several suggestions that the length of the court (not the platform) should be increased in order to make it possible to lob more effectively over the heads of opponents and introduce a greater variety of offensive play. By lengthening the court, possibly two feet at each end, the idea was to make it easier to break up long rallies, where poor overheads and short lobs off the backstop were used. The APTA asked Fox Meadow Tennis Club and Orange Lawn Tennis Club to conduct some experiments. Temporary lines were drawn on one court at each club, making the length of he court 48 feet instead of 44 feet, leaving 6 feet at each end past the backline. With reliable backstops, returning deep drives would not be extremely difficult. A number of matches used the longer courts. The majority of the players preferred to leave the measurements as they were. Players felt that the lon[...]

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National Championships

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The awards presentation at the 1956 Men’s Nationals (from left): George Harrison, Bill Pardoe, Ted Cook (APTA president and tournament chair), Don McNeill, and Herman Schaefer
The awards presentation at the 1956 Men’s Nationals (from left): George Harrison, Bill Pardoe, Ted Cook (APTA president and tournament chair), Don McNeill, and Herman Schaefer

In the Men's Harrison and Pardoe won their first of their two titles. Sally Childress Auxford teamed up with Barbara Koegel and got the best of her sister, Madge Beck, and her partner, Blanchard's daughter, Ruth Walker. The Mixed was a repeat of the 1955 final but this time Hebard and Madge Beck won. Source: Fessenden S. Blanchard, Platform Paddle Tennis, 1959

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James M. Carlisle elected APTA President (1957-1959)

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James M. Carlisle
James M. Carlisle

Carlisle had served as APTA Secretary the previous two years. He was a multiple Nationals winner and the only one to use an underhand serve. Carlisle received the APTA Honor Award in 1966.

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National Championships and inaugural Men’s Senior (45+). NBC broadcasted commentary on Men’s Nationals

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Don McNeill and Rob Carlisle taped an on-the-spot Men's Nationals commentary from Fox Meadow Tennis Club which was later broadcast over NBC's "Monitor" program The Nationals now included a Men’s senior event, the 45 or over (this was changed to 50+ in 1965 as too many 45+ players were still very competitive in the Men's). Fittingly the new APTA President James Carlisle won the inaugural Men's Senior with partner Berkeley Johnson, and was a finalist in the Mixed. The Women’s final pitted two-time champion Louise Ganzenmueller against her sister-in-law Louise Raymond. The sister-in-law won. Source: Fessenden S. Blanchard, Platform Paddle Tennis, 1959, and Paddle World Feb/Mar 1979

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