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Tracing the origins of Paddle Tennis

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The more oval version of the original paddle with holes added but no protective rim.
The more oval version of the original paddle with holes added but no protective rim.

For some time, Blanchard wondered whether or not he and Cogswell had been carrying on with a game invented many centuries before. The matter arose when Esquire magazine requested some information on the game and Blanchard sought the help of an eminent historian and Old Army Athlete by the name of C. Alison Scully. Source: Adapted from Fessenden S. Blanchard, Platform Paddle Tennis, 1959 In December 1935, Scully shared the bulk of his research in a letter to Blanchard as part of an article Blanchard was writing for Esquire. The origin of the game of paddle tennis is lost in the mists of antiquity. The recent widespread interest in the game has renewed the desire for certitude as to its beginnings and, as a result, much that is new and enlightening to the students of the history of the game has been developed. Recent discoveries on the Coast of Wales establish that a game,[...]

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NBC broadcast on platform paddle tennis

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Scarsdale Inquirer November 15 1935
Scarsdale Inquirer November 15 1935

The nationwide broadcast took place on November 21, 1935 at 6:15 pm in conjunction with WJZ- NY. The noted sportswriter John R. Tunis moderated the event which included the Old Army Athletes, Frederick. L. Allen, Fess Blanchard and Charles O'Hearn. In typical fashion some Old Army Athletes, in this case Peggy Brent and others, used the broadcast to tease Cogswell - see letter Radio Broadcast Transcript

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The appeal of the game

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“It is a splendid means of entertainment for all of those who have places large enough for a court and who are sociably inclined. But don't put up a platform if you are a social isolationist or want to enjoy complete peace and quiet, uninterrupted by the sounds of laughter and exclamations in many keys. For once you have a court and have invited your friends, you’ll find it hard to keep them away. “ Source: Fessenden S. Blanchard, Paddle Tennis, 1944

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Non-slip court surface developed

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The members of the Tremont Place Paddle Tennis Club of Orange, NJ, developed the textured court. Sprinkling beach sand into the freshly painted deck before the paint dried produced the non-skid surface. When properly applied, the sand prevented both players and balls from skidding in wet conditions. The surface also eliminated glare from the reflection of a bright sun. Source: Adapted from Fessenden S. Blanchard, Paddle Tennis, 1944 The APTA gave the following information to its members in its 1936 report: "An improved court surface has been developed at the Tremont Place court in Orange, thanks to the research of Richard Grant, Herbert Pease and others. This is accomplished by sprinkling about 40 pounds* of fine beach sand on the platform as it is painted and while the paint is wet. This gives a less slippery surface, enabling the court to be played upon even when slig[...]

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Profile of the game rises

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New York Sun, 1936
New York Sun, 1936

On January 25th, 1936 George Trevor (1892-1951), remembered as one of the best sports writers in the business, began an article on Platform Tennis as follows: Paddle Tennis Gains Place as Winter Sport Look! That's the answer to the riddle that has been puzzling the winter-bound business athlete for generations. It solves the problem of how to get outdoor exercise in a competitive game when snow covers the ground and the thermometer is down around the freezing mark. Incidentally, this new game will mean financial salvation for many a country club that needs an appealing winter pastime to bring in revenue during the dead months. Trevor gave his impressions of the exhibition match he had watched (Charley O'Hearn and Jim Hynson vs. Kip Couch and Ed Grafmueller): The writer was impressed by the rapid-fire tempo of the game and the skill of the players. Charley O'Hearn's cannon bal[...]

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National Championships – an epic Men’s final that remains the longest in APTA National Championships based on number of games played

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1936 Men’s Nationals drawsheet
1936 Men’s Nationals drawsheet

Harold D. Holmes and Richard G. Newell from Tremont Place Platform Tennis Club in New Jersey won the Men’s Championship in an epic match against the Fox Meadow Tennis Club team of Fessenden S. Blanchard and Earle Gatchell.Blanchard was devastated that a non-Scarsdale team had won a National title! Blanchard recalled the match in his 1944 book: "The Men’s final match still holds the APTA record for length and closeness. Both teams had already played in the quarters and semi-finals that same day. The referee made the finals the best of five sets, as opposed to the standard best of three. For the first time, a Platform Paddle Tennis championship went outside of Scarsdale, with Holmes and Newell winning the epic match: 3-6, 8-6, 4-6, 9-7, 15-13, a 77 game final, over Blanchard and Gatchell. Holmes and Newell had 13 match points before winning.” Historical Factoid: One of[...]

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Frank Beal, inventor of playground form of paddle tennis, visits Cogswell

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At left, Do Cogswell and Ruth Blanchard. Do Cogswell Deland went on to win two national championships with Hall of Fame inductee Susan Beck Wasch (1962 & 1966). At right, Alice Elazat and Estelle Suarez, New York City play-ground paddle tennis champions. Center, Frank Beal.
At left, Do Cogswell and Ruth Blanchard. Do Cogswell Deland went on to win two national championships with Hall of Fame inductee Susan Beck Wasch (1962 & 1966). At right, Alice Elazat and Estelle Suarez, New York City play-ground paddle tennis champions. Center, Frank Beal.

Frank Beal, the inventor in 1911 of the playground form of paddle tennis, visited the Cogswells in March 1936. He brought with him the winners of the New York City Junior Girls’ Championship, Alice Elazat and Estelle Suarez, who played Do Cogswell and Ruth Blanchard, winners of the Fox Meadow Tennis Club Championships. The home team won.

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APTA membership growing

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Arrangements regarding the 1936 Nationals. The entry fee was one dollar per person.
Arrangements regarding the 1936 Nationals. The entry fee was one dollar per person.

By the end of 1936, the APTA consisted of eight clubs: FMTC, Tremont Place Tennis Club, Manursing Island Tennis Club, Field Club of Greenwich, Ardsley Country Club, Bronxville Field Club, American Yacht Club, and the Amackassin Tennis Club. The Association began organizing exhibitions at various clubs: Orange Lawn Tennis Club, Wee Burn Club, Hartford Golf Club, Short Hills Club, and others. Source: Fessenden S. Blanchard, Platform Paddle Tennis, 1959

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APTA Report to Membership

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Report includes comments on Evans backstop and court surface improvement. APTA Report to Members,1936

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Media interest in the game grows

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Newsweek featured platform tennis in a March 21, 1937 article and on March 23, 1937, J.P. Allen proclaimed in the New York Sun: Davis Cup Panacea Offered. Blanchard Proposes Paddle Tennis to Balance California Supremacy in East

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