By Devin Rose
In order to increase participation in the winter sport that residents had been looking forward to about a year ago, the River Forest Park District board decided Monday that they will examine how surrounding communities run their platform tennis courts.
Commissioner Beth Potter Clarkson Dunne told the board she was "really disappointed about the numbers" of people who had so far signed up for platform tennis, a sport that is played from November to March. Executive Director Mike Sletten said more than 30 people had signed up, but the sport doesn't fully kick in until the middle of next month.
Still, Dunne said she thought there had been a lot of hype surrounding platform tennis that had now "fallen through the cracks a little bit." In August 2011, more than 100 families said they would be willing to pay the membership fee to play. But Dunne said many of the organizers at that time have since backed off. Fewer people also took lessons over the summer than she expected.
In platform tennis, also known as paddle tennis, players use paddles instead of racquets to hit the ball. The sport is played on elevated courts with heating systems built under the deck that allow snow and ice to melt. The sport has been discussed in River Forest for more than two years, and two newly-constructed courts opened at Keystone Park this past spring.
Dunne said she thought people were curious about the sport but might also be intimidated by it or not willing to pay the money for a membership. She suggested the board find a way to do more community outreach to build up excitement. Board Vice President Molly Hague suggested holding a tournament that allows current members to bring friends so more people can give it a try.
When asked by board President Tom Cargie, Sletten said he would give a summary at a future meeting about how other places were handling their platform tennis programs.
For more information about the platform tennis leagues or lessons, visit www.rfparks.com or call 708-366-6660.
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