The long, storied sea life history, charming restaurants and shops, and beautiful beaches make Nantucket worth visiting. But did you also know that Nantucket boasts a racquet sports scene featuring platform tennis and pickleball?
Before we get there, it’s important to know more about these games. One thing platform tennis and pickleball have in common is that they require keen eye-to-hand coordination. Since they are highly social games, they are usually played by two participants.
The racquet sports scene in Nantucket has seen massive growth since platform tennis and pickleball were introduced. Learn more about its evolution and the difference between the two games below:
Platform Tennis Vs. Pickleball: An Overview
Though platform tennis and pickleball are very similar, they are different games. In particular, pickleball is a more tactical and faster game, thus rooted in using tactics better than platform tennis.
Both games are a fun way to exercise the brain and cardiovascular system. They involve a lot of physical movement, which is good for the heart, and mental energy, which is good for the brain.
Sports that challenge the body and brain have a greater positive impact. Racquet sports like platform tennis and pickleball combine mental precision, flexibility, strength building, and aerobic activity. Even more, they bring people together and are perfect for all age groups.
A Brief History of Platform Tennis in Nantucket
The Nantucket Platform Tennis Association (NPTA) is credited for introducing platform tennis in Nantucket. It manages a facility down Macy’s Lane, where you can get involved with the game. NPTA is committed to seeing this sport transform Nantucket’s entire sports community.
It all began in 1975 when Sandy Craig sought a fun activity in Nantucket during winter. While he needed to figure out what to do, he was ambitious about indulging in something that benefits both the mind and the body.
At that time, Craig knew Island Lumber’s owner, Charlie Fisher, had a big piece of land. He asked Fisher for permission to use a part of this land to construct a platform tennis court. Nantucket Platform Tennis resulted from Craig’s determination to set up the court on Fisher’s land after gaining approval.
The first Nantucket platform tennis court had close to 20 founding members and was constructed in 1976. The years 1979 and 1985 saw the construction of the second and third courts. Platform tennis gained massive acclaim in the early 2000s among residents and visitors.
NTPA relocated to their current home on Macy’s Lane at a property owned by Land Bank. The new facility comprises a clubhouse equipped with a cozy social space, bathroom, and kitchen. Its location is ideal for visitors on the island looking for a comfy, home-away-from-home place to stay, mainly because it lies close to vacation rentals.
Before its introduction in Nantucket, platform tennis was a common sport across different parts of the country. It started back in 1928 as an outdoor racquet sport that people could play in the brutal winters of New York.
A platform tennis court is usually 40 feet long (about one-third the size of a traditional tennis court). It also features a chicken wire fence measuring 12 feet in height. With the taut fencing, the balls can remain inside the court during an active match.
Underneath the beautifully-raised wooden platforms lies blowing heaters and specially-constructed trap doors for snow removal. Even in cold weather, lighting fixtures can be added to the court to improve visibility.
A Brief History of Pickleball in Nantucket
Pickleball began in 1965 on Washington’s Bainbridge Island. It was an attempt by Congressman Joel Pritchard and his friends to build a badminton play area on a Saturday afternoon. The play area they tried to set up didn’t have all the essentials to make it ideal for badminton.
Congressman Pritchard and his friends experimented using a whiffle ball. They lowered the badminton net and made a few paddles from plywood. And that is how they ended up with pickleball.
The game spread across different parts of the country, Nantucket included. Today, there are several pickleball courts on the island. The only ones open to the public are under the Nantucket Racquet Sports Association and can be found at 82 Hinsdale Road.
A pickleball court has no walls and is four feet shorter than a platform tennis court. Players use plastic balls with strategically-drilled holes to play pickleball, unlike the spongy rubber ball used in platform tennis.
The manner of play of pickleball looks like tennis, but it is played on a court the size of a doubles badminton court (less than a third of the size of a regular tennis court) with a whiffle ball.
The fence is quite low, while the court is about 44 feet long and 20 feet wide. Also, the net height of the court is about 34 inches high at the center and 36 inches high at the sidelines.
Platform Tennis Vs. Pickleball: The Verdict
The equipment used in platform tennis consists of a short-handled paddle with a hard surface. Players also use a sponge rubber ball that can also rebound off the screen once it hits the deck and is hit before hitting the deck again.
Scoring on platform tennis is the same as tennis. The scores are in the sequence of 15, 30, 40, and game points. And the first team to reach the fourth point wins.
On the other hand, the equipment used in pickleball consists of a whiffle ball the size of a baseball. Pickleball is played on a badminton-sized court over a tennis-type net. For this game, you can only score points by legally serving a ball the opponent fails to return.
Generally, platform tennis is quite an easy sport for players regardless of their skill levels and ages. Since pickleball combines the elements of badminton, ping-pong, and tennis, it is fast-paced and competitive. However, you can advance from a beginner to an experienced player in both games with patience and practice.