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Fox Chapel, neighboring communities hosting platform tennis national championships

American Platform Tennis Association's executive director Ann Sheedy worked with the local chapter to host the 2014 national championships. The Fox Chapel Racquet Club will host preliminary matches on the five permanent courts. Final matches will be held on the temporary courts constructed by Squaw Run Road. Open to the public, the matches will be streamed on the website, too.

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By Sharon Drake
Wednesday, March 5, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

The national championships for platform tennis won't be stopped by rain, nor sleet, nor hail, nor snow.

While Pittsburgh's weather hasn't been first class, whatever is thrown down by the sky won't chill the participants' high level of play or spectators' hot interest this week.

Starting today, 80 women's teams and 112 men's teams will come from all over the country to the Lower Valley, North Hills and Sewickley for the American Platform Tennis Association National Championships. The event finals, hosted by the Fox Chapel Racquet Club at 355 Hunt Road, will be Sunday.

The women's final is scheduled to start at 11 a.m. and the men's at 1:30 p.m.

Spectators are welcome. There will be live Internet streaming.

“This is a chance to see players at the highest level. People who watch this level say you just won't understand how good they are unless you watch them,” said Ann Sheedy of Fox Chapel, executive director of the American Platform Tennis Association.

Organizing the annual championships is just one of her jobs.

The Western Pennsylvania Platform Tennis Association, or WPPTA, has courts all over the city. Fox Chapel sites include courts at the Pittsburgh Field Club, Fox Chapel Golf Club and Fox Chapel Racquet Club. There also are courts nearby at Oakmont, Longvue and Edgewood country clubs and at North Park and in Sewickley.

Most of the participating teams came in from out of town; however, there are local players.

Scott Kahler and Matt Riva are ranked 14th nationally. Kelly Fischer and Jessica Guyaux, of Edgewood and the Field Club respectively, are the highest ranked local women.

Many of the participants teach platform tennis or are tennis pros, Sheedy said, because there really aren't professional players.

A fast-growing sport, platform tennis — also called paddle tennis — is booming in southern states such as Florida and Georgia. Locally, the Western Pennsylvania Platform Tennis Association has eight divisions of women with 64 teams playing during the day.

Additional teams of men and women play in the evenings.

“Pittsburgh is one of the top areas,” Sheedy said.

Along with the national championships, platform tennis has junior championships and events for a bevy of adult age groups.

“You really can play for quite a while. Many keep playing because of the smaller court. You can make it as athletic as you want,” Sheedy said.

There are playoffs for over-75-year-olds in Dorset, Vt., too.

Sheedy started playing when she moved to Fox Chapel 25 years ago.

“I've loved platform tennis since I began. The people are just the best group of people forever. Nationwide, the sport seems to attract enthusiastic people,” she said.

Sharon Drake is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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